Apparently turkey calls don’t have to be perfect

By PHIL DIFATTA,

I offered up some of my best yelps and purrs to a boisterous gobbler one morning, but the tough old bird absolutely refused to be fooled. He'd come and go, come and go, but never gave me a shot. There were no natural barriers between us to stop him, and I just couldn't understand it.

Then I realized the problem. Another hunter was calling the same bird. But this guy was awful, and it sounded like he was about to choke to death on his mouth call. Really, I figured I'd have to perform CPR at any moment... Granted, I'm not the best turkey caller in the world, but this guy was so bad I couldn't figure for the life of me why the turkey didn't come to me.

I soon realized “the hunter” was on the move … right toward me. What else could go wrong? His calls kept getting closer and when I finally eyeballed him, I couldn't believe what I saw. The terrible yelps came not from another hunter, but a real, live turkey hen. And lo and behold, the magnificent gobbler was following right on her tail feathers. So I was obligated to send him to that “great turkey roost in the sky” with a blast from my 3-inch magnum.

I learned right then and there that not all turkeys make perfect calls, so I stopped worrying about making a goof. Besides, good calling (or semi-decent, in my case) is only a small part of successful turkey hunting. In fact, some veteran turkey hunters will tell you that calling is not even a close second to what it takes to put turkeys on the ground. And I agree.

The main thing is to know the bird. Know its quirks – what it will or won't do. Read turkey articles, books and watch videos. Listen to seasoned veterans. Get out and observe turkeys in their natural habitat as often as you can. And if you're a beginner or simply not proficient, listen to audio of turkey sounds and be the best you can be at calling. Just remember you don't always have to make that perfect call to kill turkeys.

I could go on and on and bore you to tears with examples (probably already have) of what you should or shouldn't do. But if you're just taking up turkey hunting, THE BEST and quickest way to learn is to hunt with a veteran. I'm convinced you could learn more in one hunt with a veteran than you could the entire season on your own. The hard part is finding a veteran willing to take a greenhorn, although I do hope I'm wrong on this one.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks expects the turkey population in this neck of the woods to be about the same as last year, which was not bad. They say it's only going to get better, too, because of the “once-in-a-generation hatch” experienced in 2018.

With that thought in mind, here's hoping you have a great season. And, as always, when you go, try to take a kid with you … every time you can!

Youth Season ends March 14, while the regular Spring Season is March 15 – May 1.

PineBelt News outdoor writer Phil DiFatta may be reached for outdoor-related announcements, photos and comments at pdifatta@hotmail.com. Readers may also text photos with contact info to 601-596-4475.

PREP SPORTS: