Hen between you and that gobbler? Call her in.

Everything seems perfect, bird is sounding off on the limb, weather conditions are right, your position is sound. Then you hear her. A hen is between you and the bird and she is yelping and cutting. The tom is going crazy gobbling at every turn. It’s impossible to beat Mother Nature so now what? Make her mad and bring her to you.

Women don’t like competition for their men in any species so take advantage of that fact. Mimic her calls to the gobbler but raise the volume level above hers, get aggressive with it. She yelps, go over the top of her. She cuts, fire back. Often this will be enough to make her come your way and give the “intruder” a piece off her mind. And in doing so, she is leading the gobbler to your set up. This is not always going to pay off but it is always worth the effort. Otherwise, she is going to lead him away for sure. Remember, the key is to be louder than she is. An angry hen just might lead you to a trophy gobbler.             

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What’s so hard about turkey hunting? It’s not if you have one thing.

Late evening was rushing in and daylight growing short as the gobbler eased towards the woods. He didn’t know he was being watched through binoculars several hundred yards away. As the last light fell below the western horizon, the man heard him gobble while flying up. There the bird would spend the night on his chosen limb. The man would return in the dark and set up with hopes to lure the tom into range. Plans set, he slipped from the field and returned to his truck parked about a half mile away.

As morning was still an hour off, the hunter eased into position across the field from the roosted gobbler and carefully set two hen decoys and a jake. He hoped the older bird would react aggressively to the sight of a young bird with hens in his territory. With dawn approaching, the local owls began hooting in earnest and they goaded the turkey into gobbling. He would sound off over the top of the owls showing his dominance. The hunter resisted calling to the bird, choosing to wait until the turkey flew down.

The clear spring sun had crested the trees and it had been twenty minutes since the last gobble on the limb had pierced the air. Now it was time to call. The hunter scratched out a raspy yelp on his favorite friction call. Nothing returned the sound. He waited another ten minutes and tried again, still no response. Switching strikers, another series was sent out. Paydirt! The gobble thundered from the edge of the woods near a group of tall oaks. Soon the red head of an excited tom bobbed into view. Spotting the decoys, the bird closed the distance quickly to take the hens away from an upstart jake. The shot was taken at twenty yards and opening day was in the books.

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? The plan worked to perfection but a huge factor was in play the entire time. The difference maker between success and failure on this morning was patience. Instead of calling at the roosted bird, the hunter waited. Instead of moving when the initial calls seemingly fell on deaf ears, the hunter waited. Patience is the most important tool in a turkey hunter’s arsenal. It’s not easy to stay put but when you think you should move give it at least another thirty minutes. Stay calm, stay put, and collect more fans and spurs this season.    

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Want to Take the Turkey Slam? What You Need to Know

There are five subspecies of turkeys in the United States. One of them, the Gould’s, is primarily a Mexican resident but some have recently been reintroduced in southern Arizona. However, the “Grand Slam” is considered to be the Eastern, Osceola, Merriam’s, and the Rio Grande. Harvest them all and you achieve a turkey hunting milestone. But it is not easy. Here are some facts about each bird that will help you achieve your goal.

Eastern-Considered by most turkey hunters to be the wariest of them all. They are by nature more cautious and do not respond favorably to hunting pressure. They do have a wide range however so your options are many for where you go to hunt them. Iowa birds tend to be giants; a 25lb Eastern there wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. South Carolina has them in droves but they are smaller birds. So taking your Eastern may be more of a study in patience but you will get it done.

Osceola-This is often the last turkey hunters need to finish the Slam. The reason why is their limited range. They are only found in southern Florida in a population that fluctuates between 80,000 and 100,000 birds. A limited range plus a limited population equals limited opportunities. And you add in the swampy terrain they live in and that equals a hard bird to hunt. They are very similar to Easterns in many ways but are generally smaller in size and darker in color. These birds are wary so techniques used on Easterns apply here as well. Plus, watch out for snakes!

Merriam’s-This is a striking turkey that lives in striking country. Their traditional haunts are in the Rocky Mountains, the states of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. But they have been transplanted into other states, California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Merriam’s were named after the first chief biologist of the U.S. Biological Survey, C. Hart Merriam. Terrain is an issue with harvest for these turkeys as well but many times it can be used to the hunter’s advantage. Spot and stalk methods work well as you can see the birds from a long distance, allowing maneuvering into position for a shot. Both the gobblers and hens are very vocal so an aggressive calling style works well.

Rio Grande-Every turkey can be difficult to deal with but the Rio Grande is easier than the others. They live in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas primarily and they have a large population, over one million birds. Open terrain with low trees tends to typify the lands they live in and they are very vocal in nature, much like the Merriam’s. They are less pressured as a whole and can be more susceptible to calling. Often, they can be seen running in big groups with several toms competing for that hot hen.

