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Ray with a Gobbler

Do you have a question about hunting that you’d like to ask Ray? Send an email to ray@rayeye.com.

Ray will personally answer each message, and post his response on this site.

Q. When it’s the middle of the day and the turkeys don’t seem to gobble what are your tactics to find them?
A. Set-up in an area that you have scouted before and heard turkeys gobbling earlier in the year. Start calling soft at first then get more aggressive. Sit still, look and listen 45 minutes to an hour, if a turkey doesn’t respond or approach your set-up, move quietly 200 – 300 yards depending upon the terrain. Before you leave a set-up to move to a new location, try a locating call, such as a crow call or an owl call. Keep repeating this process until you’ve covered your entire hunting area. Always remember, to listen carefully and sit still in case the gobbler approaches silently.
Q. What do you think about using decoys?
A. They work well in field edges and clearing where they are easily seen by turkeys. Hen decoys work best when most of the hens are nesting and gobblers are looking for company.
Q. What five states have the highest turkey populations.
A. Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Missouri.
Q. What do judges look for in turkey calling competitions.
A. In turkey calling competitions, judges look for realism, consistency and aggressiveness. Unlike hunting, when your in a competition you can not afford to make a slip or mistake with your calling. In addition, each judge has their personal opinion on how a required call should be reproduced. This is why there are seven judges. When they tally all of the judges scores, the highest score and the lowest score are thrown out and the middle scores from the judges are then added together. After years of listening to wild turkeys, I personally listen very carefully to each required call, i.e., yelp, cackle, kee-kee run ect., for realism, rhythm, and presentation. Callers that do not sound like real wild turkeys do not score well with me. To me, the real judge is the wild turkey gobbler on opening day.
Q. I would like to know how to score a turkey.
A. The best reference concerning scoring a wild turkey is available from the National Wild Turkey Federation. www.nwtf.com/hunting/records.html
Q. I’m having trouble getting a good soft cluck out of my
mouth call. I can make a good yelp but the cluck is giving
me problems. I also can’t seem to get the call to roll over at
low air pressure. Am I putting to much pressure with the
A. It’s difficult to exactly diagnose the trouble that you are having, but here’s some suggestions. Some types of mouth calls are easier to blow and cluck on than others. The easiest mouth call to cluck on is the double reed. To cluck, apply shorts bursts of air while pulling your tongue sharply off the reed. Simulate the word puck. When it comes to diaphragm mouth calls, all manufacturers make mouth calls with different thickness rubber and tensions. That’s why a good call to start with is a double reed, because it’s one of the easiest calls to use.
Q. Having finally drawn for a spring turkey hunt, I do not want
to waste any game upon a successful hunt. What is the proper procedure for field dressing a turkey.
A. There is two ways to clean your turkey. You can remove the breast and the legs or clean the turkey for baking or deep frying. First, lay the turkey on it’s back. For removing the breast, find the breast bone and make an incision on each side of the breast bone removing the breast from the bone. Then trim around the breast to remove it from the turkey. Then remove each thigh from the bird. To clean the bird for baking or deep frying, first have fun removing all of the feathers. Then lay the turkey on its back. Follow the breast bone with your hand toward the rear of the bird. The breast bone narrows down to a point. Hold the point and pull up on the breast bone. Make a horizontal incision between the breast bone and the vent. Do not go all the way to the anus. Make the incision large enough to insert your hand and pull out the entrails. Be sure to pull out the heart and lungs. Rinse out with water and wipe with paper towels.
Q. This is my first time turkey hunting for a spring gobbler. What is the best way to call him with a slate call and also how often to call?
A. Every calling situation is different, however, a good rule of thumb is to set-up within 100 yards of the turkey at the same level or slightly above with no obstacles between you and the turkey. Always start calling soft at first (3 or 4 yelps), and see how he responds. If the turkey gobbles while your yelping, pause and then call more aggressive. If he responds again, set your call down and make him look for you. If he doesn’t come in where you can see him in about 10 minutes, then call to him more aggressively.
Q. How do you make a wing bone yelper?
A. Good question. The best answer I have is contact Turkey & Turkey Hunting magazine for a past issue on how to make a wing bone call.
Q. I have read on several instances that calling a turkey uphill is better that calling them downhill. Why is this the practice that most experts, such as yourself endorse? Also, I have read that turkeys will fly down away away from the rising sun, is this true?
A. Turkeys in general will go wherever they want. They live there! Sometimes we make it more complicated than it needs to be. I don’t put much faith in a turkey flying away from the sun intentionally. You can call turkeys uphill and downhill, the key is to make it easy for the turkey to come to you. For more information watch Eye on the Wild Turkey Vol. I and Vol. II.
Q. I’m hunting by a river it’s about 60 feet across. Will they fly across the river?
A. Turkeys will fly a river to come to a call, but you should also have a second option.
Q. I just started turkey hunting. I don’t understand how long I should wait between calls if they are not gobbling. Plus, I don’t know what a mouth call is supposed to sound like.
A. Every calling situation is different. Call depending on the turkeys reaction. If you don’t hear any gobbling wait 30 or 40 minutes then call again. Eye on the Wild Turkey Sounds of Spring CD covers mouth call instruction and has plenty of calling to practice with.
Q. What exactly is a fly-down call? Is the fly-down call useful is spring hunting?
A. A fly-down cackle is a fast excited series of cutting going up and down in pitch. A hen makes this sound when it fly’s off the roost in the morning. I only use this call early in the morning. Like all calls, sometime it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sounds of Spring CD covers the fly-down call.
Q. On two occasions, I had gobblers answering my calls, but both times the gobblers stayed put or slowly drifted away, all the while answering my calls. Do you have a suggestion for what to do in this situation?
A. Change positions. Circle wide around the turkeys and set-up in the direction of the turkeys travel route.
Q. I have just purchased my first box call and would like to know the basic calling techniques.
A. Pull the paddle across the edge without picking it up. Different amounts of pressure will create different sounds. Keep the paddle well chalked. You can listen to Box calling on the Sounds of Spring CD.

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