We’ve all been there before—a large tom a distance off, not quite willing to commit. You call again and again trying to keep his attention. Minutes pass by and he just isn’t closing the distance. You call harder—nothing happens. Eventually the tom loses interest and struts away. Thoughts run through your mind like, “Man, that was so close. What did I do wrong? What could I have done different? Why didn’t he commit after initially showing interest?” It’s easy to feel dejected, depressed, and lonely; like you are the only person in the hunting world lacking the skills to call in that tom. Social media amplifies those feelings as your feed is flooded with images of your buddies harvesting trophy toms. Every situation is different, and to some, there may not be a clear solution. But here are three tips to help hunters of all levels succeed in getting that tom that hangs up into shooting range.
1. Call the Hens
Often toms will hang up because they already have a hen or multiple hens around them. Why would he want to leave his six to go after one? You could try to give him the impression that you’re a large tom ready for a fight, but sometimes he just isn’t feeling it. After failed attempts to lure the tom away from the flock, try focusing the attention on the hens. Begin with some soft clucks directed towards the hens. Be sure to respond to the hens and ignore the Tom. These sounds might pique the interest of the hens and make them wonder who the new hen on the block is. As they start to respond, try mixing in a cluck and purr combination, or start cutting. This can raise the emotion level of the hens and get them to close the distance with the Tom following right behind…
2. Read and Understand the Emotions of the Bird
This is arguably the most important aspect of calling in turkeys in any situation. It’s important to understand the emotion level of every turkey and is helpful to imagine it on a scale of 1-10. If the tom responded to your locator call with little emotion, it would be unwise to respond with a fighting purr. A plain yelp or soft cluck might be more beneficial when that bird is in the 1-3 levels of emotions. As the bird escalates into the 4-6 emotions you could implement 30-45 seconds of a cluck and purr combination followed with some cutting. As the emotion level raises to 7 and above, that’s when sounds like the excited yelp, and fighting purr are effective. Some times the birds need some coaxing and if your calls are eliciting low emotions, try subtly raising the emotions of the calls you are using. More experience and encounters with toms will help you increase your understanding of the turkey language and the associated emotions embedded in each turkey sound.
3. Make Sure Your Presentation is Realistic
Some hunters like to use decoys, and some hunters do not. Either way, this principle applies to both. If your decoy setup is a jake and a hen, then it makes little sense to be using mature tom sounds to attract prospective toms. It may initially pique his interest, but he is unlikely to commit to your setup if certain elements are missing. The same can be said for the hunter without decoys. When the Tom approaches the spot where the sounds are coming from, he expects to see a bird or multiple birds. Try casting your sounds behind you and to your sides to keep the tom coming in your direction, but guessing where the sound is coming from.
In sum, turkey hunting can be difficult–that’s what keeps us coming back time and time again. The goal is to step out of the truck, get into the setup and have a trophy tom come strutting in, but the reality is that this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you’re left with an unpunched tag in your pocket and a fueled desire to get better. We developed the Turkey Tech App to help hunters of all levels shorten the learning curve, and perfect their craft. In the app, Scott Ellis, a four-time grand national turkey calling champion presents some great information on the different sounds turkeys make and how to implement them into your hunting strategies. The better you understand the turkey language, the better chances you have of punching your tag with a quality tom. As a hunter, it is easy to get caught up in the obsession of new hunting gear. We make substantial investments into our weapons, clothing, decoys, setups, blinds, calls, and other equipment that helps us be more successful, but rarely do we take the time or money to invest in perhaps the most important contributor to success—ourselves. Improving your knowledge and understanding of the species you are targeting and learning successful strategies will do more to help you perfect your craft than any other piece of equipment or gear. Priced at only $4.99, the Turkey Tech App can provide hunters with a huge return on investment. You can find it on the App Store and Google Play Store. Best of luck to all of you hunters who are gearing up for the spring turkey season around the corner.
This article was written by Got Game Technologies staffer, Jedd Tibbitts, an avid outdoorsman and marketing intern for Got Game Technologies. If you have comments or questions for Jedd about this post, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.