Montana is a sleeper state for spring turkey hunting. The winter food and habitat base is marginal but….This has been a mild winter! It’s time to get out your gear and calls for the April Montana Turkey Time!
“Turkey Talkin” is the best and most exciting way to hunt spring Gobblers. If you are a good turkey hunter and caller then you will become a better elk hunter as well. To me Bull elk are just 800 Lb. turkeys. The main difference, besides size, is that the eyesight of turkeys is exceptional. Elk have an incredible sense of smell. I always teach that “elk will hear you 3 times, see you twice and smell you once”. With turkeys, they will “see you once, hear you twice but smell you all day”.
Calling takes practice and practice makes perfect. Now is the time to get Gobbler Ready. Your goal is to get the gobbler within 35 yards for a clean kill. Aim for the head. The head is incredibly nasty looking anyway. As beautiful as a turkey is, God took a nap when he made the head. It reminds me of Grandma’s moles with hair coming out of them.
There are a lot of calls on the market. You need to learn how to use a diaphragm call. Most hunters say it tickles and they can’t get used to it. Elk diaphragm calls are so similar to turkey calls that learning one teaches you how to use the other. Using your mouth call eliminates any body movement when you need to stop the gobbler or bull at close range.
I prefer the Bugling Bull Game Call “Turkey Tone Top Diaphragms”. www.buglingbull.com. They sell a Grand Slam 4-Pack that provides you with a selection of calls. Turkeys make sounds that range from soft purrs to raspy gobbles. The “Tone Top” feature was designed by Rocky Jacobsen, Bugling Bull Game Calls founder and award winning caller. The “Tone Top” creates the perfect space at the roof of your mouth for a perfect sound.
When you try to learn how to use the diaphragm call, get some videos that have instructional tips. Bugling Bull Game Calls sells one that shows Rocky demonstrating all of their products. He will teach you to first learn how to “Growl” when using this call. Once you get the feel for it, you will ease up on the air and start to mimic the turkey purrs, cackles, clucks and gobbles.
I rarely call a gobbler in with my gobble call. This is also true when Bugling Bull elk. I use the Gobble or Bugle to locate the critter. Once you know they are around, come up with a plan, get close, camouflaged and then make the sounds of the hen or cow.
The best time to practice your calling is in the truck when going to work. This way, you won’t drive anyone else crazy. Using the diaphragm call keeps your hands on the wheel! Get a CD of turkey sounds that you can mimic. I practice this way before teaching a calling seminar or going hunting. Don’t practice around the campfire!
Other calls to consider are wooden Box calls and Scratch or Friction calls. These also take some practice and are less functional on wet days. Hand movement is also an issue. It takes 2 hands to safely manage your shotgun or bow.
Decoys can be effective too but be careful. I had a “novice” turkey hunter shoot my hen decoy 3 times during the spring hunt. I was lucky but there are way too many shooting accidents during turkey season. No critter is worth being shot over. Learn to control your excitement and know your target before you shoot.
Turkey hunting is great for kids. It is a perfect opportunity to teach safe hunting and spring camping is fun. My son Kyle and I have had great success when chasing spring Merriam gobblers in SE Montana. We also find a ton of “antler sheds”. Spring turkey hunting is a great way to shake off the winter blahs.