Sunday, 9 April 2017

JAKES AND HENS, PART ONE


JAKES AND HENS

PART ONE

 
It was October 20th and I had just paid the deposit for a hunt in South Texas with Pope Brothers Outfitters, I was going to be hunting for hogs, javalina, vermin and Rio Grande turkeys.  I was due to fly out in April, giving me six months to get ready and prepare my equipment and myself.  Not having any wild turkeys in the UK, and not knowing anyone who had hunted them in the US, I started off by reading all the articles I could find on the internet, when I had exhausted these I purchased some DVD’s, these are a great teaching aid, you get to see and hear from professional hunters how you should go about your chosen hunt.  The choice of DVD titles on turkey hunting is huge, I bought a couple that were not as good or as informative as I was hoping, but I also bought some very good titles, the best in my opinion being The Truth series, these are made and released by Primos, the same company that make an array of hunting calls and accessories.  I also purchased some books and was given another by a friend and fellow hunter for Christmas.  All this information was essential for a complete novice like me, if I wanted to be successful. 

 

Turkey hunting is not a spot and stalk type of hunt, instead you try and call the male bird to you by replicating turkey talk.  Most of the sounds a hunter will make are those of the hen turkey, you play on the male turkeys increased hormone levels and eagerness to pass his genes on to the next generation, by trying to impersonate a hen turkey.  The sounds are produced in a variety of ways, there are diaphragm calls that fit against the roof of you mouth, there are box calls and pot and peg calls that both work on friction, and a whole host of semi-mechanical calls that also rely on friction to produce a realistic turkey sound.
 
 

 
I purchased several mouth calls from Cabelas in the USA, as they are not readily available here in the UK, and using my instructional DVD’s listened to and tried to replicate the various sounds commonly made by hen turkeys when feeding, and in response to a gobbling male turkey.  The mouth calls tend to be the most difficult to master, as they provoke a gag reflex in most people when they are placed in the roof of the mouth, but once that is overcome you soon learn to make the basic turkey sounds, then only hours of practice will hone your skills, and the variety and quality of the calls you can make.  On the other end of the difficulty spectrum is the box call, a good quality one will produce great sounds with very little practice, they work by the rubbing together of two pieces of wood, basically a box and a lid which is attached to the box with a single screw, loosely fitted to make a hinge.  You draw the lid over the top edges of the box to produce the sound.  The third type of call widely used is the pot and peg type or slate call, basically the pot is a sounder box and the peg is a striker or stylus, that is moved over the friction face of the pot, and again depending on how hard you press and how you move the peg, you produce a whole range of life like turkey sounds.

 
One of the things I found very useful as an aid to learning was an instructional CD, which I played in the car while travelling back and to from work, I would pop a mouth call in and make all the noise I wanted with out upsetting anyone.  Once you have learned to fool a turkeys ears, the next thing is to fool his eyes, for this you need camouflage.  A turkey has fantastic eyesight; if you are not completely covered in camo clothing he will see you.  For hunting in south Texas where daytime temperatures can exceed 40 degrees Celsius, I would have to wear a long sleeve tee shirt, long trousers, a veil, gloves and a hat, on top of that I wore a turkey waistcoat, which is a specially designed piece of kit, with pockets for all you calls and shot shells and a built in seat cushion.  Another essential piece of kit for safely wandering around Texas are snake guards, basically they are gaiters that cannot be penetrated by a snakes teeth, and in terrain where you cannot always see where you are stepping they are vital, the other thing they do is protect your lower legs from cactus spines, which on it’s own is a good enough reason to wear them.  Needless to say sitting waiting for a turkey in all those cloths is warm work, even if you are lucky enough to be sat in a bit of shade. 

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