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High Frequency Friction Calling

I will be the first to admit that I was skeptical of the aluminum and other high frequency friction calling surfaces for a long time. High frequency turkey calls are calls that are able to produce the natural sounds of the wild turkey at a louder and much higher pitched level than a traditional call. About fifteen years ago, one call company that had previously been making my favorite friction call in the conventional glass, slate, and crystal surfaces began making calls with aluminum and even ceramic surfaces. I was very hesitant to try these calls for a while and thought that they were just another gimmick to try to sell more products. Seven or eight years ago, a good friend of mine that has been very successful both in the turkey woods and on the competition stage told me how well these calls were working to call in the tough Alabama Eastern gobblers that we had always hunted. After finally buying and running one myself, I no longer step into the woods on a Spring morning in pursuit of a gobbling tom or walk onto a stage for a calling competition without an aluminum friction call by my side.

Today you can purchase an assortment of calls of higher pitch or frequency than a traditional glass or slate call is able to produce. Many companies now make friction calls that combine a crystal or aluminum calling surface over a walnut or cherry pot. You can also find an assortment of box calls that combine cherry or cedar wood boxes with exotic wood lids that are very capable of reaching the higher notes that is often necessary to locate a wary tom. Personally, I keep a Zink Calls Thunder Ridge Series aluminum pot style call and an all cherry wood box call in my vest to achieve these sounds. The combination of striker and call can really intensify the sound that these calls can make when matched properly. I have found that purpleheart or hickory two piece strikers and laminated oak or birch flaretip one piece strikers can really reach a high pitch when paired with the right crystal or aluminum surface. To condition these surfaces, a scotch brite pad works best on an aluminum call and a conditioning stone is my preference for the crystal pot.

Most of my success with these high frequency calls comes from mid-morning to late afternoon. I start my morning off like most hunters, either waiting for a tom to gobble on his own or by blowing an owl hooter or other locator call to pin point his whereabouts. After that, I try to move in as close as possible without spooking the bird and setup in an attempt to trick him into coming my way. If my morning battle with the gobblers does not end successfully, I begin covering ground and using the high frequency friction calls. I prefer to walk the logging roads or ridges, which more often than not in my hunting grounds of West Alabama are covered in plantation pines or are cutovers from some phase of the logging process. During these walks, I frequently stop to yelp in areas where I have either planted food plots, seen turkeys, found sign while scouting, or in areas that will carry the sound of my calling as far as possible. I start out by clucking on the Zink Calls Thunder Ridge Aluminum pot call and I begin calling fairly soft and quiet. I do this because I have always been told that you can always call louder to try to make a gobbler hear you, but you can never get a chance to call softer to a gobbler that you cut and cackled to and scared off that was just over the next ridge. If my initial soft clucks and yelps don’t coax him into a gobble, I will get more aggressive with my clucks and yelps on the aluminum pot while gradually getting louder and putting more emotion into the calling. The clucks and yelps often transition into excited yelping or a series of cuts that often shocks a gobbler into letting you know his position. I have stood on the same ridge and done two or three renditions of this five to ten minutes apart before finally getting a gobble. This whole process often starts out mid morning and goes well into the afternoon if I have a large enough tract of land to cover or if I know turkeys are in the area. These sounds are not limited to the aluminum pot call, and I will often mix it up and make the same calls on a cherry box shortly after running the aluminum call. This sound simulates several hens communicating back and forth which can often coerce a gobble from a tight lipped tom. Once I do get an answer, I do not back off with the intensity of my calling until I know the gobbler is headed my way, and even then, I probably push the limits with the aggressiveness of my calling. I love to hear them gobble, which I know you can make them do too much at times, but this is why I call harder and louder to toms in this situation. More often than not, if you have a mid-morning to late afternoon bird answering you, then his gobbles are just as aggressive as your calling and if your cards are played right, you often get a chance to close the deal! I use a modified version of this tactic for late afternoon toms. If I do not have a gobbler pinpointed, then I will go to an area where I know birds were during the morning or where they frequent in the afternoons. I will often set up a lone hen looker decoy prior to starting my series of calls, and my decoy of preference is from the Avian X line of turkey decoys. I will start off calling softly just like it was breaking daylight. I will switch from soft yelps to clucks and purrs, all the while, scratching in the leaves trying to sound like feeding turkeys. This soft calling that starts out on a Zink Calls two reed mouth call, eventually turns into the loud and aggressive calling on the high frequency aluminum pot or cherry box calls if have not gotten a response during the first half hour of my setup. Just like midday hunting, if I get a response from a gobbler, I keep pouring the calling to him trying to keep him excited enough to come my way in time to bag the bird before he flies up onto the limb.

