On one hunt this season, I found some turkeys roosted right on the edge of a ridge. I tried multiple locations in calling these turkeys, but I never could seem to get the turkeys to come to me. These birds seemed to have their own agenda as to where they wanted to go. That agenda didn’t include picking up a new hen on the way to the place they had their minds made up to be.
I was hunting with my dad Billy Perryman, and we probably got too close to the roost tree when we set up and were only about 75 yards from the turkeys gobbling in the tree. Finally, the birds flew down, hit the ground and gobbled for 30- 45 minutes. But they wouldn’t come to any of my calls. Perhaps they were older turkeys that were gobbling to get the hens to come to them instead of them going to the hens. There was also a hen and a jake with the big gobbler, and they flew away from us.
When I called, the tom would come a little bit closer to us. Then he’d turn around and return to where he’d first gobbled from when he hit the ground. I'm not sure, because I didn’t see him, but I think the gobbler was staying in the same place but was spinning and gobbling - casting his gobbles out in all directions of the compass. We eventually got glimpses of the gobbler. But instead of coming to us, he gobbled right toward us, turned around and then gobbled away from us. This action made us think he was coming in and then going back to his gobbling spot. But he was just throwing his gobbles around.
The bird was at 60 to 70 yards - too far for us to shoot. Then my dad took out a trumpet call that he recently bought and had been practicing with, and the gobbler answered that trumpet call. The trumpet call is a suck-in type call that’s similar to a wingbone call. It’s made of wood and some are made out of acrylic. Dad got this call from Carlton Cannington from Morris, Georgia. My dad and I have had trumpet calls for several years, but we hadn’t felt like we learned enough about how to use them to try and call a tom with them. Before turkey season arrived, dad decided that he wanted to take a turkey with his trumpet call. I didn’t think dad was very good with the trumpet call, but he had learned to use it much better.
We used every call in our turkey hunting vests to get this gobbler to come to us, and nothing was working. I thought surely to goodness one of those calls would bring that old hung-up gobbler to within gun range, but I was wrong. Then dad pulled the trumpet call out of his vest and sucked on the mouthpiece to make the sound of a hen turkey. After hearing the trumpet call, the longbeard gobbled. Then he became hushed-mouthed. We couldn’t even hear him drum. It was just like he had vanished.
But 2-3 minutes later, we heard the turkey gobble on the other side of the ridge from where we were sitting, and he was only about 40 yards away. Because he was on the other side of the ridge, I couldn’t see him. I moved around the tree to face the direction from which he was gobbling. Thirty seconds later, that turkey’s head popped up from over the ridge, only 24-30 yards away from me. I could see from the bottom of the turkey’s beard to the top of the turkey’s head. So, I took the shot.
To be honest, my dad and I were pretty surprised that the trumpet call had caused the bird to come to us when no other call seemed to work. I guess the trumpet call made a different type of hen sound than any other call we had used. Throughout the season, we called in several more turkeys with those trumpet calls.
The only reason I think that call worked is that very few turkey hunters know there is such a thing as a trumpet call, and probably fewer hunters have ever tried it or used it with any degree of success. The trumpet call seems to give out a lower-sounding hen yelp. We weren’t able to get any excited-type calls on the trumpet. But I can say that this call works to bring in gobblers, even when all your other calls seem to fail. Plain yelps and clucks seem to be the sounds that will make the turkeys come in when we use the trumpet call. Once we finally picked up the ole gobbler, we saw that he had 1-3/8-inch spurs and an 11-inch beard, and he probably weighed 20 pounds or more. This was a really big turkey for an Alabama bird.
Tomorrow: Turkey Decoys and Texas Turkeys