Turkey hunters have never been better prepared to match wits with the wary wild gobbler. Turkey hunting is one of the fastest-growing outdoors sports, and manufacturers are cranking out products. Here’s a sampling of the best and newest gear on the market.
The plastic and rubber Gobble Shaker by Quaker Boys easily reproduces a realistic wild turkey gobble with a twist of your wrist.
Traditional gobble calls are either difficult to master or sound like a gobble made by a dying turkey. The Gobble Shaker can make any hunter sound like the real thing.
Many hunters like to listen for gobblers around sundown so they know where to hunt the next morning. Turkeys often gobble when they hear another turkey gobbling, which is where the Gobble Shaker comes in. Drive to likely spots before the season opens and use the call early in the morning and late in the afternoon to locate gobblers.
Two new box calls worth investigating are the Eddie Salter Old Master and Knight & Hale Pocket Paddle. The Salter call is ideal for novices. The box is angled so that the paddle always strikes the edge at the proper angle. The call has a tone that veteran hunters can appreciate.
Many hunters are convinced that hen decoys can help bring in a wary gobbler. While there’s a debate over what types of decoys work best, Jim Cripe, of Outlaw Decoys in Spokane, says there’s more and more evidence that silhouette-style decoys are superior.
Outlaw makes a durable photo-image decoy that’s ultra-light, lifelike and complete with a motion stake that allows the decoy to move with the wind.
The silhouettes are thought to be better than three-dimensional decoys because as the gobbler moves, his view of the decoy will change - sometimes to the point that it disappears.
With full-body decoys, gobblers tend to hold off waiting for the hen to come to them. But with silhouettes, there’s reason to believe gobblers will move closer to investigate the “now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t” hen.
For a copy of Outlaw’s decoy and game call catalog - complete with savvy tips for turkey hunters - call 927-2750 or (800) 653-3269.
Concealment is critical to getting close to wild turkeys, more so than with any other game animal. The naturally cautious birds have excellent hearing and eyesight. If something doesn’t look quite right to them, they’re gone.
Seemingly everybody makes camouflage these days. Two of the best brands are Mossy Oak and Realtree. Both companies have a variety of patterns and colors to fit all hunting situations and all hunting equipment, from boots to guns to bows.
The newest idea from Mossy Oak is reversible pants and jackets that allow hunters to adapt to changing conditions. “It just gives you the ability to customize a little bit, because you never know where you’re going to hunt,” said Mossy Oak’s Carsie Young, adding that turkey hunters could wear fall foliage pants to match dead leaves on the ground and a full foliage top to blend in with green undergrowth.
Most turkey hunters pursue gobblers with shotguns, luring them into range with their calls. In most cases, that range is 15-40 yards. Hunters aim for the base of the bird’s neck, hoping to put one or more shotgun pellets in the gobbler’s brain and spine.
The more pellets you can put in that vital zone, the cleaner the kill. Rhino choke tubes, made in Davie, Fla., leave no doubt about the results of an on-target shot.
The tubes screw into the end of a shotgun barrel and determine how tight or open the pattern or spread of pellets is. Rhino’s full and extra-full tubes produce tighter, more consistent, more uniform patterns than factory tubes. Rhino makes choke tubes to fit any shotgun barrel that is already threaded. Rhino owner Joe Morales also can thread an un-threaded barrel or make a tight-shooting turkey barrel out of a standard barrel.
To make sure your shot is on target, Simmons offers master red dot scopes for shotgunners.
Originally used by competitive shooters, red dot scopes allow you to get on a gobbler’s vital zone quickly. They also eliminate the mistake some turkey hunters make of putting the shotgun bead on the turkey, but not looking down the barrel, which results in a shot over the turkey’s head. The scopes, which have no magnification, provide a brighter image than the naked eye, especially in deep woods.
After you’ve acquired all your gear, learn how to make the best use of it by reading “Ultimate Turkey Hunting,” by Harold Knight and David Hale with Wade Bourne.
Between Knight and Hale, founders of Knight & Hale game call company, there’s more than 50 years of turkey-hunting know-how crammed into 192 pages.
“I don’t know that we could write another turkey hunting book because we told all our secrets,” Hale said.
Among their many insights:
Turkey hunting can be excellent from 9-11 a.m., when most other hunters have given up and a gobbler is “lonesome as a Maytag repairman.”
When you hear a turkey coming toward you, get your shotgun or bow in a ready position. If you wait until you see the turkey, it could be too late.
Be patient. Just because a bird stops gobbling doesn’t mean he’s not coming in.
To order the book ($13.50), call (502) 924-1755.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with story: Turkey tips “Wild Turkey Hunting in Idaho,” a free brochure, covers where turkeys can be found, their biology and tips for identification and hunting. It’s available from regional Fish and Game Department offices or from IFG Headquarters, P.O. Box 25, Boise 83707.