April 09, 2020
By Terry Madewell
When I'mpaying attention in the turkey woods I'll learn good stuff on nearly every hunt. Often those lessons occur in strange ways.
I was snuggled in tight to a big white oak, shrouded in shade and shielded with leafy cover. I conjured a mental image of an old longbeard strutting into the small woods opening I was watching at some point that morning.
But the gobbler I'd roosted the evening before had not responded to any of the plethora of calls I'd made. But I'd learned the value of patience and a few minutes later I caught movement and I though the old bird had approached in stealth mode.
But it was a jake that slipped in quietly. At 15 yards from my position he stopped, upped his periscope neck and swiveled it looking for a hen he'd heard but couldn't see.
Then he took his best shot at gobbling.
I felt embarrassed for the young bird. It was a horrendous attempt based on a mature gobbler's sound. I'm glad I witnessed it because I may not have identified it as a gobble had I not seen it.
But a series of events unfolded that forever changed my turkey hunting life. I heard a thundering gobble far off and from the direction of the bird I'd roosted the previous evening.
Several seconds later the jake gobbled again and this time the mature gobbler hammered a response that cut off the young bird's gobble. Moments later I saw the adult bird at about the same moment he saw the jake. The longbeard quick-stepped straight to the jake, stopped, double-gobbled and popped into full strut.
At this point I snapped back into the reality of the moment and shot the longbeard.
That's the day I added the jake gobble to my arsenal of calls. It's certainly not a ‘go to' call but neither is it a last resort. It's almost embarrassing to use a jake gobble in front of another hunter.I've had inexperienced hunters laugh, until a longbeard came rushing in to quell the jake's attempt to steal a hen. It's perhaps the only bad-sounding turkey call that is purposefully used to produce swift, positive results.
The time and place for a jake gobble use varies but essentially it works best when gobblers seem to be stingy with gobbles, but you know by sign and scouting adult gobblers are in the vicinity.
Also safety considerations are paramount, especially using a jake or adult gobbles on public land or any place where others could be hunting in your vicinity. My rule is when in doubt don't gobble in any form.
Jake gobbles vary tremendously and I've heard jakes produce a good gobble, but generally it's a recognizable but unpolished gobble-like sound. It's not a full gobble, it's abbreviated with poor follow-thru at the end, a ‘half gobble' if you will.Jakes usually don't have the final part of the gobble perfected; they get the “gobble” part decently but not the “gobble obble obble” trail off at the end.
But you have to produce this perfectly imperfect call on command when using it in the woods, so practice is mandatory.
The sound can be best learned by listening to jakes in the woods and even listening to tapes with jakes gobbling.
Gobble calls are sold commercially that make reasonably good adult gobbles and these can be manipulated to produce an abbreviated jake gobble sound. I use a mouth or tube call for a jake sound. I'll place the tip of my tongue on the mouth call reed and spring the tongue on and off the reed with a “ta-ta-ta” sound that starts out like a gobble and just stops. On the tube call I place my lips to the reed and rumble a short “tooka-tooka-tooka” sound.
I’ll employ the jake gobble call when I think jealously can be used against an older gobbler.
One technique I use that's reasonably dependable — and has little if any negative impact if it fails — is to run a couple series of hen calls with clucks and yelps on a frictions call. Then I turn my head to produce a sound from a slightly different location and I'll belch out a jake gobble.
The jake gobble is a great sidekick call along with the polished adult gobble. Adult gobbles are good for tempting an old, long-spurred monarch of the of the turkey woods. But a jake gobble has the potential to call in any adult gobbler, including 2-year-olds, that are sometimes hesitant to respond to a dominant adult gobble.
Having a jake gobble in your arsenal will occasionally swing success to your favor. Use it judiciously but know that it is natural to turkeys and when it works you have the pleasure knowing you were really good at making a bad-sounding call.