* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 104
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 2
  • Dot Users Online:

Tippin Scales Charters 54lbs

* Spring Turkey Hunting - Call selection

Why do I carry different calls in my turkey vest?
by Don Mattice (Dr. Honk)
The answer is quite simple. There are days when one call will get  toms fired up and other days when you use your favorite call and do not get one response.
That does not mean the turkeys have left the area. They are still around, just not responding to the call you have selected.
I recall this first happening about 10 years ago. I was hunting a small wood lot near my home. There was a light mist in the air as I set out my single hen decoy  I put a diaphram call in my mouth and and ran a series of yelps. I would wait about five minutes and then begin the series again, adding some clucks and purrs. I continued this pattern for about 40 minutes. Nothing was responding. I had a few more hours to hunt so I decided to wait it out in that small patch of woods. I thought I would switch it up a little and practice with a slate call I had brought along.
I tried scratching out some turkey sounds but all I could get from the damp slate were some very faint yelps. To me they were barely audible but a tom exploded with a thunderous gobble about twenty yards away. I scratched out another yelp and the gobbler came in like he was on a string. I killed him at 10 steps.

The Diaphram Call

This call is the most difficult  to master but offers the advantage of hands free calling. The diaphram allows you to make those  seductive yelps or clucks to close that gobbler without spooking the bird with hand movement.
There are two basic types of diaphram calls, clear calls and raspy calls. Clear calls are meant to sound like young hens. They are configured with single or multiple reeds. When I first began turkey hinting,I started out using this style of call (Quaker Boy Pro triple) and killed a lot of gobblers.
There were times when I could get a gobbler to answer me on the roost but as soon as he hit the ground, that old boss hen would lead him in the opposite direction. I wanted to put a little rasp in my calling to mimic her but could not figure out how to accomplish this. It was not until several years later that I discovered there were calls designed to be raspy.
Raspy calls are constructed with a top reed that has a cut of some shape and additional uncut reeds below. My favorite "go to" call is a HS Strut split V ll, lll or lV. I have killed the majority of my 83 gobblers using this call.

The Box Call

This call is one of the easiest calls to use. It is very popular with  hunters that are just starting out or for the seasoned veteran that prefers this style call. I carry one of these calls in my vest and use it when I am trying to locate a late morning gobbler or when I can not get a response using my diaphram call.
The important thing to learn when using a box call or other style call  is cadence. Cadence is the rhythm of a call. The next time you are in the field, listen to the sounds of a real hen and try to duplicate those sounds.

The "Slate" Call

Also known as the peg and pot, this call produces some very realistic turkey sounds. You will need to practice some with this call as it is a little more difficult to use than the box call. The original calls were made with a slate surface on top of a sound chamber. Sounds are produced by scratching a striker on the surface of the slate. Today's modern calls have surfaces made of slate, glass, aluminum or composite materials.

The three style calls mentioned above are the most widely used. There are other calls available such as the wing bone yelper and a tube call.
I have made several wing bone yelpers over the past few years and plan on using one this coming spring to call in a gobbler.

* Spring Turkey Hunting - Decoy selection and set ups

by Don Mattice (Dr. Honk)

The use of turkey decoys has definitely helped hunters put more spring gobblers on the table. While some states do not allow the use of decoys, New York happens to be one that does.

The Beginning

My obsession with turkey hunting began in the late 1960's in Delaware County. My grandfather, Ford Mattice, had ~ 100 acres of land that consisted of hardwoods, evergreens, fields, swamps and ponds. All the ingredients needed to raise quality whitetails and to my surprise, the elusive Eastern wild turkey.
There were not alot of turkeys or turkey hunters in Northern NY at that time. I had read some articles on how to hunt  these birds but I had no one to hunt with that had been a successful turkey harvester. Everything I learned was buy trial and error. In the beginning, it was more error  but I learned enough to kill my first gobbler (a jake) in my second season of hunting. I have been totally addicted ever since.

The Early Years

In those early years I did not use or even know they made turkey decoys. I had harvested a few birds with out the use of any fakes but I was not killing gobblers every season. It wasn't until a decade  later that I purchased my first decoy. It was a hard body Carrylite Tom/Hen type of decoy that had the head and body of a gobbler but did not have a beard. I thought this was a little strange but I didn't know any different.
I was excited with my purchase as I felt that I had found the key that would make me a more successful and consistent turkey slayer. I have to tell you that I did not kill one gobbler using that new decoy. It seemed to scare the birds rather than draw them closer. Something needed to change. I figured since Toms come to hens, I needed a decoy that looked more like a hen than a Tom. In those days I had limited funds and could not afford to buy a different decoy. So, I gave the one I had a make over with a new paint job.
The following spring, I began to have better success with my new "girl" decoy. Not necessarily with long beards, but I was able to call in jakes with regularity.

