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  • by Steve Sorensen | The Everyday Hunter®

Tips on Turkey Hunting — #6: TAKE A BREAK, AND LISTEN!

Did you know you can make the same communication mistake with turkey gobblers that you do with your spouse? That’s right! One of the common communication complaints husbands and wives make is that the other doesn’t listen. Sometimes we get so focused on what we’re going to say that we pay no attention to what the other says.

In turkey hunting it happens when you're using a hen assembly call or a fighting purr to locate gobblers. If you make long series of calls, maybe 20 to 30 seconds, and the gobbler answers back in the first five or ten seconds of your calling sequence, you probably won’t hear him. You might walk away, or he might be headed your way without you even knowing he answered. If he’s not very far away, he’ll show up when you’re straining your ears to hear some distant gobbler.

When you’re trying to locate a gobbler, give yourself the opportunity to listen. It’s not a big problem when you use an owl hoot or a crow call, or some other brief call that gets turkeys to “shock” gobble. But if you’re using a fighting purr or a series of lost hen yelps, make your first calling sequence short—no more than about five seconds. After that, limit your calling sequences to ten seconds, and then break for ten to twenty seconds. That gives the gobbler a chance to respond while your ears aren’t being flooded with the sound you yourself are making. I’m sure many a hunter has missed hearing a gobble because he didn’t pause to listen.

Communication is always a two-way street—in the turkey woods just like in your household—and if you don't listen you miss the conversation. In the turkey woods, that can cost you a gobbler. In marriage, it can cost you a lot more.

Watch for more “Tips on Turkey Hunting” two or three times each week until mid-May. I don’t claim to be the best turkey hunter around, but I’ll share what I know. It might be helpful to those who pursue our greatest game bird. While you're at it, check out my gobbler-killin' scratchbox turkey call at It's full of deadly sounds.

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