A diaphragm call in the mouth of a skilled caller is turkey hunting's most lethal tool. It perfectly mimics the turkey vocabulary with no more motion than expanding lungs and a bobbing Adam's apple.
|If you want to run-and-gun, find a nearby tree trunk to mask any hand call movement.|
Yet for some hunters, a mouth call simply doesn't work. The mouth isn't shaped compatibly. The gag reflex is insurmountable. There isn't time to practice.
Other calling methods produce sounds as accurate and alluring as a mouth call, but with one universal drawback: they require motion to produce sounds. And most require moving hands to the gun or bow when the bird's within killing range.
If you're restricted to hand-operated calls, a well-conceived game plan — defensive, offensive and special skills — will boost your hunting success.
Defense in the turkey woods is hiding yourself and your movement. Head to toe camouflage that best matches the surroundings is a given. For the hunter restricted to hand calls, as well as those who are generally fidgety, ground blinds are a Godsend. Nothing hides movement better, but these blinds are not conducive to exciting run-and-gun hunting.
Focus on hiding hand movement. Blinds like umbrellas can instantly deploy at any location. Sitting comfortably in an elevated turkey chair, you can operate calls behind your legs to mask the movement. If there's a downed tree trunk nearby, go prone and call from behind the natural gun rest.
Some calls require more movement than others. Push-button styles require only one finger to operate, and some can be mounted to your gun allowing you to shoot without additional movement. Push button calls limit vocabulary and volume, so makers seek to adapt other styles for one hand use. The Primos Super FREAK Box Call includes a system for mounting on the thigh for one-handed operation.
|Motion decoys can make an incoming turkey focus on something other than your movement.|
Motion decoys focus incoming birds' attention away from your movements in calling and preparing to shoot. There are decoys which move in the breeze, are hand operated, or are motorized with remote control like the RedHead Reality Series Remote Strutter. Be certain to check which is legal in your area.
Another offensive strategy is to prepare to shoot at longer ranges. There's an amazing difference in a turkey's sensitivity beyond 50 yards and from 50 yards in. Choose a load like the new Winchester Long Beard XR, and tune it carefully with chokes and sights or scope to extend deadly range to 60 yards-plus.
Skilled mouth callers are adept at "throwing" sound like a ventriloquist. This is a big advantage because approaching birds focus on the perceived source rather than the caller. It's not easily done with other types of calls, but can be learned. Any hand call with a tube that directs the sound, like M.A.D. Calls R.I.P Yelper helps create this diversion.
Finally, hunting experience is the best teacher. Learn to read the birds and the surroundings to anticipate when a strutting tom's fan will block its vision and when breeze will move the leaves around you so you can move.