Turkey Hunting: Bringing the Thunder

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I'll never forget a hunt I had a few years back in west central Alabama.  We were in the midst of our mid-season lull, and I was listening near my property line when I heard the unmistakable sound of my neighbor running a gobble tube in the distance.  The sound was so hideous that I couldn't help but laugh at his attempt to replicate the booming gobble of the wild turkey gobbler. My laughter soon ended as two birds sounded off in response to the gobble tube.

Less than thirty minutes later, the boom from my neighbors' shotgun dissipated any humor that arose at daybreak.  How could 'that sound' provoke not one, but two, gobblers to break their silence and reveal their location?  I suppose that is why the Lord made me a man, and I am not worthy of judging what sounds real to a turkey.

The gobble of the wild turkey is one that evokes emotions that escape the grasp of words.  It is the sound that forces us (given we do not have a choice as to our obsession) to arise at 4:30 AM and battle the elements to harvest the manufacturer of that magical sound.  It is the sound we never tire of hearing; the sound that can rattle even the calmest amongst us.

Turkeys are competitive creatures.  As with any society, a hierarchy exists among wild turkeys, and each flock is going to have a pecking order.  Once a certain longbeard establishes his dominance, he fights day in and out to maintain that status.  This primal instinct is the reason that emulating the sound of another gobbler can force a tight-lipped boss gobbler to reveal his location.

Scott Wilhelm of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin is the reigning Grand National and World Gobbling Division champion, and Wilhelm utilizes his skills in the woods to strike turkeys that are "the jealous kind."

"I use gobbles throughout the season, from when turkeys are bunched up on through to when most gobblers are running solo,” says the Zink Calls Pro-staffer.  “Gobbles prey on the dominance instinct of turkeys; it’s no different than if another guy was in your house with his arm around your girl.  You wouldn't like that too much, and I think that's the same thing with turkeys.  They establish home territories, and don't want intruders," said Wilhelm, who also won the Grand National Gobbling title in 2007.

As for the type of call Wilhelm uses to produce a gobble, he indicated that a heavy-reeded mouth diaphragm is his favorite.  "I am fortunate to be able to use a variety of different calls, but mouth calls seem to work best.  You need to have a call that can handle the amount of air that is needed to produce the volume of a gobble.  Zink Calls' three-reed batwing cut allows me to produce a loud and realistic gobble."

Wilhelm said that just like strutting decoys, hunters have to be willing to continue to try gobbling calls even if they do not work at first.  "I use the analogy of a bass fisherman who throws a white spinnerbait and doesn't catch a fish on the first cast.  He doesn't abandon that lure; he tries it again along with other baits in his tacklebox.  It is the same thing with turkey calls.  That gobbler may respond to a gobble the second or third time you try it; you have to be willing to use your entire arsenal, including gobbles.  Its a great tool to have at your disposal."

Wilhelm, who hunts primarily private land, offered a word of caution for replicating the gobble while hunting on public land.  "You probably want to refrain from using gobbles on public land.  Gobbles can attract other hunters and put you in harm’s way, so hold off on using them on public land, or any place that other hunters may be nearby."

So this spring, be sure to use caution when using a gobble call, but do not avoid using them.  Every turkey is different on any given day, and replicating a gobble may be what it takes to get him cranked up!

New options for producing the roar

New gobbling calls were the rage at the 36th annual NWTF Convention in early February, with the sound of gobbles resonating throughout the convention hall at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  Three products in particular- Down and Dirty’s Haint, Knight and Hale’s Hale Fire, and Flextone’s Thunder Gobble hit the market in time for the 2012 season, with each capable of producing ultra-realistic gobbles in the right hands.  The Haint and Hale Fire are both built with a goose call-like design, while the Thunder Gobble is a hybrid between a mouth diaphragm and a tube call.  If you are interested in trying a new tool this spring, then check out these products by clicking on the hyperlinks above.

For more information on Zink Calls, visit their website at www.zinkcalls.com!
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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