Long ago, I accepted the fact that many, many people in the world were much
better at calling turkeys than I am. That doesn't mean I don't practice to get
better; in fact, it's a favorite pastime of mine when I'm in a treestand hunting deer. Maybe it's not a correct belief,
but I like to think that if deer hear the sound of a contented flock of
turkeys, they may feel that the area is safe.
Deer hunters often talk about "educating" deer. For example, the hunters put
out some scent, do a rattle and call sequence, and call in a young buck or doe.
The hunters don't shoot because they are waiting for a big buck. However, the
young buck or doe smells or sees the hunter, snorts, pops up that white tail
and careens away to safety.
And it makes me wonder, when something like that happens, does that mean
that those deer will be less likely to respond to rattling and calling again? I
believe it's true. In fact, research on bucks in wild populations often shows
that some older bucks -- shooter bucks -- stop participating in the rut. The
researchers don't yet know why that happens. Could it be that those older bucks
once responded to a hunter's deer scent, rattle and call, and found the human
instead? What if a buck responded to that and was wounded, would that be enough
to stop its future participation in the rut?
We don't know. But I believe a similar thing happens in the turkey world.
Those hunters I mentioned -- the ones who are really good at calling
turkeys? They can't stand it as the season approaches. They've just got to go
out there and start "fooling with" the turkeys.
I was out for a late Sunday breakfast and overheard them as they
were talking about the big gobbler they called in early that morning. It makes
me want to go to their table and complain.
"Hey, you, yes you in the camouflage outfit," I would say, if I had the
nerve. "Please stop fooling around with the turkeys before the season starts.
"I believe there is a limit to the number of times you can fool a turkey,
and I believe it is a low number," I would add. "So just wait until opening day
and let's all start fresh, all of us, and all the turkeys."
Another aspect of deer hunting that carries over to turkey hunting is the
game's ability to see UV light. Most deer hunters have heard about that, and
take the extra step of spraying their hunting clothing and deer with UV killer.
I've heard it said that if turkeys could smell us, we'd never get one. True.
But research shows that turkeys can also see UV light. If we've taken care of
our hunting clothes, we should be OK on that level. But hunters also need to
test their blinds, and especially, their decoys, and if needed spray that gear
with a UV killer.
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