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Henned-Up Gobblers and Biting Bugs

provided by John E. Phillips

One of the most highly regarded turkey callers and hunters in the nation is Mossy Oak ProStaffer Paul Butski of southern New York and the small town of Scio - about 6 miles from the Pennsylvania border. This turkey hunter has won more than 250 turkey calling contests, three National Wild Turkey Federation Championships, two Levi Garrett All-American open turkey calling contests, six U.S. Open Turkey Calling contests and three Grand National contests and today works with GSM Outdoors.

gobbler with hen

Mossy Oak: One of the most difficult gobblers to bag is one with hens. How do you solve this turkey-hunting problem?

Paul Butski: I’m probably more aggressive with my calling than many hunters. I start calling loudly with cutting sounds and yelping, while reminding myself that I have to get in the mind of a turkey. Turkey calling is merely a mind game. So, when I use excited clucking and yelping, I’m trying to make that turkey think, “That hen over there seems to be much more excited about breeding than the hens I’m with; so, maybe I can go over to where she is, breed her and then return to this flock of hens.”

Another thing that’s important to know about a gobbler with hens is that the boss hen is just as territorial as the boss gobbler. She’s the Queen Bee of this harem that the gobbler’s traveling with, and each morning she decides where she’ll take the flock and the gobbler. When she hears an unknown hen calling aggressively to her gobbler, the first thing she thinks of is, “If that gal doesn’t quit talking to our boyfriend, I’m going to go over there and whip her.” If I’m giving loud cutting and excited yelping, even if the gobbler doesn’t come to me, the boss hen will, and then the hen harem and gobbler will follow behind her. Of course, the boss hen may take all the hens and the gobbler away because she doesn’t want herself and the rest of the harem girls to possibly lose their gobbler to this unknown, aggressive hen.

Mossy Oak: If 8-10 hens and a gobbler are coming straight toward you because they know where you are from the sounds of your calling, how do you keep from spooking the hens and the gobbler? 

Butski: That’s where you have to depend on your Mossy Oak camouflage and have nerves of steel. For example, if you have a mosquito inside your head net that’s buzzing like a chainsaw in your ear, every emotion in your body says, “Slap that mosquito.” But if you do, you’ll spook that gobbler. Instead let that mosquito eat your ear. If the turkey’s at 40 yards or closer, he will pick up the slightest movement you make to try to get rid of that mosquito. By spraying your hat, headnet, gloves, shirt, boots and socks a day or two before you go hunting with mosquito repellant or Permethrin, you often can keep this problem from happening, but not always.

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