From my perspective, there is a maturation of many serious turkey hunters. It’s a predictable and sort of chronological order of events, or better said experiences, that a hunter in the spring turkey woods faces that can change and strengthen their passion for the sport.
As a new hunter, it’s safe to assume most begin by being invited to join a hunt where their primary role is to sit still and make a good shot in the moment of truth, while a guide or mentor traverses the strategies necessary to get a love-struck Tom into range for a shot and coaches the hunter through the steps. The entirety of the hunt is produced by the guide, the hunter becomes mostly just a shooter. The excitement of these experiences and thrill of the harvest carry on, however, as these experiences began to tally, the interested hunter that continues to pursue turkey hunting most certainly begins to make note and to learn all the small things that are happening around them and how in most scenarios, turkey hunting matches skill and woodsmanship against pure luck unlike most any other hunt!
Spoiled Turkey Hunter
It’s been said, ok I’ll admit it…I say it all the time, a lonely two year old Tom makes a bad and spoiled turkey hunter. It’s kind of hypocritical, because as a die hard turkey hunter we all hope that sunrise brings one of these mythological creatures. They are the easiest and most exciting bird you’ll hunt. They are alone, they are not too experienced, they are in love, and they are ready to play the game! When these opportunities arise, a hunter can hardly do any wrong. Just sit still in a decent spot near the gobbling Tom, make a few sounds that resemble that of a hen turkey and wait. Rest is up to your aim!
However, turkey hunting isn’t all about these hunts and often the failed attempts and frustration of convincing a bird into range is an ultimate test of will and patience, skill and resolve. Most experienced turkey hunters can quickly point to the two most critical factors in any hunt, sight and sound. Regardless of what mother nature, or Murphy’s Law, throws your way on any given hunt the turkey will ultimately rely on what he sees and hears primarily in his decision making. His tendencies can be altered dramatically based on calling and on what he sees, he is a very skittish creature. Your camouflage and how you use it when setting up in the woods are vitally important, and if you managed that, then spring turkey hunting becomes all about calling, seducing a Tom or fooling the flock into the belief you are a hen ready to breed. Sure, you can sit still and quiet long enough in a good spot and maybe get lucky, but let’s talk about the chase! Afterall that is the predictable path of this hunter maturation we are following, it’s the chase.
A turkey being a bird, has a diverse language. They make lots of sounds and they communicate like all other birds. For a turkey hunter, learning this language and how to replicate it both in sound quality and in real life scenario is the challenge. It is also a huge part of the passion, you see not long into your hunting career, you begin wanting to not just shoot a Tom but also call him up for the shot.
A Native Approach
The Native Americans figured this out long ago, before the NWTF and state sanctioned hunting seasons. They had to fool a turkey into kill range to survive. They figured out how to talk like a turkey and how to replicate their language. One of the oldest tricks they passed down was the use of friction on a slate rock to create the yelps, clucks, purrs, and other sounds of hen turkeys. The Native Americans would take a flat piece of slate and cup it into the hands and scratch it with another carefully chosen stone to produce these sounds. These days modern day call makers have mastered this age-old tactic with a product we call a pot call.
The general anatomy of a pot call is a hollowed out “pot” made from a variety of materials and in a variety of shapes and sizes with a surface set inside referred to as a sound board, and a flush fitting surface material that is used to apply the friction that then reverberates into the pot and off of the sound board creating turkey talk! The accomplice to the pot call is a striker, a device used to apply the friction on the calling surface and in modern day calls is generally found as a pencil like stick made of a variety of materials such as wood, carbon, or acrylic and ergonomically designed for the caller to easily scratch out the sweet sounds! The final piece necessary is some form on conditioning material, such as sandpaper or course stone to keep the surface “scratched” a most capable of consistent friction.
The Perfect Call
Such lends itself to another step of possible hunter maturation, many of us go from shooting turkeys, to better understanding and calling turkeys, to then wanting to be able to make our own success. Maybe even to creating or modifying our tools to make them our own. Custom call making is a very common and very rewarding practice in the turkey hunting world. As with most manufacturing, the larger the scale and the most outsourced the product, the more issues with consistent quality. As a call maker, I like to think of these noise producers like instruments. The best quality instruments are made of the best quality materials. There are certain distinctions between calls, they are not all made the same and you do get what you pay for.
Pot calls are best manufactured, like a guitar, with quality wood pots. At T3 Custom Game Calls all of our pots are handcrafted from quality wood and our designs are tested and proven to produced to highest quality sounds you can create in the spring woods. We are proud to partner with SKRE and its industry leading camo pattern Summit, that we believe is absolutely dynamite in the spring woods, to produce a glass pot call featuring the SKRE camo and our hand tuned craftsmanship. Each call is hand tuned and uniquely paired with a striker chosen to produce the best sounds. These pots will be walnut and feature a glass calling surface over a glass sound board, paired with a variety of striker configurations made of hickory, diamond wood, and purple heart.
Best of luck in the woods this spring, take a kid hunting, grow our sport and always hunt safe and ethically. And remember, with T3 calls “don’t just call at him, talk to him”