April 20, 2016
Look into my turkey vest and you'll find a wide array of turkey calls filling every nook and cranny.
One, because I'm a turkey-call maker's dream, a hunter addicted to the ongoing search for the perfect gobbler-getting call.
Which come to think of it, might help to explain why my wife seems to roll her eyes so much at this time of year when I go near a major outdoors box store.
A second reason for my burgeoning turkey-call collection is when it comes tagging a sharp-spurred longbeard, what works fine and dandy one day may or may not work so well the next.
But don't take my word for it. Instead, take the word of legendary turkey call manufacturer Will Primos, founder of Primos Hunting Calls and co-host of Primos Truth About Hunting television show on Outdoor Channel.
"You never need to go to the turkeys depending on just one call," said Primos, who sold his first calls back in 1976. "It's one of those things that makes them fun to hunt. One day, they'll respond to a mouth call. And on another day, it will be a slate or a box call."
Because of that truth, it's wise to carry a selection of different calls into the woods each spring.
And perhaps the best place to start is with the time-tested box call design, a wooden yelper like the Primos Grand Slam Series Heartbreaker Rio Grande call.
The third in a four-year limited edition series, this year's call features a 3-D laser engraved scene showing off a big Rio Grande gobbler strutting his stuff for the ladies along with being individually numbered (a total of 1,200 such calls are being made) and signed by Will Primos.
Whether simple or elaborate, limited edition or mass produced, the truth is that probably no other type of call in the sport's longstanding history has accounted for the demise of more turkeys than the box call has.
"A box (call) is a great (thing to carry)," said Primos. "The only drawback is that it does require two hands to use. But it's a great old standby call."
A second type of call to carry will be some sort of pot call. Again, Primos makes a wide variety of such calls including a limited edition Rio Grande Heartbreaker edition for 2016 that features a hardwood pot and a crystal surface.
While I like crystal and glass surfaced calls, I'll also be sure to have a real slate call in my vest, something like the wooden pot Jackpot call. While you can get fairly loud on such a call, you can also back off and get really subtle, something that can coax in a wary gobbler in heavily hunted territory.
What about mouth calls? Primos said that such calls are very versatile, require no movement to operate as a wary bird struts his way in and can be used in all sorts of weather conditions.
"I would recommend a double-reed call," said Primos. "When you get into triple and quadruple reed calls, there's more latex and it requires more air pressure to blow them right."
When it comes to learning how to use these various turkey calls, Will's cousin, Jimmy Primos, has a couple of suggestions.
The first recommendation is not to get intimidated by the call.
"There's nothing really difficult about learning to use a mouth call," said Jimmy. "It's really just getting the proper instruction in how to use it."
A good way of gaining such instruction is by using some sort of electronic media designed to help a hunter master the art of mouth calling to a longbeard.
Back in the day when I got started in this grand springtime game, I utilized a cassette instruction tape from Primos that I wore out in my pick-up truck while driving to and from the turkey woods.
Today, my teenage boys don't even know what a cassette tape is. But they do know what a CD is and Primos offers one in the company's Instructional Pack entitled Mastering the Art: Turkey Mouth Calls Made Easy.
And since most hunters today are wired to learn visually, Primos also offers an excellent DVD resource entitled Mastering the Art: Turkey Hunting.
While the Primos gang certainly likes selling such resources to turkey hunters, Jimmy admits that the second recommendation he has doesn't involve any sort of purchase.
Because that recommendation is to find a mentor of some sort to teach a turkey hunter the calling ropes.
"The best way to learn how to call is to get with experienced hunters (who know how to call) and get some good pointers from them," he said. "Will is excellent on teaching people how to turkey call. He's the best I've ever seen at grabbing someone and teaching them how to effectively call."
Whatever call a hunter chooses and however he or she chooses to gain instruction on utilizing such calls, the bottom line, according to Jimmy Primos, is interacting with a wild old gobbler out in the woods on a fine spring day is what this game is all about.
"It's hard to kill a turkey," said Jimmy. "Somebody once said that if turkeys could smell a hunter (the way that deer do), you'd probably never kill one.
"But (they can hear pretty well) and that's what makes turkey hunting such a great sport, being able to call to them and have them come in your direction."
Especially when you've got a vest full of turkey calls designed to get them to do exactly that.