There is the lowdown on the turkeys you need to achieve the Slam. Then, on to the World Slam adding Gould’s and Ocellated. But that is another post, stay tuned!  

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Why Every Turkey Hunter Needs a Call Variety

There are choices in turkey call styles. Some prefer the diaphragm, others will tell you the box call is the only way to go. But the truth is you need to learn how to use all of the available turkey calls. The reason is simple, on any given day a gobbler may respond better to one sound over another. There is no scientific reason for it, changing sounds will trigger a response just because a turkey likes it. And this is true within the same style of call. For example, slate calls from the same manufacturer will have a different pitch, so will boxes, glass, and mouth calls. Carrying several calls and accessories for them can mean the difference between frustration and success this season.

Banded and Avery Customer Service Specialist Stephen Pitt has taken over 75 turkeys around the country and the world. He has a World Slam under his belt (Eastern, Merriam, Osceola, Rio Grande, Gould’s, and Ocellated) and logs many an hour in the woods every spring. “I typically carry two types of calls, diaphragm and slate/glass. I will have at least half a dozen diaphragm mouth calls in my vest along with three slates and four strikers for them. With that lineup, I can sound like countless hens, just changing the striker will alter the pitch significantly with a slate or glass call and instantly you become a new hen.”

Pitt has seen a gobbler that as totally silent suddenly sound off at the change of calls. “I’ve been hunting with friends before with them calling and getting no response. Then I will try a new call and that silent tom is suddenly interested and gobbling. So, I always try multiple calls if my initial efforts seem to be falling on deaf ears.” He also has calls that are softer and louder in his arsenal because of varying weather conditions. Calm days need less volume than those with high winds.

Bottom line, master the use of multiple calls. Don’t get up and leave an area until you have tried several, you never know what may work.                

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5 Top Reasons to Hunt Turkeys

Ah the spring of the year, when love is in the air. Love for turkey hunting! Serious turkey hunters are fanatical about their sport. Here are some reasons why.

1) Spring is here -Waterfowl hunting is over except for the snow goose junkies (another fanatic) and there has been a lull in the action. Turkey hunting is a way to get in that last hunting fix before the long summer sets in. Plus, you don’t freeze to death!

2) Turkeys don’t live in ugly places- From the Florida swamps to the Colorado Rockies, there are turkeys to hunt. Imagine in the same season hunting the oak forests of the south, the high plains, mountain valleys, and arid cactus filled landscapes.

3) Calling-Fooling a wary tom turkey is thrilling to say the least. The interaction between hunter and prey is similar to waterfowling, just on a subtler level. You still have to master different calls, different types of calls, and know when to use them.

4) Turkey hunting is a challenge-Hunters love challenges and turkeys offer this on many levels. You must master your ability to move quickly and quietly. You must master your scouting techniques. You must master patience as a necessity, not just a virtue. Bowhunters love to hunt turkeys as well, just another rung in the challenge ladder to conquer.

5) Wild turkey is a delicacy- Smoked, fried, baked, boiled, and many others that are all delicious. Plus, the satisfaction of knowing you conquered the bird and didn’t pick it up in the frozen food section of the grocery store is satisfying.

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The One Tactic You Need To Use This Turkey Season

You’ve done your homework, roosted that big gobbler, and put yourself in the perfect spot before dawn. Done deal right? Well, maybe if he is in the right mood and follows the plan. But any experienced turkey hunter knows mature toms are very unpredictable. So you are in position, he gobbles on the tree. He answers your call and flies down at dawn. He gobbles again, once, twice, ten times. But he isn’t coming any closer. He expects that hen to come to him and not the other way around. Now you hear him gobble again in another location moving away from you. What went wrong? Nothing really, he is just being a turkey. Now try this. Head quickly straight to the spot where he flew down and began gobbling. Get into position there and give a quick yelp. Get ready because many times he will turn right around and head back to the hen he thought wasn’t coming to him. Boom!!!      

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Snow Geese: Who Brings Them In 20 Yards Closer?

The hunter paying attention to every detail, that’s who. It’s a fine line between geese at 50 yard range and closing the distance to 30. Let’s examine what the consistent harvesters of these difficult to hunt waterfowl do that others don’t.

1) They do their homework-Snows are wary to be sure but they are also creatures of habit. The smart snow goose hunter pays close attention to routines. They also focus their scouting on first light, not in the afternoon. There is no way to know how they will react when coming off the roost and how they move in the early morning unless you are there to witness it. Far too many people focus on the afternoon feeds without having any idea of what the geese did as they greeted the day.

2) They study their prey-Watch how a flock moves, feeds, how other geese approach them. Do it under different winds as well. Replicate their spacing and flock formations.

3) They know how weather conditions affect the geese-North winds versus south, high winds versus light, sun versus clouds, taking into account how this will change the bird’s behavior. You have to take the good with the bad; some weather situations are just not conducive to close range action.

