Start Now to Prepare for Turkey Season

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I named my call the Northern Scratchbox. It isn’t the only scratchbox call, but learn to play it and it will give the gobblers you hunt something they haven’t heard. (Steve Sorensen photo)
I named my call the Northern Scratchbox. It isn’t the only scratchbox call, but learn to play it and it will give the gobblers you hunt something they haven’t heard. (Steve Sorensen photo)

Contributing Writer
Steve Sorensen

It’s still March, but the weeks between now and spring gobbler season will fly by. You have preparations to do, and it’s time to get busy.

Getting ready for spring gobbler season is different from preparing for deer season. We still need to do the scouting. We still need to get our gear ready. But leading up to deer season are the small game seasons and other seasons, so deer season doesn’t sneak up on us. Turkey season will be here before you know it.

Preceding turkey season is a long list of things to do that have nothing to do with hunting. Getting the yard in shape is no small task. Tree limbs have fallen through the winter, grass has died here and there, and the lawn tractor needs its battery checked, its oil changed, and its blades sharpened. Roof gutters need cleaning, windows need washed, and trees need pruned. And don’t short change your kids on spring baseball seasons—get out to their practices and games. Yes, you plate is full in spring, but you still need to pattern your shotgun and get your calls ready.

Turkey calls are like knives—you can never have too many. But can you use them all? Probably not. But each year, before the season, get every call you have, lay them on the table, and play around with them. (Spare the lady of the house the ear irritation—do it when she’s not home. But if you are the lady of the house, make all the purrs, clucks and yelps you want.)

Every call you have was made to call turkeys. Whether you can use it like it was meant to be used is the question. Maybe last year that long box you have didn’t sound quite like you want, so you went with a short box. Check the side rails of your box call and make sure they curve smoothly without nicks or flat spots. A very fine piece of sandpaper can correct that, but don’t overdo it.

Maybe that pot call, whether surfaced with glass, slate, copper or some other material, didn’t make what you thought was a killer sound, so you never used it. This year, try a different striker, or focus on the angle of the striker as you draw it across the surface. Or press harder, quicker, or make longer strokes. You might decide that’s the one for this year.

Then there are the diaphragm calls. Buy one each of three or four brands and see what’s comfortable in your mouth. When you find one, buy a few of that brand with different reed configurations, and practice in the car where the only person you’ll drive mad is yourself.

To call and kill a spring gobbler, even a mature one, you don’t need to be an expert caller. But you do need to give the gobbler something he wants to hear. Your chances of doing that go way up if you can become proficient with at least three calls so that if turkeys don’t respond to one, they may respond to another. A little variety in the calls you use will give you more opportunities to work gobblers.

Here’s my final piece of advice. It’s smart to try a new call every year. Get a feel for something different. And the one call I suggest you buy is the one I invented. It’s a scratchbox. I developed it with two sound chambers inside, and I made it so it will make high-pitched or low-pitched calls, sweet plain yelps or raspy yelps, inviting purrs or the deadly fighting purr, and a range of other sounds. It has been deadly for me for the last several years.

As I said, you can never have too many turkey calls. I make this unique call from start to finish. I harvested the cherry and maple logs, I put the calls into the package, and I do every step between. I can’t promise it will get you a gobbler, but I can tell you it made me a better turkey hunter, and it’s worth checking out. See it on my website at www.EverydayHunter.com, and start getting ready for turkey season now.

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Steve Sorensen
Steve Sorensen of Russell, PA is an award-winning outdoor writer whose column, The Everyday Hunter®, offers hunting tips, strategies, and insights on how to think about hunting. His byline has appeared in the nation’s top hunting magazines including Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Deer & Deer Hunting, Pennsylvania Game News, Fur-Fish-Game, North American Whitetail, Bear Hunting Magazine and more. He contributes regular website content to Legendary Whitetails and Havalon Knives and is a field editor for Deer Hunters Online. Steve is also in demand as an event speaker, presenting programs on do-it-yourself Alaska moose hunting, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, and eastern coyotes, with new programs coming. E-mail him at EverydayHunter@gmail.com to invite him to speak at your next sportsmen’s dinner (or to tell him where your best hunting spot is).