When Gobblers Show But You Don't Know

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.

Recommended Videos

SHOT Show 2019: Thompson Center TC R22

Game & Fish Editor-in-Chief John Geiger and Danielle Sanville of Thompson Center take a look at the TC R22 rimfire at SHOT Show 2019 in Las Vegas.

SHOT Show 2019: Browning T-Bolt Rimfire

Game & Fish Editor-in-Chief John Geiger highlights the Browning T-Bolt Rimfire at SHOT Show 2019 in Las Vegas.

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.