The Everyday Hunter: The Password is G-O-B-B-L-E

This gobbler shouted out his password with nearly every breath.
This gobbler shouted out his password with nearly every breath.
Steve Sorensen
Steve Sorensen
Contribiting Writer

A common debate among hunters is whether deer or turkeys are more fun to hunt.

People who prefer hunting deer might say, “Turkeys don’t have antlers!” Hunters who favor turkeys will say “Deer don’t gobble!” To each his own, I suppose. But for me, I just sidestep that question. In the fall I’d rather hunt deer. In the spring, give me gobblers.

I’ve spent a lot of time inventing and perfecting my own turkey call, and I wish I could invent a deer call that is as effective. Calling animals is exciting, but deer seem much less moved by vocal communication, and much more intelligent than turkeys. We can call them, but they depend much more on their noses than their ears.

Plus, deer don’t give away their location the way a gobbler does in the spring. In calling deer, the hunter must start the conversation and the deer can’t be heard from far away. In spring gobbler hunting, turkeys start the conversation, sometimes from hundreds of yards.

Since it’s up to you to begin the conversation with a buck, there’s no particular password. For lovelorn gobblers, the password to nature’s dating website is one that hunters strain their ears to hear. The password is G-O-B-B-L-E! As soon as you hear it, it’s game-on!

A week into this year’s spring gobbler season, I’ve been unable to hack the gobbler dating website. It’s not that my calling isn’t good. I’ve been pretty successful over the years, especially with my Northern Scratchbox call. It’s because I’m not hearing the password.

I’m not seeing other sign of turkeys either. Tracks are very scarce. I haven’t seen a single dropping. No feathers either. When winter was in its final throes, I didn’t see many turkeys from the road. It just doesn’t seem like we have many turkeys right now where I live.

For the last several years biologists have been saying the wild turkey population has been in decline. It hasn’t seemed so to me, until now. I’m wondering what other hunters have been seeing and hearing, whether in farm land or the big woods, whether on private or public property.

By the time you read this, maybe things will have changed. It’s common during the season for gobblers to be silent for a week or more. Maybe that’s because they’re with hens. Maybe it’s because of temperature or barometric pressure. Maybe this year that’s happening at the beginning of the season. Or maybe it’s because of hunting pressure — maybe the COVID-19 quarantine has put more hunters in the woods. Or maybe, the peak of gobbling activity is right around the corner.

The important thing is to be there. Turkey hunting is tough when gobblers are silent, but when they shout out their password you need to be ready to offer them a link that sounds inviting. In other words, it will be time to hack their dating website.

When you’re in the woods for one reason only, and go days and days without hearing a turkey gobble, it’s like a baseball game where the pitcher never gets around to throwing the ball. Other times, it’s like a game where the pitcher works in a fast and furious way. The gobbler throws pitch after pitch at you, and working him with the call for an hour seems like a few minutes.

When he shouts his password at you with nearly every breath, he’s saying, “Hack me! Hack me!” That’s when turkey hunting is as good as it gets.

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, He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.