Be Nice to the Hen

A common topic in spring gobbler hunting articles is how we can call so as to make the boss hen “mad.” This supposedly results in her charging toward our position, a boss gobbler in tow. But very few stories deal with a counter tactic – how to be “nice” to the hen, luring her in with soft sounds… hopefully with her suitors. Indeed, Winchester, Virginia’s Jim Clay, who operates Perfection Turkey Calls, believes the latter is the superior approach.

“Acting like a submissive hen toward an aggressive hen or a hen in general definitely has its advantages,” Clay said. “Over a period of time, you might call to 15 different hens and maybe only one of them will have a boss hen-type personality. And she could just as easily walk away from you, taking the gobbler with her, than toward you.

“But ever hen knows the fear of being lost, and hens do like to be in the company of other females. That’s why making submissive sounds is almost always a better strategy than making challenging ones.”

Clay believes that simple yelps and clucks (not overly loud but not too soft either) should be the default option most days afield. Throw in a purr every now and then; plus add a kee-kee or two as well. Additionally, the outdoorsman often employs two calls at once. Perhaps, for example, using a diaphragm to simulate a kee-kee or stroking a pot and peg to create yelps or clucks.

Situations for Subdued Hen Sounds

The Virginian feels that the mid-morning period is the prime time to utter friendly hen chatter. It’s natural then for some hens to go off to lay eggs, and other females, suddenly left alone, to instinctively desire the safety of being with a flock. Setting up at strutting zones, dusting bowls, food plots, and various openings is sound strategy.

Last tips on this subject?

“Always assume that the hen that answers your calls has a gobbler with her,” Clay said. “And also assume that no matter how much racket the responding hen makes, the gobbler is going to come in with her silent. That way, you’ll be ready to shoot when the two of them come into view.

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