Two questions…two answers…two minutes to get to the point. Each Tuesday, we plan on asking the best turkey hunters in the country for their answers to some of turkey hunting’s toughest questions.
This week, the Strut Zone welcomes Chris Kirby, President of Quaker Boy Game Calls and one of only two people to accomplish a career grand slam on the turkey calling stage.
STRUT ZONE: Is there such a thing as an “uncallable” turkey?
CHRIS KIRBY: Yes, one that just took a load of 6s to his brain. All kidding aside, there is no such thing as an uncallable turkey. There is however, such thing as an uncallable turkey on a particular day. The seasons are generally 25 to 30 days long. I believe that eventually, on one of the days, every gobbler is callable. A gobbler that hosts 1 to 6 hens at daybreak, is the least callable turkey. Unless you take a wicked aggressive approach of busting the flock up before daybreak, then calling them back together the first hour or so. By changing the dynamics of the situation—getting the hens away from a gobbler—you have given yourself a fighting chance. He is uncallable, if his day goes by with his harem.
On the other hand, over the course of the season, that gobbler will service these hens and they will leave him. He will have 6 then 4 then 1 and then the magical morning arrives when he has no hens. At this point, he has shifted from uncallable, to extremely callable.
Let’s not forget all the variables in this determination: Gobblers don’t respond well at all in a spring snow storm; gobblers don’t like high winds; we are never positive that there was not another hunter that called this turkey in and shot and missed him the day before (that will prevent him from coming into the call as well); the gobbler may have just encountered a coyote that scared the daylights out of him etc. All these reasons can make a gobbler uncallable for a period of time.
Is there a gobbler that is uncallable for the entire season? Absolutely not.
STRUT ZONE: How do I get started in competitive calling?
CHRIS KIRBY: Competition calling is awesome and getting started is quite simple. Having success in the competitive arena is different question. To get started, contact your local NWTF chapter and attend the local or state chapter event hosting a contest.
Step 1: Watch and learn. Sit through the entire contest.
Step 2: Listen to sound, rhythm, cadence and overall presentation of each sound by each caller. Understand that no two turkeys sound exactly the same, and neither do two callers. You will hear many variations and all are good. The panel of judges, decide who is best that day.
Step 3: Evaluate, who won and why? Was it sound, cadence, rhythm or presentation? In most cases it will be a combination of all.
Step 4: Listen to live turkeys in the wild. Live turkey recordings will give you the basis for the sounds you are trying to replicate.
Step 5: Develop your sound, cadence, rhythm and presentation based on what you’ve learned and most importantly what you believe to be better.
Step 6: Practice, practice, practice—at least 20 minutes a day—in an effort to master your sound and presentation.. Don’t just practice sounds, practice routines. Tape yourself and grade yourself. Which rhythm, cadence and presentation sound best to you? Master your choice, flawlessly. Mentally prepare yourself for that time on stage, when the MC says “give us your best rendition of the cutting of an excited hen”.
Whether you like the World Champ, Checkmate, Double Slash or Old Boss Hen-style cutt doesn’t matter. You have to run the cutt and call you are most comfortable with. Get several samples of each and start to develop your favorite, then master it.
Competitive turkey calling is a ton of fun. We have all lost more than we have won. It is the challenge of sounding perfect to the judges ears that we love when calling. Embrace the challenge and run with it.
One thing for certain, if you take the time to prepare for competition calling, your calling in the woods will improve 10 fold!