4) They adapt-The consistent killers have the tricks down pat. They don’t allow themselves to get locked into one method. They change decoys, they add or subtract motion, they raise or lower caller volume, they go old school in white suits, and they hide anyway they can. The use the topography of the land to their advantage and they are not afraid to abandon plan A and try plan B and even C.

5) They persevere-Snows will frustrate the most seasoned hunter. Sometimes nothing seems to work at all. But the best have optimism on their side and they know that a slow day can turn hot quickly. They don’t give up and they don’t get discouraged. That is the mark of a true snow hunter.  

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Greenhead Gear Decoy Systems, the leader in decoy realism, built its reputation on the effective combination of durability and finishing power. We are proud to introduce our new line of turkey decoys following that tradition. Created from flawless championship level carvings, these decoys will have the wariest gobbler caught off guard and in close. Dominant gobblers can’t stand the sight of a young bird making the moves on a hen in their territory. Place the jake decoy near the breeding laydown hen and get ready for action. GHG Decoy Systems, First in Finishing.

Bonnie and Clyde Combo Pack

Drive gobblers crazy thinking a jake is moving in on a breeding hen. Includes an upright jake and laydown hen decoys. MSRP $129.99

Features include:

  • Flexible EVA construction

  • Breeding posture

  • Motion stake for use with jake decoy

  • Carry bags included

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GHG Decoy Systems Jake Decoy

GHG Decoy Systems, the leader in decoy realism, built its reputation on the effective combination of durability and finishing power. We are proud to introduce our new line of turkey decoys following that tradition. Created from flawless championship level carvings, these decoys will have the wariest gobbler caught off guard and in close. Our patented motion system allows movement in the slightest breeze.

Upright Jake

Jake is the name for a first-year gobbler. These young toms have male instincts without the size and strength of older birds. They pose a threat to breed hens that triggers the dominant territorial instinct of big gobblers. MSRP $79.99

Features include:

  • Flexible EVA construction

  • Upright posture

  • Triggers aggressive response from gobblers

  • Motion stake and carry bag included

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The Biggest Myth in Snow Goose Hunting

I have heard this countless times as soon as I tell someone I am a snow goose hunter. You don’t eat those things do you??? I have no idea how the notion that snow and blue geese are unfit for consumption started. They feed in the same fields as specks yet those geese are revered as table fare. You do need to prepare them correctly; here is how you do it.

1) Let it bleed-Waterfowl meat in general is very dark and blood heavy. The way to draw the blood out is simple. Soak it in water in a refrigerated environment for a minimum of 48 hours, more time is even better. Make sure you drain the water off the meat and refill the bowl every 24 hours for best results. I know a lot of people use milk but water is just as effective and comes out of your faucet.

2) Cut it thin and tenderize it-You can cook snows any way you can cook a duck. But the breasts are thicker and tougher than a mallard for example. Cut the breast in half lengthwise and use either a mallet or a heavy knife blade to tenderize the meat.

3) Try this-Creative cooking is fun and delicious. Instead of the same old way you cook birds, try this original recipe. You will need slow cooker such as a crock pot, a small round pan, and a rectangular glass baking dish pan to pull this off.

Barbeque Snow Goose Enchiladas


4-6 goose breasts, meat filleted off the bone (you will have 8 to 12 halves)

1 10 oz jar green enchilada sauce

1 24 oz bag shredded Mexican style cheese

20 corn tortillas

6 oz canola oil

1 18 oz bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce

1 8 oz can of beef broth

3 bay leaves

Instructions for cooking

This recipe requires a slow cooker, a small omelet pan, a pair of tongs, and a 13.5” x 8.5” x 2” baking dish. You will need some time for this recipe as the goose will need to cook in a crock pot for 8 hours with the bay leaves and beef broth first. Once that is done, remove the meat from the pot and pull it apart and drain the juice from the pot. Place the meat back in the pot and stir in the barbeque sauce. The next step is to pour the oil into the omelet pan. I prefer this pan due to the size and shape of corn tortillas. Heat the oil on medium heat for a few minutes until oil is hot. Use tongs to place tortilla in oil, cook for a few seconds on each side and place on paper towel covered plate to drain. Repeat procedure until you have all 20 tortillas cooked this way. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Take a tortilla and place it in the dish near the edge. Take a small amount of the duck and put it on top of the tortilla. Then add a small amount of cheese on top of the meat. Roll everything up tightly forming an enchilada. Repeat this process until you have two rows of enchiladas in the dish. My personal dish has room for ten in a row. Take the remaining sauce and pour it over the enchiladas. Then scatter the remaining meat over that. Top it all off with a heavy layer of cheese. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place dish in oven for 20 minutes until cheese is thoroughly melted. Plate and add Spanish rice and refried beans or eat them by themselves for a delicious and different treat. Serves four to six people.

Don’t tell new people trying them what meat is in the dish. The look on their face is priceless!   

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