1Morgan wrote: I do just fine when a bird is gobbling and coming. But, when it's quiet I will yack and yack. I'm sure I turn more birds away but the silence is deafening. How do I stop?
I hear you. The part that is hard to grasp is that the majority of the time birds don't gobble all the way to the gun, that stuff is for the videos and it's great when it happens. But all of the standard cliche's..."Take the bird's temperature"..."Give the turkeys what they want"...are predicated on toms that are gobbling. But what about the toms that are not gobbling? In that regard, the more you call, the more you tip your hand on your location and the fact that you are not a real turkey to the birds you don't hear or see.
In human behavior, nobody likes a loud mouth or a bully. By calling too long and too loud that is exactly what you are portraying yourself to be to the turkeys. Add in the fact that if a tom is already with hens, they may take him the other way if you over call. I never kept a log book, but I've tagged about 4 dozen gobblers in multiple states over 20 seasons...this is not to brag, but to illustrate a point. I'm certain that 2/3 of those birds never gobbled; they either came in silent alone, came in silent with some buddies or were led in by hens.
Here is one of my preferred methods developed with a lot of trial and error for cold calling or gobbling birds in the far distance, perhaps even off your property. Select three calls that you want to use and lay them on the ground in a small semicircle. I like to start with a box call because it is generally the loudest. Go through a good sequence of at least 30 seconds with loud yelps and some cuts thrown in, maybe a cackle, don't be afraid to make some racket. Set down the call and time 10 minutes on your watch... do not be tempted to call. I like to use a wing bone next for the different tone, just a couple short series of standard yelping at medium volume. A mouth call would work well here. Again, wait 10 minutes by the watch. For the third call I like a peg and slate because you can get real soft with it. Let out some very subdued short 3-4 note yelping sequences with some soft purring thrown in, maybe a cluck or two. If a tom honors any of your calls with a gobble during this setup, stop calling. If you see a silent tom headed your way stop calling. He's already heard and pinpointed you, let his curiosity do the rest.
I've tagged at least a dozen gobblers with this exact method and the majority of them have come in silent, usually near the 25 to 30 minute mark. This method works well with or without decoys and feel free to mix in some non-vocalized turkey sounds such as scratching in the leaves or imitating wing beats. The theory behind all of this is that the birds heard your first call even if they didn't respond (they did.) Each subsequent call needs to be at less volume and intensity than the previous in case unseen birds are approaching (they are). Save your softest confidence calling for the end of the setup. If you continue to make loud racket with the same call, you run the risk of spooking approaching silent birds that think they should be able to see you by now. I also believe it's important to employ three different calls, don't continue using the same call over and over. This will add to the realism, give the illusion that there is more than one turkey and the difference in tone can sound like birds moving or facing different directions.
One final thought, try to call using the sequences I mentioned and for good reason. Too many hunters want to throw out every call they know in the same sequence just to hear themselves- yelping, cutting, clucking, cackles and even purring. Real birds yelp and cut loudly when they are aggressive and excited, and purr and cluck softly when they are content and relaxed. They don't go through the entire range of turkey emotion in one calling sequence. Makes sense... but is seldom talked about.
There you have it, my favorite and most successful setup calling tactic, hard earned over 20 turkey seasons. Be sure and post a picture of your gobbler. Jeff
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