With every state in the Washington area full bore into the various spring wild turkey seasons, imagine what the thousands of camouflaged hunters would do if they didn't have special ways to draw the wary birds into gun range. They'd be out of luck. Few wild birds are as naturally skittish and reluctant to show themselves as wild turkeys are.
Unfortunately for the turkeys, the market place is loaded with help aids of every type. There are diaphragm calls that, when improperly placed against the roof of the mouth, can make a body gag. However, they can be very effective if the mouth-roof thing isn't a problem with you.
Then you have hen yelping boxes and slate boxes that are gently rubbed with a striker and, when properly operated, sound so much like the real article, more than one hunter over the years has been completely fooled, staying nearby, certain he was in the presence of turkeys. Instead it was a fellow human.
It takes skill to fool a tom turkey who's crazy in love with a lovely turkey female. But just like their human counterparts, boy turkeys eventually make mistakes. The results are pretty only if you're into seasoning the plucked delicacies, getting them ready for the oven and setting the temperature dial.
I'm into baking such birds and, no, you don't need fake butter inserts under the turkey's skin the way a certain domestic variety is sold in grocery stores. I also don't need pop-up thermometers and such things. Just salt and pepper the wild one, stick it into a roasting bag for the same amount of time you would a similar-weighing domestic type (without stuffing), and there you have it.
Meanwhile, if there's a forested spot that you can hunt and you know it attracts and holds turkeys, hurry and get acquainted with the latest line of turkey calls made by the justly famed Knight & Hale Game Calls, Inc., of Cadiz, Ky.
The first thing you ought to get is the company's latest videotape, entitled "Ultimate Spring III." It is the best turkey hunting/calling video I've ever seen. Through the tape you'll join a Knight & Hale team for 17 successful hunts covering 10 states, from Alabama to New York. You'll see so much strutting and hear gobbling and proper ways to call that you'll be a nervous, happy wreck at the end of the tape. Each separate hunt ends with the killing shot. So if you're not into seeing such things, this is not for you.
In the past several weeks I've tried Knight & Hale's "Screaming Hen IV" diaphragm call and it's exactly as the catalog from the company describes it - a hand-cut, four-reed, high-pitched hen call that can make the woods come alive with responses from gobblers.
The "Silver Queen" is an aluminum friction call that is used with a glass-filled striker that works in rain or sunshine - it doesn't matter. The sounds the striker produces when moved over the surface at the right speed and proper angle are so rich and lifelike, in 25 years of trying various striker calls, I've never heard a better one. It's the glass-filled "Ultimate Striker" that is given so much credit by the company. "It works well on glass, slate, and aluminum surfaces," said David Hale and Harold Knight, the owners of the Kentucky company that some years ago set Maryland's Eastern Shore goose hunting world on fire with a tube call that sounded as if 20 Canada geese honked and cackled at the same time.
If you want more details, call Knight & Hale at 800/500-9357 or 502/924-1755.
Another company, Advanced Decoy Research, of Bolivar, Tenn., has introduced a nifty item, the "Decoy Heart," which is a removable device that can bring lifelike movement to any lightweight decoy that you probably already own.
The "Decoy Heart" weighs only a few ounces and can be placed into a wild turkey decoy (or those for waterfowl and predators). It operates on one "AA" battery and will supply decoy movement for approximately three hours. It can then be removed and carried in your pocket.
With the "Decoy Heart" a little handiwork is required to make it function properly. For example, with a turkey decoy, the printed instructions will show you in detail how you must use a piece of foam rubber to surround the mechanical unit and stick it into the neck area of the decoy. It also shows how to reposition the stake that holds the turkey decoy so the battery-powered device can provide the head-dipping motion any feeding bird makes.