Wyoming Merriams

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Your granddaddy may have told you the best way to kill a turkey is to sit still and call “sparingly.” Just a few clucks on occasion. Maybe a yelp if he’s gobbling good. But that’s it. You don’t want to overcall a turkey. And you certainly want to avoid that fancy “contest calling crap.”

To the old man’s credit, a prime location and good woodsmanship will always be the two most important elements of a successful turkey hunt. Given those elements, you can kill gobblers without ever making a call. But also given those elements, a skilled, aggressive caller will consistently kill more turkeys than a conservative caller. Wild turkeys are noisy creatures when they get excited—and getting them excited is your best chance of luring them into range.

Provided you’re ready to go in a good setup, there are only a few times when you shouldn’t call to a gobbling turkey. One is when he’s still on the limb early in the morning, since too much calling usually keeps him in the tree longer than he needs to be. Another is when the tom is hung up out of range for more than 20 minutes. When that happens, the silent treatment can make him anxious enough to move. Finally, dial it back as a gobbler commits into gun range. At that point, you just don’t him pinpointing and seeing you.

This episode of The 15-Yard Files perfectly demonstrates effective aggressive calling on a group of randy Merriams gobblers in Wyoming. As is often the case on a Merriams hunt, these birds are answering from a long ways out. Aggressive—but perfectly natural—calling brings them in on a run. It’s a great hunt with a valuable lesson attached. Enjoy.