Window Dressing

Occasionally, calling in a gobbler during the spring is a piece of cake. You set up at a logical location, fire him up with a few hen yelps and wait for him to show up. At such times, you think you have this game figured out. Ah, but not so fast.

Things are not always that simple. For various reasons, said gobbler might refuse to play. Even if he seems interested at first, he might hold his ground and torment you with his indecision. It’s because of the uncertainty inherent in most calling scenarios that hunters constantly search for a magic sound that will tip the scales in their favor. These sounds can be turkey calls you don’t ordinarily rely on or sounds turkeys make that aren’t part of their vocabulary.

I consider any added calls, or other things we resort to when we desperately try to seduce a recalcitrant gobbler, to be window dressing. To me, such calls include subtle clucks, purrs and low-volume yelps, all of which are meant to convince a tom that you’re a relaxed hen going about her business. Ditto for call-less sounds, such as scratching in leaves and slapping your pant leg with your hat to recreate the burst of flapping a hen does when she stretches her wings and shakes her feathers into place.

The question is: Does any of this really work? The truthful answer is maybe. I think window dressing helps, provided the gobbler you’re working can hear it. For that reason, I believe it’s best to use these tactics when it’s not stormy and there’s no other sustained background noise.       

Here’s an example of window dressing sounds at work. During a bright April morning a couple of years ago, I got a tom excited with a basic string of yelps. After setting up, I fired off a few more yelps, and the bird started coming my way only to hang up out of sight on the far side of a brushy draw. He continued to gobble like crazy but refused to come closer.

Going to him wasn’t an option, so I decided to up the ante. By using a box call and a diaphragm simultaneously, I became two hens instead of one. Instead of yelping loudly, I clucked and purred with the diaphragm and followed that with a few soft yelps from the box.

Then, to add realism, I scratched in the dry leaves with my hand. Backing away a few yards, I repeated the procedure, hoping the thought of the hens leaving was more than the gobbler could stand. Evidently, it was. He crossed the draw and appeared 20 yards away, at which time his day was ruined and mine was made.

Eddie Salter of Evergreen, Alabama, host of Flextone Game Calls’ “Turkey Man” television show, said, “I’ve been involved in this turkey hunting business practically forever, and I’ve used every trick in the book. I’m positive that the things you call window dressing are useful additions in some calling situations. For that reason, they should be part of every turkey hunter’s bag of tricks. They are certainly included in mine.”

That said, I rest my case.

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