At the 43rd annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, calling champion and Avian-X spokesperson Matt Morrett gave his favorite tips and tricks for calling turkeys and using turkey decoys in the spring during the “Turkey Decoy and Calling Tactics” seminar.
Morrett talked about effective strategies for using decoys, as well as advice on how to up your calling game. He also gave a nugget of wisdom on safety in the woods.
- Morrett explained a hunter should be mindful of turkey body language when choosing a decoy to use. “Any kind of aggression [your decoy] shows, there’s a chance he could run a gobbler off,” Morrett said. “That’s why we try to go with a gobbler that doesn’t have as much posture… When a turkey is relaxed, his wings are going to be fluffed, and that’s what we try to incorporate [at Avian-X].”
- In addition, he stressed a hunter should always carry a jake decoy in their vest. “To me, if I had the choice to use one decoy, bar none, it would be a jake decoy,” Morrett said. Morrett said after calling like a hen for a while, wait for the tom to appear in your field of vision. “When he shows up, he knows that hen should be there,” he said. “He sees this guy over there with one of his girlfriends that he’s committed [to], 9.9 times out of 10, they’re coming in to jakes. You’re messing with that pecking order.”
- Morrett emphasized any and all calling-skill levels are acceptable when getting into the woods. However, he advised to keep your skill level in mind when selecting a call. “Even a push call works,” he said.
- To get better at your calling, Morrett suggests recording your calling on your phone and then playing it back with your phone about 30 yards away from you. This will replicate what a gobbler hears when you are out in the woods and give you ideas on how to improve. He also said for every caller to be mindful of nervous, excited calling on a box or slate call, as louder hen calling can intimidate a gobbler and make him run the other way.
- The best place to practice a mouth or diaphragm call to minimize annoying others, said Morrett, is in a car or truck.
- He added hunters often over-use owl and crow calls. “You don’t use owl or crow calls to get a turkey to gobble,” he said. “You use them to know where a gobbler is.”
- Morrett also encouraged his audience to get in the true mindset of a hen when calling. He suggested they give their hen “selective hearing” when responding to a gobbler and play hard-to-get. “If he gobbles every time you tree call, you can put your call down,” Morrett said. “Wait until he hits the ground until you call again.”
- He also stressed it is always better to “start a conversation off soft” when talking to a gobbler. Calling too strongly at first will make the gobbler want to wait for her to come to him. He suggested hunters start with a simple yelp and wait for a response. If they hear nothing after a while, he suggests getting the gobbler more excited with some cutting. Hunters can produce a cutting sound by putting a little more inflection and speed on a standard yelp.
- To prepare to call as a jake, Morrett said the caller should start in the middle of a slate call to make slower, deeper-toned yelps. Because jakes are inferior to toms in the flock pecking order, gobbling or yelping like a tom will get them in serious trouble. That, Morrett said, is why they do not do it.
Matt Morrett also noted when in the woods, tick repellant is very important.
“I don’t care who is in here,” Morrett said. “If you’re not spraying for ticks, you’re going to be sorry someday. Speaking as someone who battles Lyme Disease, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
Overall, Matt Morrett stressed knowledge, patience, skill and practice as keys to better decoy use and calling tactics.
— Heiler Meek