Spring in Arizona is a special time for a small fraternity of hunters who enjoy the challenge of calling in a bearded turkey.
Being in the woods at first light and hearing the stillness broken by the unmistakable gobble of a male turkey creates a true adrenaline rush for a turkey hunter.
Outwitting that bird into camera or shotgun range can be accomplished by using many different calls. Whether you are a novice with little or no experience or a self-proclaimed "expert," there are three popular calls that are effective and, with a little practice, can get a turkey into shooting range. The box call, post and slate, or mouth diaphragm are likely tools that will accompany the most seasoned turkey hunters into the woods opening weekend of the spring hunts, along the Mogollon Rim.
If you are a little short on experience or information, there are numerous videos or DVDs that will give you hints on what to do or not do in pursuit of your springtime gobbler. Not only are they informative, but the excitement of being on a turkey hunt in your living room with a professional will add to your future hunt.
I believe there are three common characteristics that can improve your chances of having a meaningful spring hunt. These three common factors are preseason scouting, being well camouflaged and practice on the calls you plan to use in your hunt.
By paying attention to these details, you may greatly increase your odds of seeing that tom turkey strutting his stuff within that 40-yard perimeter.
Knowing where the birds are located in your hunting unit may be the most important point.
This entails a few before-dawn drives into the area and some exploration to learn some of the back roads. Stopping at numerous spots to use a crow call or owl hoot will often set off a tom turkey to gobble from his roost tree and break the morning silence.
In certain cases, I have gotten them to gobble by honking a horn or slamming a car door. A few early morning trips to the woods are certainly worth the effort in improving your chances of tagging "ole longbeard."
Turkeys spend much of their day on the ground, which makes them very vulnerable to predators. So, they are always on guard for any movements. Consequently, it is essential for the hunter to be well camouflaged and motionless when the calling begins. Get as comfortable as possible with your back to a tree and have a wide, clear field of vision in front of you. A turkey's vision is very acute and if they detect your movement, the warning alarm of their "putt" may quickly end the hunt for that particular bird.
The final challenge is the actual calling of the tom, which can be done with a variety of calls. Again, the key point is to practice by listening to tapes or actually hearing turkeys in the woods.
I remember my first successful calling experience with a mouth diaphragm.
After many gagging attempts at home with that call in my mouth and my wife, Kathy, putting up with the continuous "yelps" or "kee kee" runs, I was ready for the woods. With longtime friend, Steve Sams, we were ready at dawn when that tom gobbled.
I started to call and out of my mouth came the worst possible turkey talk I had ever heard. Much to my surprise, two longbearded toms came into shotgun range.
The bottom line is that you don't have to be an expert, but a little practice and doing your homework can give you a bird's eye view of "ole longbeard" strutting his stuff.
This weekend, enjoy the outdoors, God's creation.