It’s no secret Ray Eye, legendary turkey hunter and champion caller, knows how to bag a bird. He has over 50 years of turkey hunting experience and has learned to hunt turkeys in 43 states. What’s the method to his madness? Calling. Eye debunks the calling myth that has hunters across the United States going mute in the turkey woods.
America’s Myth: Birds become call-shy due to overcalling
“Turkeys don’t become shy because they hear a natural sound in the woods,” said Eye. “Overcalling is a turkey hunter’s excuse. When they don’t find success, they blame it on calling too much.”
Eye explains that a hunter’s mind is their worst enemy. Each person has their own opinion based off of their personal experiences. When a hunter calls to a gobbler and the bird doesn’t come in, camo-covered men and women believe it was because they hit their striker one too many times, when in reality the tom probably already had hens around him.
“If a gobbler has hens near him, he won’t leave them to come to you. That’s a common mistake hunters make,” said Eye. “Spring is mating season and hen calls are natural, but that’s only a two week window in the year.”
Turkeys will tell you how to hunt them. Hunters need to adjust to the time of the year, and then adjust their calling to fit that.
“In a scenario like that, hunters aren’t calling too much, they are using the wrong call. I’d try to challenge the longbeard by using a gobbler call,” said Eye.
Calling pressure isn’t the result of broken birds, hunting pressure is. In a five year research project on 2,500 acres in Missouri, Eye documented turkey’s response from calling versus human activity.
The area was closed off to people pressure and no one was allowed in. Each season outdoor writers were invited to the property and allowed to call to turkeys at will, as long as they didn’t spook or bump the birds.
The hunters called to the birds every day from gates and roads. At the end of the season, media hunts would result in a one hundred percent kill success rate. They found out calling had absolutely no negative effect on the turkeys.
“Its people pressure, not calling pressure that shuts turkeys down,” said Eye. “Turkeys communicate all year round. It’s normal for them to hear calls and calling is what makes turkey hunting fun and exciting. Don’t remove that element from the hunt, keep calling and just have fun.”