Gobbler Game Plans
My parents must have known I would be a turkey hunter. Besides naming me Jake (also the name of a juvenile male turkey), they encouraged my appreciation for all types of wildlife, including turkeys, from an early age. Growing up, it was always a treat to see what dad brought home from his hunting or fishing trips. Spring was the best, as there was always a story to go along with bagged gobblers. Those early exposures to turkey hunting taught me that different strategies were needed to consistently connect with longbeards.
Reflecting on countless turkey hunts and referencing my logbook entries of encounters, I created this guide to some of the most common gobbler maneuvers. Spoil Tom’s plans this spring by employing a variety of tactics and strategies to help you bag your bird.
Situation: It is 5:45 a.m. on opening morning of turkey season. You roosted a gobbler last night and you are now within 100 yards. He is gobbling from the roost. How do you call this turkey into gun range?
Technique: Start out with soft tree yelps to let the gobbler know you are there. If he answers you a few times, wait for him to fly down and then let him know that you are on the ground and ready for business by cutting and yelping. Keep your firearm pointed in the direction of his gobbles. Listen for spitting and drumming as he approaches.
Insight: Missouri’s regular spring turkey season opens on the third Monday in April. This conservative approach allows for the majority of hens to be bred before the season begins. In the case of the Textbook Tom, hunters can encounter gobblers with very few hens or no hens at all, making them very vulnerable to calling techniques.
Gobbling Away Gobbler
Situation: It is 6:30 a.m. on the third morning of spring turkey season, and you hear a turkey gobbling in front of you. He gobbles every time you call, but he is farther away each time he gobbles. What strategies can be used to harvest this uncooperative bird?
Technique: Try aggressive calling by mixing in yelps and cutting. If your calling techniques fall short, try to determine what direction the gobbler is moving in and circle around in front of him. Use a locator call (crow, owl, or hawk work well) to“check” him and then use soft calls to lure him into