Editor’s Note: Matt Van Cise of Brookville, Pennsylvania, loves to hunt and call turkeys. He’s won seven World Open Championships, five Senior Grand Nationals, two Grand National Friction Calling Championships, a World Friction Championship, three U.S. Opens, the Mid-American Open and the North American Open. If you include all the smaller calling contests, he’s probably won over 100. He recently won the 2018 National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) (www.nwtf.org) Grand Nation Friction Calling Contest.
I only use decoys when I’m hunting field gobblers. I’ve never used decoys in the woods. One of the toughest turkeys to take in the woods is a gobbler with hens. I’m sure you’ve read that to take this turkey you have to agitate and aggravate the boss hen with your calling. However, that tactic often doesn’t work. I just leave that bird alone when I know he’s with hens. I’ll come back and hunt him later in the morning or on another day. Often the gobbler will leave those hens at 10:00 or 11:00 am, and you’ll have a chance to call that bird.
I don’t waste much time hunting one turkey. I have hundreds of places I can hunt, so if a gobbler has hens or refuses to come to my calling, I back out of the woods and hunt another gobbler. I don’t like to put hunting pressure on the birds I’m trying to take. I’d rather find another turkey that’s gobbling and coming to me, instead of wasting the morning aggravating a gobbler I probably won’t be able to take. That’s what makes my hunting experiences different. Often a hunter will continue to call a turkey, trying to get him to come in to the gun, even if that turkey doesn’t want to come. Some hunters think that when you call a gobbler over and over, and he won’t come to you, you’re educating that gobbler. That may be true, however, I think the longbeard just gets bored with your calling and walks off. Instead of continually attempting to work a stubborn gobbler, you’ll be far-more successful if you pick up and move. Go find another turkey that wants to come to your calling.
Some gobblers won’t respond to a turkey call. Maybe those turkeys have been shot at or wounded before, or perhaps they just don’t want to breed. I usually leave those birds alone. Instead of calling to tough turkeys, I prefer to spend more time scouting that turkey and finding the locations he frequents. When I put on my Mossy Oak (www.mossyoak.com) camouflage and go into the woods to hunt a turkey, I spend more time hunting (learning all I can about a turkey’s habits) than I do calling to that turkey. Being proficient as a turkey caller has made me more successful as a turkey hunter, but I rely more on my woodsmanship and my hunting skills to get me where a turkey wants to be, rather than trying to call a gobbler in to where I want to hunt.
My strategy is to get as close to the gobbler as fast as I can once I hear him gobble. If a gobbler is talking to me, I want to take him quickly before he changes his mind. If I’m hunting later in the morning, and that turkey answers my call with a gobble, I’ll start moving toward that bird. I call every 50 yards as I travel toward him. I want to get him so excited that he almost chokes himself gobbling. I want to convince him I’m a hen coming to him. Sometimes this tactic can bite you, and you’ll spook the gobbler. That’s happened to me. No tactic, strategy or calling technique will work every time you go turkey hunting.
I’m in the woods often and moving through the woods regularly. I rely heavily on my Mossy Oak camouflage to keep the gobblers from seeing me. During the early season, I prefer to hunt wearing Mossy Oak Break-Up, because we don’t have a lot of green in the woods during the early season in Pennsylvania. Later in the season, when the trees and bushes start putting on fresh growth and sprouting green leaves, I prefer Mossy Oak Obsession that has more green in the pattern. I even camouflage my feet and legs by wearing LaCrosse (http://www.lacrossefootwear.com/) rubber boots with Mossy Oak camo on them in the Treestand or Break-Up patterns. I also have a Mossy Oak hat, face net and gloves. The only parts of my body not covered in camo are my glasses and my eyes.
To see and learn more about the custom calls that Van Cise is making, go to his Facebook page at High Class Calls by Matt Van Cise https://www.facebook.com/Highclasscalls, or you can go to his personal Facebook page Matt Van Cise www.facebook.com/matt.vancise.
To learn more about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ print, Audible and Kindle turkey books at http://johninthewild.com/books/#turkey. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone. For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to http://johninthewild.com/free-books/.