The situations, setups, and calling styles mentioned are definitely not ideal for every situation, or every hunter for that matter, but I have found that they have worked for me over the last few years from Florida to Tennessee to Texas, and everywhere in between. High frequency turkey calls definitely bring a new element to calling and hunting situations, and they add one more weapon to your arsenal of tactics that you can try on tight lipped gobblers. If you are like me, you are willing to try anything that it takes in an attempt to tricking a gobbler to commit to your setup, and I hope that by reading this, you have either added one more tool to your tool belt or at least been mildly entertained. If you are going to try this tactic and are not yet equipped with the right gear, then I would definitely give the high frequency friction calls manufactured by Zink Calls and the lifelike and portable Avian X Decoys a try this turkey season.

Terence Williamson
2006 & 2011 National Friction Champion
Prostaff & Elite Calling Team member for Zink Calls, Avian X Decoys, Mossy Oak, Ol’ Tom Technical Turkey Gear, and HeviShot Ammunition

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5 Reasons to Turkey Hunt Public Land

Don’t get me wrong, I hunt private and public land during turkey season. Each has their pros and cons, but in this article, I intend on highlighting a few of the benefits of public land turkey hunting.

Cost

Hunting leases can be expensive and owning your own property is even more expensive. In Georgia, there are over 100 WMA hunting areas, which cover over 1 million acres of public turkey hunting opportunities. For the cost of a big game license and a WMA stamp, turkey hunters have access to public hunting areas within a 1 hour drive.

Opportunities

As mentioned above, Georgia has over 1 million acres of public hunting land. Residents should have public land to hunt within an hour drive. For me personally, I have at least 7 different areas [within an hour drive] that offer great turkey hunting opportunities.

Enjoy Hunting with Friends and Family

Many hunting clubs don’t allow visitors, and for the ones that do, [some] club members aren’t too happy when you bring in a group of visitors. Public hunting land provides an opportunity for experienced hunters to introduce new hunters to the sport and to bring along family and friends as they like.

Wide open spaces!

Private hunting leases can cost hunters $7/acre or more. So $700 would allow you to lease 100 acres. The WMAs I hunt, which are all near my home, are all over 10,000 acres. Even while sharing the area with other hunters, 10,000 acres is a lot of ground to cover and move on turkeys.

Many public hunting lands are loaded with turkeys

There is a perception that public land hunting isn’t as good as private land. While some areas get more pressure than others, I remember telling my brother, “I’m not sure we could have paid for a better hunt,” as we carried out two long beards after a morning hunt full of vocal birds. The key to having a successful public land turkey hunt is to scout, scout, and then scout some more. Be sure to cover lots of ground late fall and early spring to learn where the birds are. Look for scratching, dirt roads with tracks after a good rain, and listen for birds in the evening as they fly up to roost. Learn the area and then move on to learn more areas. When hunting public land, you’ll always need a good plan B if someone else is in that spot before you get there.

Turkey hunt public land this spring!

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Texas Super Stalk – Confessions of a Turkey Hunter

I’m sure everyone has confidence in their hunting and stalking abilities but I have to tell you based on a stalk I pulled off on a gobbler many years ago; I think it’s safe to say I’m in a league of my own when it comes to stealth and pulling off the improbable.

The scene was in San Angelo Texas and it was my third year hunting the same ranch. Two gobblers were included with the hunt with an option to take a 3rd and 4th for an extra bird fee. I got off to a quick start and took a bird on the first morning and another in the afternoon taking care of my first two tags. I didn’t want to quit hunting so I decided to pay the extra bird fee which at that point was $150.

