By Dan Stephany
Bass Pro Shops Altoona Receiving Manager
Anybody who has ever sat in pre-dawn darkness around mid-April and heard the unforgettable sound of a gobbler firing off understands the excitement of spring turkey season. When that experience includes taking a young person, the level of excitement increases exponentially. I have had the privilege of taking my 11-year-old son, Micah, turkey hunting each of the past three springs. Seeing the look on his face when he hears a tom off in the distance is my favorite part. The challenge for me is to consistently put us in a position where we not only hear the birds, but call them in to our set of decoys for a potential shot.
I have found over the past few seasons that allowing Micah to participate in the calling makes the hunt more enjoyable for him, and builds in him the skills necessary for the day in the future when he will be hunting on his own. I would like to tell you about some of the products that I have used that have worked great for us, and been easy enough for someone new to turkey hunting to buy off the shelf and have success as well.
The first call I like to use is a box call. My favorite is the RedHead Jerry Martin Signature Series in Walnut/Sassafras. RedHead makes an entire line of easy to use box calls in different woods for different tones. These calls are fun for kids to use because they are very easy to operate. The other side benefit of a box call is with the addition of a simple rubber band around the handle, shaking the box call can be used to mimic a gobble as well. While this may not always work to get a gobbler fired up, I have found it to be easiest for us to get a bird to respond. Combined with other friction calls and diaphragm calls, we have had success getting birds to talk back to us.
You have heard the phrase, “talk is cheap.” This also applies to calling turkeys. Simply calling to them may not always work. Putting a lifelike decoy in front of you to catch their outstanding eyesight definitely helps close the deal. My personal favorite decoy to use is the feeding hen by AvianX. This decoy is an inflatable rubber shell with some of the most lifelike colors on the market. It is easy to set up and comes with its own carrying bag. When you combine this decoy with a semi-strutting jake, it drives those spring gobblers nuts. We have seen toms come running in across an open field to challenge the ‘intruder’. This was exactly the situation on Micah’s first turkey, which came from over 400 yards all the way in to 10 yards before Micah’s shot rang out.
Taking a youngster out to the spring woods with you is one of the most enjoyable experiences you will ever have in the outdoors. Having the right equipment for them to use and participate in the hunt with makes all the difference and ensures our tradition of turkey hunting is passed down to the next generation. I look forward to sharing how Micah’s season goes this spring in some future blogs.
Until then, good luck and shoot straight!