Brain Versus Bird

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Published on: Apr. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

hen as she flies down, and then, if the ground is dry, I ruffle up the leaves like the bird's wings hitting the ground. Then I yelp and cluck like a hen that has just landed and is fired up and ready to go."

Does it work? "If that bird is receptive and it sounds like everything is going right, he will just gobble and pitch right down to you." Griffen adds, with a twinkle in his eye, "as if it was that easy."

More to the point, he suggests if the bird flies down and struts, he is not going to buy your early-morning ruse; he now expects you to come to him. What to do? Pour on the calling-yelp and cackle like crazy. If he responds with gobbling, call back even more frequently. Suddenly excited and aggressive, he may just throw that innate turkey paranoia to the wind and move into range of your gun.

If the bird is answering your calls but doesn't show, Griffen suggests that you find out which call he likes best. "You may yelp real loud and he won't answer you, but you cluck and he will answer. Keep clucking at him and that eventually will get him to come in. For some reason that just stimulates them a little more.

"Some birds get even more excited when they hear you cackling. It may take 45 minutes to an hour to get that bird to come in to you. He may stand off, or he may have a strutting area he wants to stick with and he expects you to come. Remember, the hens are supposed to come to the gobbler, not the gobbler to the hen."

If you can tell by the departing tones of his gobbles that the bird is leaving you behind, you have two choices. You can stick to the roosting area with the hope the gobbler will come back later in the morning when he has completed his patriarchal duties (he remembers hearing your calls there), or you can hustle off and try to circle around in front of him and cut him off. Griffen says that can work, but just as often you end up spooking the bird.

"If you stay in the roosting area the first two hours of the morning, call as often as every 5 or 10 minutes," Griffen says. "Later in the morning, cut it back to every 20

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