Yesterday, while out scouting at daybreak, I heard a gobble in the nearby woods. Then another. That’s right. Autumn turkeys gobble; even late-summer birds. On the roost and on the ground. I know, some of you have heard differently. Talk is cheap. Experience pays dividends. If they’re fall jakes, they sometimes gobble after making a kee-kee-run, tagging it right on the end of that call. I’ve scattered autumn longbeards too only to have each one gobble hard on their return to the flush site. I defy anyone to tell me that’s not just as exciting as a spring hunt.
These vocalizations are obviously made as male turkeys try to locate each other. Despite what you might have heard from the guy who says they don’t gobble in fall, you need to get out there and hear it for yourself.
True enough, hearing that gobble isn’t as reliable as it is in spring. Spring gobblers call to draw hens to their roosted or ground-standing position. Fall gobblers likely do it to indicate their location too, but to male turkeys, since longbeard groups hang together then. Jake gangs sometimes form in late autumn and early winter as they contest family flock stability. Some territorial dominance is also likely at play when male turkeys gobble in fall.
As your calling goes, a little gobbling goes a long way. Use it sparingly when you have a group of fall longbeards roosted in earshot before they fly-down. Maybe run that gobble tube (see my photo of some Quaker Boy options, pictured here) once or twice when they’re on the ground in conjunction with fighting purrs. Buddy hunters can double up on vocalizations this way, but again, don’t overdo it. This calling strategy shouldn’t be a musical jam session but a perfectly choreographed and well-timed vocalization: brief in duration and hopefully effective.
Do you Strut Zoners ever use gobble calls to lure in fall turkeys? Spring? Hearing any gobbling in your local turkey woods these days?