Turkey Hunting Tips From A Calling Expert
Scott Wilhelm has more state calling championships than he has fingers and has won the NWTF Friction Calling National Championship and several NWTF National Gobbling Championships. Thanks to his calling mastery he has even been featured on David Letterman on more than one occasion. Scott has bagged turkeys in over a dozen states and is just an Osceola away from a grand slam. Wilhelm recently took some time to visit with foremosthunting.com’s Chris Larsen and shared some great tips for solving common turkey hunting scenarios.
Hunters who do there homework when it comes to scouting can usually get to a field with turkeys in it at some point during the season. Getting birds to close the distance to within bow or shotgun range can be tough. Wilhelm says this is where he pulls out his bag of tricks. “Two things I’ve done that are unorthodox or against the norm would be a fighting purr to create a little urgency or I’ll gobble at him with the new style of calls that are made for gobbling… that’s something they don’t hear a lot.”
One of the biggest obstacles turkey hunters run into is henned up gobblers. It seems like no matter what you do, a gobbler won’t leave a group of hens. Again, Wilhelm starts working his magic. “I’ll do a kee-kee-run, the sound of a young, lost bird… A kee-kee-run can trigger a maternal instinct in a hen sometimes even though there’s no young turkeys in the spring. She hears that sound of a lost young one whether it’s hers or another, she will come in and investigate. Hopefully, she brings a big old gobbler right behind.”
Hunters will often head for the truck when rain drops begin to fall. Wilhelm says that can be a big mistake. He heads for the open fields when it’s raining. “In the woods when the rain drops are coming down on the leaves and timber it’s harder for them to hear predators coming. My theory has always been they want to go out in the open where they can use their eyes… If it’s really windy sometimes they will be down in the bottoms.”
Wilhelm is an accomplished hunter and skilled at all aspects of chasing turkeys. But, calling is his big advantage over the average turkey hunter. Sometimes turkeys just aren’t in the mood to talk. On these days, Scott will treat every bird individually. “I always try to take the temperature of any bird. I’ll call a little bit. If a bird gobbles back at me three times, you know, a really aggressive bird, I’ll call more to him. If it’s a day where the gobbling response is a lot fewer and farther between, I’ll try to back off. But I’ll set up and blind call where I think is a probable area, where I’ve seen strut marks or I think it’s just a good opening… I’ll throw some yelps out there, maybe a cluck here and there, and maybe a couple gobbles. Make it sound like there are a few birds that maybe are a little lively.”
Roosting turkeys is a common technique. Hunters watch turkeys fly up in the trees in the evening and then set up on the exact spot the following morning. It’s an effective strategy but not fool proof. Sometimes birds can be unresponsive and walk right out of a field without giving you a shot opportunity. When this occurs, Wilhelm gets on his feet. “I’ll try to stay on them. Getting around them would be ideal, if the terrain allows it… If I can stick with those birds, it’s inevitable. If they’re henned up they are going to stick with those hens for a chance to breed those hens. But she’s going to run off and nest somewhere. If you can get that gobbler when that hen leaves, it’s golden then. It’s usually a pretty responsive bird. It only has one thing on it’s mind in the spring time and that’s love.”
To listen to more from Scott Wilhelm, press play at the top of the page.