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What's More Important in Turkey Hunting: Calling or Woodsmanship?

askcallingI always hear folks say that woodsmanship and scouting are more important than calling. What's the truth? — Bobby Forest, Cascade, Wis.

All right, here’s my standard disclaimer: Scouting, woodsmanship and experience are more important than calling to spring turkey hunting success.

Now, here’s the inconvenient truth. When a pepper-hot gobbler flies down atop a ridge and starts walking the other way, it’s tough to lure him in by laying some woodsmanship on him.

Calling is the essence of spring turkey hunting. Being able to reproduce numerous turkey vocalizations on several instruments is part of being a well-rounded gobbler hunter. And frankly, running calls and getting responses from turkeys might be the most enjoyable aspect of spring hunting.

So yes, emphasize woodsmanship. Scout hard and intelligently. Learn about turkey behavior and tendencies. But don’t ignore calling, please. It’s the final piece of the puzzle. The ultimate objective of calling isn’t to impress your buddies at camp or shatter the morning stillness. It’s to locate a turkey, get him interested in the “hen” and lure him within range. That practical approach makes you a turkey killer instead of a turkey caller. It takes some folks years to truly learn about “woods calling” — that is, the type of calling that puts turkeys in the pot. Many never learn to call that well. Others fall in love with their own calling and can’t wait to show it off. And many hunters just seem to call without purpose, much like a child talking about nothing and to no one in particular.

— Brian Lovett

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