Editor’s Note: Eddie Salter of Evergreen, Alabama, has hunted turkeys for almost 50 years, hosts “The Turkey Man” on the Pursuit Channel, and is a Pro Staffer for the Down-n-Dirty Outdoors call company. Eddie has won two World Turkey Calling Championships and too-many state, regional and local turkey-calling championships to remember. If you’ve ever been to one of the thousands of turkey-hunting and turkey-calling seminars where Salter has performed, you know he can call turkeys just as well with his natural voice as with any type of turkey-calling device. This week, we’ve asked Salter to tell Mossy Oak readers about some of the toughest turkeys he ever has tried to take.
I was hunting Merriam’s gobblers in the Black Hills of South Dakota and having a tough time. I would call to them, and they would gobble back. They would start coming to me. However, once they got within 150 to 100 yards of me, I would quit calling to let the birds come in to me on their own, just as I would in Alabama. But when I quit calling to these turkeys, they’d shut up. When they got to where I could see them, they would be walking away from me as if they’d lost interest in me. Finally, I decided to try and call those turkeys all the way in to my gun. I’d call the feathers off those turkeys if I had to do so. Once I started calling and never stopped, I couldn’t believe it. Those gobblers would come in and almost gobble down my gun barrel. The moral of this story is, you have to pay attention to what the turkeys are telling you wherever you hunt. These Merriam’s gobblers wanted to hear those sweet hen calls.
On another trip, I was hunting in the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico. There were plenty of turkeys gobbling everywhere, but I couldn’t call them with any of the turkey calls I used. In the national forest were plenty of good road systems, so you could drive the roads, use some locator calls and have the turkeys gobble. Then when we went to the turkeys and set-up to call them, they’d shut-up and vanish. Finally, after 5 days of hunting these crazy birds, I decided to get up early and go to the places where I’d heard turkeys gobble. Instead of owl-hooting or crow-calling to locate the gobblers, I moved through the darkness and got on the back side of the hills where the turkeys had been gobbling. When daylight came, I started calling softly. I took a gobbler before 8:00 am. When I told my hunting buddies what I’d learned, they all tagged-out in about 2 days.
Public-land gobblers learn what a locator call is during the first weekend of turkey season. To take these turkeys, get on the backside of the roost tree, call softly, and watch what happens. Be sure you’re wearing your Mossy Oak camouflage, and you stay well hidden, because these public-land gobblers know what a hunter looks like. Then let the turkeys teach you how to hunt.