Excitement builds every year at this time for me and my hunting buddies as we are preparing for turkey season ! We drive around scouting the local turkey population and see what the birds are doing in the local agricultural fields and cow pastures. I’ve already chosen a new shell I’m gonna try and have my shotgun patternd . The blind is up and getting some pics nearby with a game camera even though most of my hunting is done with natural setups on the ground. Not much more to do until legal light on opening day.
With nothing else left to do but wait, I think about the upcoming season and seasons past .It’s usually about now that I think about the old timers like my grandpa who obviously didn’t have all the modern gear, but still managed to get it done! They hunted a spring and fall season where most states only have the spring season now . Most of these guys just simply sat down in the woods with their shotgun and an old wing bone or Jordan and called in birds ! What’s a wing bone and Jordan you say?
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Tools of yesterday and today
The old school guys didn’t have the luxury of running to the closest big box store and buying the latest, greatest turkey call that they saw on the outdoor channel . Why? Well because they didn’t have the big box stores or the hunting channel. Their best ally was experience and word of mouth. Traditions handed down from generation to generation.
One of the earliest hand made turkey calls was the Wing Bone call. Made of an actually turkey wing bone. Other types of calls then and now include:
- Box calls
- Friction calls
- Push-Pull calls
- Tube calls
- Diaphram calls
- Locator calls
- The above mentioned Wingbone
- Jordan call
Here’s a good deal at Amazon on an old school Quaker Boy Original Hog Trough Turkey Call $36.10
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The wingbone and the Jordan variation are my favorite !
Today the turkey calls available from mega giants in the industry are varying and man . These various calls are used for different purposes and different sounds . For example a locator call may be an owl hoot or crow call to try to entice a dawn gobble. A box call or chalk call is used to both mimic hen sounds as well as a pretty convincing gobble if done right..
I have a friend named Matt Huntley who is part of a group of old school turkey hunters I like to refer to as “Turkey Whisrperers”. Matt’s book Old School In A Modern Age: Turkey Hunting Tales from the Central Carolinas is a must read with tactics and stories about his and his familiy turkey hunting adventures. I love that kind of stuff. And I am the lucky owner of a wing bone and Jordan that was hand made by Mr. Huntley ! .
The love of the hunt
In the early years turkey hunting was done much different than what we see and do today. And that fact can’t be overstated ! In fact long before the English settlers took to the woods and waterways of what would one day be America, the Native Americans were doing just fine with thier “primitive styles”. And the stakes were much higher than photo ops and cashing in a tag. They used the wild turkey as part of survival, including clothing and ceremonial dress. In the early 1900s the wild turkey was almost extinct in North America due to habitat destruction and over hunting with no rules and regulations. The majestic bird has made a jaw dropping comeback! And the bird that was close to becoming the national bird is thriving all over the U.S. except for Alaska.
The great populations of birds we enjoy now is directly the effort of groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation and the implementation of game laws that are in place to secure the species and it’s future. I for one am thankful for that because the love of the hunt for me isn’t the harvesting part. It’s the calling part ! Like an old timer buddy said “When that bird comes in unseen and all of a sudden blows up 20 yards from you with that gobble, it’s about as exciting as it gets “. Yes indeed ! If that scenario doesn’t excite you, you may need to pick another outdoor adventure!
Calling a bird from far off to right in front of you is a blast that you can’t understand till you’ve done it ! There are many who do it better than me, but I’ll guarantee that no one enjoys it more !
The gear craze
From the early days of smooth bore muskets and bow and arrow the sport has thrived and the gear manufacturers are thriving with it ! Wen I was a kid, my old New England single shot 12 gauge that my grandpa got for $49 at Western Auto was the turkey killing machine of choice around my neck of the woods. Wind forward 40 years and now you can’t kill a turkey unless you are using the latest $2000 shotgun and shells that are engineered to get re done at the meek price of $5.00 each ! .I must admit that I too have gotten a little crazy with gear as well. I use the 3.5 inch magnum 12 gauge that is so popular now with turkey hunters. I have recently gotten a H.E.C.S. suit as a gift and have been completely surprised by early results, because to be honest I saw it as another hoax when I got it and kind of laughed inside. That sucker is about to make me a believer!
My call collection consists of my wing bone and Jordan as well as an old school slate call and an owl hoot . The calls kind of make me nuts ! I went to a couple of turkey calling contests years ago and no one at the contest sounded like anything Ive ever heard from a turkey ! LOL ! But I keep trying some different stuff, but always go back to the tried and true simple calls I’ve used forever !
The Tools of the trade
Turkey hunting is a sport where there is likely the most parity between hunters where gear is concerned. The tool bag can be as simple or complex as you want. The biggest differences are that some folks like to hunt blinds , and some like the mobility and challenge of sitting on the ground or stalking. Some like using decoys while some prefer to test thier superior calling skills with no aids. Mine aren’t very superior, so I use decoys much of the time. Some bow hunt, but the vast majority use their shotgun to get the job done.
Namaes like Remington, Mossberg and Winchester have been joined in an ultra competitive market by names like Benelli and Beretta in the shotgun world that are represented in the turkey woods . In my opinion the only differences are the actions and pattern. Get a shotgun that patterns well and you like the action, and that is the perfect gun for long beards !
My personal favorite is my Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag . That old shotgun has brought many birds, and deer out of the woods and at 25 years old still performs flawlessly !
This Turkey season is a little different
My father in law who is one of my best hunting and fishing partners is in the hospital awaiting a triple bypass heart surgery and pretty much out for this years hunt . I’m just concerned that he comes through this surgery ok . There are more seasons ahead\, good lord willing ! I’ll get in the woods some early and late but mid season is gonna be busy as heck with work .
Just remember the hunt and hunts past . Those we hunted with that are no longer with us and the ones that we have now and will be joining is in the future Above all enjoy the hunt !
It will be gone before you know it
Thee 2018 Turkey season will come and go so fast that it will be gone as soon as it starts ! Just the same way deer season does every year ! Try to make a new memory this year ! Take your old school gear or new school gear . Take the son, daughter or grand kids and I know it will be great memories of the spring turkey woods !
If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them in the comments below. Have a great day, and thanks for reading !
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