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!