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To Call or Not to Call

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 13, 2010

is interested. Now, your next step: sit quietly and wait. Easy? Far from it. You want the tom to walk up within easy shotgun range—now. Seldom does it work this way.

Toms typically take their time coming into a call. It may not be all that long: maybe 30 minutes to an hour, but that seems a long time when you’re sitting there with a shotgun on your knee, expecting a gobbler to appear at any moment. When the tom doesn’t appear right away, the tendency is to call again. It’s as though a little gremlin materializes on your shoulder and whispers urgently in your ear: Call! That tom may be walking away. Come on, call! You need to determine where that gobbler is!

Ignore that gremlin. Often, more calling simply encourages the gobbler to stay put. He’ll wait for the hen he is hearing to come to him. You want the gobbler to come looking for the hen. To encourage this response, don’t call again. A 2-year-old tom will often gobble plenty while you make no calls. When he goes silent, it’s time to be alert. Often the gobbler is approaching.

Make Your Calls …

When a gobbler is gobbling from the roost at first light. Call once—and lightly. Within 60 to 150 yards from a roosted tom, you make one call to let the tom know you are there. Then go silent. If he doesn’t answer your call, no problem. Often, toms don’t. Your job now is to wait and not make a sound.

When a gobbler flies out of the roost. If you like making lots of calls, now is the time. Listen for the tom to fly down from the roost. As soon as you think his feet are on the ground, call to him with some short, snappy yelps. If he gobbles at that, give him some more. If he doesn’t, switch to another call. Maybe a box call or a slate will do the trick. The point is to get the tom excited and make him gobble—lots. Get him to the point where he gobbles several times without a break. Hunters call it double and triple gobbling. Then go silent. Again, your strategy here is to entice him to come looking for the hen he heard.

If a tom fails to answer your calls, there could be several explanations. Your calling might need improvement. Something could have spooked the gobbler.

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