By Ernie Calandrelli with John E. Phillips
Ernie Callandrelli Says to Get Wet for Gobblers
Editor’s Note: Ernie Calandrelli is the director of public relations and advertising for Quaker Boy Game Calls in Orchard Park, New York and a longtime Mossy Oak enthusiast. I’ve hunted with Ernie over the years, and he’s one of the best turkey hunters I’ve ever met, so I wanted to know how he takes tough turkeys.
If you hunt turkeys in the spring, you can expect to either get wet or stay in camp. I’m not a stay-in-camp person, so I’ll put-on my Mossy Oak rainsuit, turkey vest and rubber boots and go to the turkeys. I don’t do much differently on rainy days than on clear days. One of the biggest secrets for taking turkeys is learning all you can about the wild turkey. Turkeys have to eat, sleep, dodge predators and mate. When rain is pouring down, the turkey’s ability to see and hear predators in the woods is extremely limited. Therefore, when a turkey flies-off the roost on a rainy day, he’s usually headed for a field, a clear-cut or another open area where he can see 360-degrees around himself. If the turkey stays in the woods, the leaves and the branches are moving in the rain, and he can’t detect predators as well as he can in the fields. When the rain stops, the sun pops out, and the turkey can dry his feathers better in an open area like a field than he can in the woods and thicker cover. On rainy days, I head straight for the fields, the clear-cuts and the open places, because that’s where turkeys want to be.
I don’t call as much on rainy days, because turkeys don’t gobble as well when rain’s falling. I’ve had turkeys gobbling from the ground, and then they’ll shut-up as soon rain starts. Remember, when a turkey gobbles, he’s not only calling-in hens. He’s also notifying predators where he is located. The turkey’s eyes are his number-one defense, and when the rain starts, he can’t see as well because of all the movement in the woods. He knows he’s more vulnerable, and he’ll stop calling. So, I only call sporadically during the rain, and expect turkeys to come to me without gobbling. I like to use a tube call, because it’s loud and isn’t affected by the rain. I also like waterproof box calls and high-pitched waterproof calls to penetrate through the wind and rain and reach out and touch that gobbler. Remember, if the turkey can’t hear the call, he can’t come to it.
Most of the time, turkeys will stay in the middles of fields. So, when I set-up to call them, I usually set-up right off the field, just behind the first line of trees. I always want to be next to a tree that’s wider than my shoulders, so the turkey can’t silhouette me. If I have a blind, I can set-up right on the edge of the field. A quality total-concealment blind is a great turkey-hunting aid on a rainy day. Not only are you totally hidden from the turkey, you can stay dry and warm in that blind. Too, you can lay your calls out and be ready to use different types of calls, as you need them.
Turkeys won’t be excited about coming to your call on a rainy day. They know the closer they are to the field’s edge, the closer they are to danger. I usually wear Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage, because it blends in anywhere I hunt, whether I’m hunting Eastern gobblers in my home state of New York, Rio Grandes in the wide-open spaces of Texas, Merriams in the mountains of Montana or Osceolas in the swamps of Florida.