Spring is coming and turkey sounds are on everyones mind. As you head to the woods this spring, bring all of you old turkey sounds, and learn a couple of new vocalizations as well. Even more importantly, learn to read a turkeys body language. If you know how those birds feel about the turkey sounds you make, you will do a better job of saying the right things. Turkey sounds will soon fill the woods, and if you like making them like I do, you can benefit from these tips.
Turkey sounds and body language
If you had to list the tools of communication a human male uses compared to a turkey, it would be close to 95% spoken, and 5% body language. A spring tom or jake turkey is the opposite. Turkey sounds comprise 5%, and 95% of what they say is through body language. Every feather helps tell the story of the turkey mood, and there’s a reason turkey have no feathers on their head. Those skin colors indicate dominance, fear, aggression and subordination. Even that little dew snood on top of the turkey beaks offers clues to their demeanor.
Male turkeys are an open book, and they are an easy to read once you know what you are looking at. Lets run down the parts of their bodies a male turkey uses to tell every other bird what’s going through that pea sized brain of his, and how that effects your turkey decoy design.
A relaxed or dangling snood is a sign of confidence. There is not a drop of fear in turkey’s birds body. He is digging the scene and going nowhere fast. Sit tight and watch the show unfold. Let the turkey dance. If your turkey decoy sports a hanging snood, he will scare lesser toms and jakes off. Make sure your turkey decoy has an upright and tight snood. If your turkey sounds make the snood shrink and rise, you are saying the wrong things.
The color of a turkeys head will clue you in on what they are feeling, and if the turkey sounds you make change his head color, you either did something good or bad, While rare to see, it lets you pick out the dominant turkey, who coincidentally is not always the heaviest or biggest spurred. He the best fighter in the bunch hands down. If your toms head is red, he’s probably not staying long. A spooked, frightened or submissive tom or jake will have a completely red head, and odds are they wont be at the turkey decoys long, if they even get that far.
If you want to take turkey home, take the first good shot. Most of the bow killed turkey you encounter will have red caruncles or bases, with a white cap and shades of blue or purple around the eyes, ears and beak. These turkey are neither super confident nor frightened or nervous. Read the rest of their body signals to see if they are staying or leaving, and make the right turkey sounds to keep you in the game. Read the language to see how long they will be in your turkey decoy set up.
Turkey sounds and all those feathers
One of our favorite scenes is the belly feathers of an adult turkey locked out so hard they shake like jello when he walks or runs. The turkey sounds you have or have not made are working well. Don’t change a thing. This turkey is on a mission and will not stop until he smacks your decoy. Let him bump your jake turkey decoy before you even think of taking the shot. You will be glad you waited.
Lower Back Feathers
The lower back feathers rising and falling are not the tell all, but you are in the game. Your bird is not sure what to do so you have to make all the right turkey sounds now. Pray he is not afraid of your jake turkey decoy, or that the neighbor didn’t try shooting him yesterday. Odds are not in your favor until you get the upper back feathers to dance, but you have a chance if you play everything right, and the turkey sounds you make will make or break the hunt.
Upper Back Feathers
When the upper back feathers get to rising your in a good place. This bird is feeling better and better and you have him on the bubble. The days is yours to make or break. With the right jake turkey decoy set and some sweet turkey sounds, he will commit. May be 1 minute, may be 45, but he will come if you play it right.
The full fan is the loudest of all body language, and what you want to pay attention to its direction. Watch where he points the fan. He will tilt and point the front of his fan at whoever he is trying to impress, and you want that to be you and your turkey decoy. If you cut (sharp turkey sounds) and he points his fan towards you, keep cutting, if you purr and he does it keep purring. Remember most days you can only be a part of the day. If he’s stuck on a certain hen, you may have to let him go for now. Maybe he will be back in an hour, maybe a day, but you can only control so much. He’s a wild animal, and that’s why we call it hunting.
Good luck with your turkey sounds, and pay attention to how they are received by the birds you call to for maximum results.