Turkeys Don’t Talk Turkey

This beautiful call was crafted by my friend John Buchin out of my neighbors 25-year-old spalted maple tree. It has aged beautifully and sounds amazing when someone else uses it.

The sport of turkey hunting seems to have an almost magical allure for those who try it. It’s a tough feeling to convey, but there’s no question that the calling is one of the prime attractions. I’ve often wondered if people would be fanatical about turkey hunting if it simply meant bushwacking for mute birds or taking them on the wing like oversized pheasants.

– Ray Eye, Hunting Wild Turkeys with Ray Eye

It is almost that time.

When hunters of all races, genders, and ages abandon the warmth of their beds at inconvenient hours to traverse the tick-riddled thickets of the turkey woods. I will be among them, looking for the opportunity to put arrow to flight and watch fletching disappear within its origin.

I have yet to kill a turkey and have spent years trying. I’ve come close. Very close. And though I’ve been outsmarted and outmaneuvered season-after-season ⏤ remain undeterred.

Hunting turkeys has never been about the killing. It’s everything leading up to it. Oversized pheasant isn’t on my menu. Nor is it on the menu of my associate John Buchin (who fashioned the call photographed above).

The wild turkey (meleagris gallopavo) is a special species with a language that takes seasons to speak and a lifetime to become fluent. Any turkey hunter worth his arrows or shells will echo this statement with passionate inflection. Talking turkey is a lifestyle, not a skill. This is why I suggest watching a seasoned translator work a bird before attempting it on your own. The poetic coos, sultry yelps, and violent gobbling has the power to humble the cockiest cluckers and cause the squarest of jaws to quiver with emotion.

I am experienced in this regard. My compatriot is a fantastic caller ⏤ better than I could ever be ⏤ which is why my calls tend to stay in the vest when we hunt together. Squawking on a pot while he’s conducting business feels a bit like singing along with the car radio and turning up the volume to drown out the results.

I don’t need to be a bad background vocalist while John’s wooing a flock of sex-crazed 20 pounders. Some of us are better off strumming the guitar in the back of the band, which is why I hold the binoculars.

Still, we make a good team. It may not appear that way on paper but it isn’t for lack of trying. We’ve had wonderful encounters and more fun than I could possibly share on this keyboard. I am certain that our day will come ⏤ sooner rather than later. And I hope that John is the one that drops the string. He’s earned every bit of that honor.

Good luck out there. Stay safe. Have fun talking turkey!

John Buchin is the owner and operator of Crooked Talon Game Calls. You can find his work on his website or Facebook. He needs more excuses to hop on the lathe.

Catching Up

In Episode #114, Steve and I catch up after a short hiatus. We give everyone an update on why the break was required, Steve’s wife’s health and a thank you for all the support the Angell’s have received. Then we spend some time chatting about the 3D target season and shoots across the country and then about fly fishing, fly tying, and more.

It had been some time since Steve and I sat down to record a podcast. My microphone was dusty but the batteries still had a bit of life left in them. I could think of no better metaphor for the show. These last few months of winter had been uncertain at best. Steve and I had hardly spoken save for a few messages back-and-forth and I tried to keep that correspondence as light-hearted as possible. I find that when times are difficult, one chuckle is worth a thousand “how are you doings?”.

I wasn’t sure what we would talk about when Steve started recording. The show had been a machine up until that point, posting 111 episodes with a long break after 112. We had guests on the regular and always had a plan until the pandemic arrived and life intervened. As Mike Tyson elegantly put it, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

This past year left us both with swollen lips and bleeding gums.

We were rough at first but our longstanding rapport and years of friendship removed the rust to reveal the honed edge beneath. Suddenly, the episode mattered very little. The context of Episode 113 became two friends catching up, which was fine by me.

The conversation took several turns, but we eventually landed on fly tying, which is something we both had been doing a lot of since upgrading our vises. Steve purchased a new Regal and gifted his well-loved and maintained Danvise to me. It was a substantial upgrade that leveled my fly-tying prowess from “serviceable” to “half-way presentable”. The improvements fueled my desire for materials, which had a noticeable effect on my bank account. It didn’t take me long to accumulate an assortment of hooks, feathers, beads, and thread.

I regret nothing.

Thank you for reading and please give Episode 113 a listen when you have a chance!

Visit Traditional Outdoors for more episodes. We have a tremendous back-catalog I am sure you will enjoy. Also, my second book Clumsy Predators is progressing nicely. I have eleven chapters penned and am hoping to end at around 16. I am hoping to publish in time for the 2022 Traditional Bowhunter’s Expo and would love to have everything wrapped up by this Fall. Stay tuned for updates.