When Gobblers Show But You Don't Know

You've worked hard to earn your spring turkey. Don't blow it now - listen for the bird that might be standing in range. Then enjoy the ride back to camp with your gobbler. (Photo - Steve Hickoff)

Call it the sixth sense of turkey hunting. You haven't heard a thing but you just have a feeling that gobbler is there, watching you. Trust this hunch until proven otherwise, especially if you've worked a hard-gobbling bird that's gone quiet. Ever get a turkey fired up, wait for what seemed long enough, stand and flush it right behind you? Busted! Here are some other sounds you should listen for with non-gobbling turkeys and how you can respond.


Male turkeys don't just gobble; they also "gobbler yelp" - and cluck. Their yelp is often muted, coarse, three-noted and infrequent. Gobbler yelp back if you hear it. Listen for their single-note cluck as they look for signs of the calling hen (hopefully you).


Barking squirrels, screeching blue jays and crows cawing wildly can key you into a turkey's movements in your direction. I've killed a gobbler or two this way when other wildlife let me know that big bird was coming. Other wildlife in the woods reacts to moving turkeys, too.


Are you hearing a non-calling turkey coming to your position, or another hunter? Key on these other noises, while also being safe - shut-mouthed spring gobblers and hunters walking make similar sounds at times while moving through the woods; always identify your target.


While the gobble is easy to distinguish, some hunters can't or don't know what to listen for when it comes to the "pfft-dummmm" sound of a strutting gobbler. This might be one of the only sounds you hear as that solo bird comes to your setup. Listen for it. Alarm putts will sometimes follow if you don't.

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