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Thursday, July 11, 2024
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Calling all Toms!

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The turkey hunters in south Florida have been in the woods busting beaks and filling skillets for a couple of weeks now.   I’m getting reports rolling in from many of my friends telling me that the breeding season is in full swing down that way with some mighty impressive trophies.  Here, in our hunting zone, which is anywhere north of State Road 70, the birds are just beginning to fire up and that means big things are in store for our season opener.

The woods have been alive with the gobblers herding their flocks and I’m excited.  The 2019 season is kicking off this weekend with the two day youth season, which is a great gift to the kids from our Florida Wildlife Commission, to allow them to take to the woods for their own chance at calling in a gobbler for their family’s table, but without having to do so in competition with the adults.  Happily, I get to take advantage of this weekend, sort of a dress rehearsal for me, by guiding a youth to his first tom.

I was asked by a member of the 10can hunting team, who is organizing youth hunting opportunities on behalf of the FWC a few weeks back for help getting one of their participants a gobbler.  I was very happy to assist and it works out well that the property they are hunting, happens to be one that I’m fairly intimate with and have taken some impressive old longbeards from in the past.  I’ll give an update next week to let you know how my assigned youth did!

Early season is an exciting time as the birds are fired up and I use loud exciting calls to get a gobbler’s attention.  I make my own callers and have a new box call I just finished sanding and tuning that is sounding perfect. I’ll be using it in the mornings as the turkeys fly down to try to bring in a big boss tom right off of the limb.  If he doesn’t come on the run and gets henned-up with a harem it’ll be a few hours before he’s bred the receptive ones and breaks away in search of one last piece of tailfeather. These late morning birds are the most vulnerable.  That’s when I’m trading up my box call for a pot and glass call made by Spring King calls.

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I was contacted a while back and asked to use one of their calls to offer some feedback and I gave them a two thumbs up.  It’s got a soft and subtle yelp which is an all-natural sound you won’t find on the shelves in one of the mass-market chain stores.  So, for late morning gobblers, desperate for a hen, I’m going to let that King sing. I’m pretty well confident, I’m going to have a great time in the woods with this call.

If you haven’t tried calling turkeys, there are only three vocalizations you need to master on your call to hunt them with success.  Yelps, clucks and purrs. Yelps strung together five or seven at a time in rhythm to mimic a hen searching for a mate. Clucks are simply a casual call as if to say, “Hey, I’m over here,” and purrs are the sound of content and feeding turkeys which when that big tom is hung up out of range, looking for the hen he thought was calling to him.  Soft feeding purrs will sometimes draw him nearer to see if he can find that receptive hen while she is searching for her lunch.

Find digital recordings of these, as well as a full range of turkey vocalizations at the National Wild Turkey Federation website, www.NWTF.org, to listen and practice mimicking on your own callers.  As always, I’d love to hear about your own outdoor adventures and maybe see a photo or two of your successes at [email protected].  God bless and good hunting!

Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein has over 35 years experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist working with neurologically impaired adults. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of South Florida in Speech Pathology.
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