I use just one—one turkey call.
If you’ve been hunting for as long as I have, you’ve probably heard or read, “Beware the man with one gun.” It means that the hunter with one gun knows how to use it. He will make the shot. Every time. He knows his gun’s capabilities. He knows his own limits. He knows his ammunition, his trigger, and every aspect of the gun. He doesn’t jump from gun to gun. He knows one gun intimately, and he shoots it well.
But you haven’t heard anyone say, “Beware the turkey hunter with one call.” We’re told the opposite—that we need lots of calls because, on any given day, we never know what the gobbler will respond to. Of course, that idea helps manufacturers sell more calls, and it’s why turkey vests are designed with countless interior and exterior pockets where we can hide so many calls that we forget what we’ve stowed away.
Although I said “we,” I’ll speak for myself. I don’t have that problem. I don’t stuff turkey calls into the deepest, darkest recesses of my vest, never to be found. Instead, I’ll have a flashlight, a half-dozen shotgun shells, a knife, an extra facemask, an extra pair of gloves (I lose things), some TP, some drink boxes (apple juice), water, snacks…
…and just one call. I made the call myself. I’ve made more than 1,000 of them, and they work. It’s common for a hunter to contact me to tell me he (or in the case of Maggie, she) took a nice gobbler the first time hunting with it.
What’s special about my call? Only that it will fool my next gobbler. Why? Because I’ve spent so much time with this call. I’ve practiced with it to perfection. I get the most from it.
That’s not to say it will call every gobbler to my shotgun, but I can make many sounds with it. It makes the sweetest, clearest yelps, raspy yelps, light purrs, and high to low pitches. It makes clucks, loud or soft cuts, gobbler yelps, and the deadly fighting purr. Since mastering this call, I’ve had more action—and success—in the spring gobbler woods than ever before.
So, I’m that guy—the man who takes just one call into the turkey woods. Even though that’s not what the marketers and merchandisers tell us to do, next month I’ll be staring down the barrel of my shotgun at the all-American colors decorating the head of a mature gobbler. Then he’ll get a ride in my truck. You can too. (You can use my call, or another call, but use your own truck).
I’ll be happy to sell you my call, but I’m not asking you to buy it. I sell them as fast as I can make them, so I don’t need more sales. I’m just telling you that what I have learned from making my own call, you might be able to apply to a big problem in the turkey woods that keeps lots of hunters from success.
It’s this: the average turkey hunter invests in many calls and jumps from one to another. Many hunters don’t succeed because they never master any of them and don’t get everything that’s in the call out to the gobbler. Many perfectly good calls end up stored away in a box, ignored.
If you know what I’m saying, open that box of old calls you’ve ignored for years. Go through your turkey vest. Sort through all your calls and spend a few hours running them. Find some online recordings and mimic their sounds. Soon you’ll begin to see which calls give you confidence, which calls make the greatest variety of sounds, and which calls are easy to use.
Besides my own experience, here’s what gives me the confidence to tell you this. Eighty years ago, hunters didn’t carry a dozen calls. Many of those old-timers made their own, killed lots of gobblers, and never went home wishing they had a better call. Do what they did—develop great skill with one call. (A couple, if you insist.) And you’re bound to be more confident and more successful in the turkey woods.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He is a field contributor to Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.