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The second morning I jumped in the rental car and drove to a detached property tract about 30 minutes away from the ranch and began my morning hunt. I parked and took off on what would be about a 30 minute walk to the power lines which is where I planned to kill my next bird. Yes in Texas turkeys roost on power poles as they provide the highest perch around. It’s quite a sight to see actually and at times they can be lined up like buzzards. If you’re doing afternoon scouting you learn to walk under the poles and look for droppings to determine which poles are being used and then it’s just a matter of backing up away far enough that you won’t mess up a roost area and start playing with the birds once they get down or when they’re headed back. I had done my homework and knew the routine. It paid off and I had my third Rio within a couple hours of fly down.

I gathered up the gobbler and began the long walk out. It was a hot day and after walking a while I decided I would lighten my load and ditch everything but my gun and drive back to pick up the bird. I tossed my vest and the bird on the side of the road and continued for a ways. A short time later I decided there was no reason to keep lugging my gun around so I laid it off to the side of the road as well and took off for the rental car. It was a haul but finally I made it to the car and the cooler with my water bottle.

As I was driving back I came around a curve and saw a gobbler in full strut 200-250 yards down a long straight away. He was in full strut and kept raising and lowering his fan and turning off to one side of the road and was putting on a big show. My binoculars were in my vest so I couldn’t get a good look at him or tell if he had other birds with him but I assumed he at least had hens. As I sat there watching him a little light bulb came on inside my head and I realized that my gun should be somewhere this side of him. The killer instinct resurfaced inside me and I decided if I could somehow pull off a stalk that involved first reaching my gun and then the bird……I’d pay the fourth bird fee. I knew it was a low percentage effort and I wasn’t even sure where I left my gun but it seemed like a good challenge to undertake so I decided to go for it.

I eased the door open and tried to make myself small, and then slid out of the car like a snake. I hadn’t crawled 10’ before I started taking hits from cactus or some unidentified objects but being the tough and determined predator I had become, I sucked it up and worked my way over to the brush and then took off running darting from cover to cover. I stayed away from the road for the first 100 yards and just plowed through whatever was in my way taking several mesquite and cactus hits for my trouble. I knew I was going to have to get the tweezers out when I got back to the ranch and maybe require surgery with all the hits I was taking but its amazing what you can take with adrenalin flowing throughout your body.

After I had gone what seemed like 150 yards I eased back out to the road and crawled over to peek around to find the bird and get my bearings. I caught a glimpse of movement and pulled back into the cover. To my relief the gobbler was still there strutting around and only 60-70 yards away. Now I began to worry whether my gun was on this side of him or beyond. I crouched down and duck walked staying back off the road trying to find the gun and just when I was starting to give up, I saw it laying just a few yards away.

I should point out that as good as lightweight loose leaf camouflage is for hiding, it’s not worth a crap when it comes to crawling on the ground in southwest Texas and I’m convinced it attracts prickly pear and thorns like a magnet. I started taking some serious hits right as I was getting to my gun but somehow managed to muffle my moans. I grabbed the Benelli and army crawled over to the edge of the road using a prickly pear bush as cover. My heart was racing as I was on edge of pulling off what was nothing less than a super stalk on this bird. As I tensely made my last couple of painful crawls and strained to peak down the road I caught a glimpse of a fan and movement.

We’ve all experienced what I would call “defining moments” as turkey hunters and as I lay there all stuck and bleeding with my gun raised and lined up on this gobbler, I knew I had just experienced one that would never be forgotten. The bird was right where I thought he’d be, just 25 yards away. In fact, he was right where I had left him lying after I had shot him the first time right beside my vest with the Texas wind lifting and lowering his fan.

I’m pretty sure that statistically speaking that percentages are in a hunters favor when stalking an already dead bird which is what this whole crazy episode had been about.

I realize this piece could easily be titled “Confessions of an Idiot” and if I had any sense at all I’d never acknowledge that this occurred. But here I am telling everyone that reads this all about it.

That said: its fun for me to look back and reflect on my earlier experiences as a turkey hunter. It’s obvious that I’ve had many less than glorious moments and this incident in Texas is just one of many.

I’m a wiser today compared to my earlier years in terms of how I go about things but I’m sure I could add a new paragraph each year.

The adventures, and learning experiences that we encounter through turkey hunting provides us all great memories and in my case many laughs and a fair amount of embarrassment. I’d like to think it’s not just me and I have to wonder how many of you shared similar experiences but you’re just smart enough not to admit it.

Bobby Parks
Grand Slam Network
Mossy Oak Pro Staff