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  • by Steve Sorensen | The Everyday Hunter®

Tips on Turkey Hunting — #10: SEEK REALISM OVER PERFECTION!

Have you ever been to a junior high music concert? That’s one place you’ll hear some imperfect notes. Another place is in the turkey woods. Most experienced callers can call as well as turkeys can. Some can call flawlessly, never hitting a sour note and never breaking cadence.

We used to think our calling had to be perfect. We thought making a bad sound meant game-over. Now we know making an odd note is not imperfection—it’s realism. Real turkeys don’t make perfect calls either. Some hens sound awful.

When you’re in the woods, listen to the hens. You’ll find that few of them have perfect voices. Not only are some raspy and some sweet, if you listen you’ll hear odd notes that don’t seem to fit. What do they do? They keep on calling. And no matter how bad a hen’s calling is, she can still call in a gobbler.

It’s only my guess, but I’m thinking that those odd notes probably come when the hen is walking, or breathing interrupts her cadence or alters her tone. We used to think imperfection meant game-over, but it means game-on. The truth is that hen you mimic is not a great caller!

This is not an excuse to settle for lousy calling. Better callers are the consistently successful hunters, so learn all you can and keep on getting better. But never hesitate when you make a note that doesn’t sound right to your ears. Keep right on going. That’s what the junior high band director does—he or she makes the band play on. Going back to correct the mistake is OK in practice, but in performance you just play on. The parents of the junior high band members will forget the off-key note. So will the gobbler you’re calling. Just follow that bad note with a good one. The gobbler won’t mind!

I’ll be posting more “Tips on Turkey Hunting” as often as I can until the end of 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 America’s greatest game bird. While you're at it, check out my gobbler-killin' Northern Scratchbox turkey call at It's full of deadly sounds.

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