Over the years I have purchased several different types and styles of turkey decoys. I would like to share what has worked for me and what has not worked.......... so far.

Buckwing Jake and Hen

This combo is my favorite "go to" set up for spring gobblers. I have killed more mature long beards hunting over this pair than any other set up in my arsenal. The reason, mature gobblers do not like the thought of a jake trying to steal their lady friends. Most of the time they will charge in and head right for the jake decoy, size it up, and try to run it off. If the jake does not initially move, they will do their best to spur the heck out of their opponent. It is at this point in the hunt you should introduce Mr. Gobbler to your favorite turkey load.
For decoy placement, I adjust the stake on my hen decoy to be lower than the jake. I plant the jake in a position following the hen with about 5 feet in between decoys. The purpose - when a gobbler comes in, he can circle the jake without bumping into the hen. I have also set up with the hen and jake facing each other with some success but prefer the first set up. If I am field hunting, the decoys are out about 35 yards. In open hardwoods, I usually have them about 20 yards out.

Buckwing Multiple Hens

I have had instances where mature gobblers would come to the edge of the field, look over the hen and jake set up and not come any closer. I believe these Toms have done battle with jakes in the past and are intimidated. The next time I hunt these gobblers, I leave the jake in the truck and add one or two additional hens.
In a three hen set up, I use two upright decoys and a feeding decoy with a motion head. The feeding hen decoy has a very realistic head movement but you need to use this in short grass of cut corn fields as it is difficult to view in taller grass.
I place the decoys about 5 yards apart in random positions. The spacing between  decoys is very important if you want a realistic look. Hens do not like to feed close to each other. If you observe wild birds in the field, you will notice this. They will also purr when they feed. The purr lets the other hens know when they are getting too close.

Primos B-Mobile Gobbler / Hens

I purchased a B-Mobile full strut gobbler decoy several years ago. This decoy is supposed to mimic a mature gobbler that has wandered into a boss gobbler's territory. It has a very realistic look, especially when used with a real turkey tail.
The decoy comes standard with a silk fan and a foldable plastic device that has slots for adding real turkey feathers.
The set up I use consists of two hens, one feeder and one upright, and B-Mobile positioned behind the hens. I always place the strutting decoy facing me. I have not used this combo very often and to date I have not harvested a gobbler over this set up.....Yet.
I believe if I used this combination more often, I would be successful. I just do not have the same degree of confidence with this set up versus the hen and jake set up.
Who knows, maybe this coming spring will be the year B-Mobile earns his keep.

* Spring Turkey Hunting - Adaption

Things Change - Deal with it!
by Don Mattice (Dr. Honk)

I arrived in Sparta, GA around noon the day before the 2012 spring turkey season opener. I met my long time friend, John Steel, at his cabin and we proceeded to the local sporting goods store in Sandersville to purchase my non-resident turkey licence. We ate a quick lunch and headed back to the cabin for an afternoon scouting expedition.
John had told me that some of the landscape had changed on his property so we got on the four wheelers and took a ride. He showed me the 38 acres that had been clear cut. We had killed a few gobblers in that area over the years but it was not my prime hunting area. The adjacent food plots were all in good shape and offered possible hunting opportunities.
My main interest was scouting the other side of the property where I have harvested  the majority of my GA turkeys. As we got closer to the honey hole, my excitement started to dwindle as I wiffed the familiar smell of burnt pine sap. John had forgot to mention that they had done some controlled burning on 300+ acres of my prime turkey hunting habitat the previous Monday. As I viewed the burnt landscape, I started to get a knot in the pit of my stomach.

I supposed I could have moped around, kicking my self, for shelling out a fist full of of benjamins on air fare, a rental car, and a hunting licence. Or, I could adapt to the situation. I decided that since I was going to be there for six days, I was going to make the most out of it.

