by Joe Martino
When it comes to hunting, sometimes it’s nice to be in the woods alone to enjoy the peace and solitude. But if tagging a bragging-sized longbeard is your goal, sometimes having a partner can play to your advantage. This may give you something to think about as you encounter tough toms this spring season. You may want to consider tag-team calling tactics for turkeys over the next few weeks as the spring season rolls on.
Mature gobblers are notorious for hanging up just outside of shooting range, often making a seemingly sure thing quickly fade into a memory. This is where having a buddy with you can really pay off. I learned this lesson many years ago while on a spring hunt in Illinois with a good friend. The hunt will show how a friend and I used tag-team calling tactics for turkeys that had been giving us fits.
Tag-Team Calling Tactics for Turkeys Done Right
On our first morning’s hunt, a pair of longbeards flew down from their roost with a hen already in tow. This is always a tough situation to be in. Our calling had the toms fired up and answering our calls, but when my buddy began to slowly work his way behind me and down the ridge in the opposite direction of the toms, they almost came unglued. His drift calling pulled the two lovesick birds away from the hen and nearly lead to the demise of one of them. Another few steps and the barrel of my gun would have had a chance to get warm.
It was not long after that before proof that two callers were better than one became quite clear once again.
Later that same morning, we located a trio of gobblers that were without hens. The birds were really fired up and hammering hard, so we had to set up right then and there. We didn’t even get a chance to set our decoys out.
Even though the birds were answering our calls fairly well, they just wouldn’t commit to them. One wary old gobbler finally poked his head over the crest of the hill in front of me, but tucked back down before I could get on him. Once he tucked back over the ridge and out of sight, we thought all was lost. But no sooner had the bird disappeared than he let out gobble. A minute or two later, two of the birds engaged in a battle for dominance which we could hear from our position.
My friend felt like we might get lucky and possibly pull the bird back in for one more look. It was worth a shot. No sooner had He slipped down the ridge a ways and made a series of yelps, than one of the toms popped his head over the ridge in the hopes of finding the hen that was slipping away. This time, however, my gun roared, and he got a face full of number 5’s.
Tips for Tag-Team Calling Tactics for Turkeys
1. Have the second caller position himself or herself fifty to eighty yards behind the hunter. This gives the gobbler the impression that the hen is further away. This way, if he hangs up eighty to one hundred yards out, he is in perfect range of the gunner.
2. If a tom becomes extremely wary, have the caller move off away from the tom, all the while calling and scratching the leaves around him. This will give the impression that the hens are not particularly interested in him. Sometimes this is all it takes to pull in that trophy longbeard those last critical yards.
3. Use multiple calls to present the impression of a flock of hens that are leaving him.
4. Take full advantage of having two callers in the field. Try calling back and forth to each other to paint a picture in that toms mind. He won’t want to be left out of the action.
Sure, most of the time hunting solo is all that it takes to harvest a big gobbler, but on some cantankerous toms, adding a second caller to your bag of tricks can sometimes make the difference between being successful or having a close encounter. Give it a try this spring and season if tag-teaming for tough toms won’t pay off big.