Opening Day
The alarm was set for 5:45 am. This would give me plenty of time to get ready, have some breakfast and arrive at my hunting spot at least 45 minutes before the 7:30 am sunrise. There was really no need to even set an alarm as I was up at 5:00 am and ready for the morning adventure. I chose to hunt an area on the clear cut side of the property. I had set up in this area before but the turkeys normally roosted in the pine plantation across the dirt road. Maybe this morning things would be different.
I heard the first gobble at 7:15 am about 500 yards from my hiding position. There was a slight, variable, breeze. It took a few gobbles to determine the direction where that sweet music originated. You remember that dirt road I mentioned earlier? Yup, he was on the other side of it. Unfortunatly, that property was posted so I had to try and work him to my side of the road. As he hit the ground, I felt he was moving in my direction. A loud shot, which came from the posted side, dashed all hopes of toting that gobbler back to the cabin.
Once that liitle bit of excitement was over, I decided to do some running and gunning. I would walk a few hundred yards and call in hopes of getting a response. I tried this strategy for the next two hours but could not raise a gobble. I did see one mature hen cross a food plot and head into the clear cut but that was it. On my way back to the four wheeler, I found a good quality shed. I could get a couple of turkey totes out of that shed so I put it in my turkey vest.
I was still determined to find a gobbler. Time to go back to the cabin, have some lunch, and figure out what I was going to do in the afternoon.

Too hot for a mid day hunt
After a hearty lunch and a little rest, I was ready to go out again. I looked at the thermometer and it read 89 degrees. I have never had success in the afternoon when the temperature was close to 90 so I grabbed a fish pole and headed down to John's lake behind the cabin. I would spend a few hours fishing and then scout the opposite end of the property for my second day of hunting.
Although the lake was down about 3-4 feet, the fishing was still pretty good. I caught 13 bass and 7 blue gils. All went back into the lake to fight another day.

Looking for activity in the fire breaks

For my late afternoon scouting expedition, I would concentrate on the fire breaks.
I normally would have checked for scratching in the hardwoods but they were a burnt offering. I knew from past experience that turkeys do not go back into controlled burn areas for at least two weeks unless there has been a lot of rain.
I saw quite a few deer tracks and an occasional squirrel track. As I started down the hill towards the food plot where I had killed turkeys in the past, I saw the most promising sign of the entire afternoon, gobbler tracks. I followed those tracks further down the fire break and found the area I would hunt the following morning.

Setting up on the strut zone

If you have read many articles on turkey hunting you have no doubt heard about "The Strut Zone" This is the place where every turkey in the county came to show off for the hens. If you could find this zone, you would definitely have an opportunity to kill a turkey. In all my years of hunting this was only the second strut zone I had come across. I was excited. I found a suitable tree to lean against, about 22 yards from where I was going to place my two hen decoy set, and cleared the brush to form shooting lanes. I didn't want to clear too much, just enough to have an opening to kill a gobbler if he approached the decoys.
Now all I had to do was go back to the cabin and wait until the following morning.

Day 2. Would this be the day?

As with the previous day, I was up before the alarm. A  bowl of raisin bran was on the menu this morning. I wanted to make sure that I hunted on a full stomach in case it turned into an all day event.
I found my tree with out the use of a light and set the decoys on the 22 yard marker I placed the evening before. I was all set up and ready a full  hour before daylight. I told myself I would not make a sound until I heard the first turkey gobble from the roost. I didn't have to wait very long before one opened up on top of the hill about 500 yards away. For a fleeting moment, I thought about cutting the distance on that bird but I decided to wait. If he was the strutter, he would eventually come down to the strut zone.
Five minutes later another gobbler sounded off. I am glad I did'nt move on the first bird as the second bird was roosted no more than 50 yards away. I made a faint tree call and the gobbler answered. When he hammered back immediately, I could tell he knew exactly where I was. He gobbled on his own two more times before I called again. He answered the second time and I knew I would not need to call again.
Two minutes later I heard the sound of wing beats and he was on the ground. As I looked up the hill toward where I had heard the gobble I saw him. He had pitched down right in the fiire break. He spied the decoys and went into full strut, slowly moving towards the fake hens. That old gobbler put on quite a show for the next five minutes. Strutting, turning side to side, spinning around and  drumming. I could see the length of his beard and at that point I knew I was going to take him.
When he hit the 35 yard circle of death, I attempted to pull him out of strut with a series of loud clucks and cuts. He was not going to stick his neck up so I put his head in the middle of the cross hairs and sent a load of #5 heavy shot his way. The shot charge hit it's target and there lay my 2012 Georgia gobbler.
When I returned to the cabin, pictures were taken and measurements made. The turkey weighed 21 pounds, had a ten inch beard and 1 1/8 " spurs.