All posts by Terence Williamson

The Best Time to Turkey Hunt

I have been asked many times what my favorite time of day to hunt turkeys is. I have thought long and hard about this and the best answer that I have been able to come up with is whenever I can go. Most would probably say that they prefer breaking daylight and setting up on a gobbler before fly down, and more often than not, that is my approach as well. I enjoy hearing the woods come alive at daybreak, but I know that I am no different than most, and because of work, family, and other obligations, my opportunities to hunt turkeys may come at other times of the day.

As far as times to get after turkeys goes, my advice would be to go whenever you can. If your schedule allows you to hunt mornings, then by all means go and break daylight with them. If you are doing family activities or anything else early in the morning and find some time to slip away during the middle of the day, try “running and gunning” an area that you know has turkeys by covering ground and trying to get a response. If your work schedule only allows for afternoon hunts, then get after them then. Later in the season here in Alabama, I have heard some of my best gobbling action late in the day. In my experiences with a turkey gobbling in the afternoon, if he is answering your call and appears to be interested, there is a good chance that you can seal the deal before fly up time. If that gobbler decides that he wants to come to you, then he knows that he has to get it done before he goes to roost, so definitely don’t pass up a chance to hunt turkeys in the evenings if that is your only time to go!

I have heard many guys complaining about not going hunting because it was raining. If you have ever been riding around and looking at fields and pastures during and shortly after a spring shower, then you have certainly seen hens and gobblers pecking around in the fields. Earlier this month I was driving home after work and it was pouring down rain. Every pasture that I passed seemed to have turkeys feeding in them. I rushed home and threw on my rain suit and rubber boots only to have my wife ask me if I was crazy enough to try to go hunting in that weather. I knew of a lease of mine just a few miles down the road from my house with a couple of food plots that turkeys frequented regularly. Based on the amount of turkeys that I had already seen in the fields on nearby properties, I thought that there would be a good chance of finding a gobbler before dark that afternoon. As luck would have it, the second field that I glassed had a lone gobbler feeding in the pouring down rain. A stealthy approach on my part, concealed by a downpour of raindrops onto the forest floor, allowed for me to get extremely close to the field without making my presence known. A few soft yelps later, the gobbler was interested and came my way to investigate what he had heard. A short time after that, I was toting him back to my truck with a grin from ear to ear and paying no attention to the soaking rain. I do not recommend going out in a thunderstorm, and will be the first to admit that lightning strikes will send me running to the truck, but I do suggest that if your only time to get after turkeys is during or shortly after a rain, then leave your fancy custom calls in the truck, throw a few mouth calls and maybe a waterproof friction call in your pocket, and head to the woods!

Depending on time of the season, weather conditions, turkey behavior/breeding cycle, and countless other factors that I have not began to understand, gobbling turkeys can be extremely unpredictable. You may go out to the “perfect “spot, with the “perfect” weather on what you think is the “perfect” morning, and you may not hear a gobble. On the other hand, you may go out when it’s extremely cold and conditions appear to be terrible and hear turkeys gobbling in every direction. You may go to a place and hear nothing but silence at daylight, but if you come back to that place midday or late afternoon, the gobblers may be answering every call. You may even go at all these different times and not hear any gobbling. Instead you may hear spitting and drumming, hens “talking,” or turkeys scratching that may give away their whereabouts. You may set up as a last resort thinking that all attempts have ended in failure, only to have a curious tom walk in silently and undetected until he is right down the end of your gun barrel. Turkeys are definitely unpredictable animals, but if you put in your time doing preseason scouting and hunting at whatever time of day that your schedule allows, the odds are bound to be in your favor at one point in time or another!

By Terence Williamson
2 X Yellville National Friction Champion, 2013 World Championship 1st Runner Up – Two Man Team, 2 X 1st Runner Up – NWTF Grand National Calling Championships, 5 X Alabama State Champion, and Prostaff Member for Zink Calls & Avian X Decoys, Patternmaster, HeviShot Ammunition, Mossy Oak Brand Camouflage, Ol’ Tom Technical Turkey Gear

Friction Call Tips: Care & Conditioning

A friction call can be a very valuable tool to carry into the spring turkey woods. Unless it is raining, I never leave the truck without at least two slate calls and a handful of mouth calls. As we will discuss later in these friction call tips, there are even a few friction calls that I carry when it is raining. The main thing to take away from this segment will be learning how to properly care for and condition your call so that it will last for many more outings to come, rain or shine.

Care will be the first topic that we discuss, because if you do not properly care for your call, you won’t have it to use for very long. There are many items on the market today that can make caring for your calls a breeze. Several companies, such as Ol’ Tom Technical Turkey Gear, offer carrying cases that either attach to your vest or a belt loop to store box or slate calls, as well as strikers. These cases offer padded protection in case of falls or other bumps and spills not anticipated while hunting, and also keep your calls close at hand for quick use if needed. Some companies also sell plastic containers to store your slate or pot style calls. A measurement of your call diameters and a few minutes on the Tupperware aisle at the grocery store can leave you with some cheap storage to protect your calls from the elements. Not only will Tupperware containers keep your calls dry, but they also protect the surface from unwanted hits and bumps. I always keep a few gallon size plastic bags in my vest, too. You never know when you are going to get caught out in a rainstorm and these bags are useful for storing calls, licenses, camera, phone, etc. These days a custom friction call can sell for $100 or more and often times if they get wet, they can swell and cause the surface to come unglued. A simple sandwich bag can prevent this, but it’s always better to watch a weather forecast and try to prepare for these conditions. If I know that rain is forecasted, all of the custom wood calls are left at home and I go out with a plastic pot, Zink Thunder Ridge aluminum friction call. I take several different strikers that run when wet (carbon, plexiglass, aluminum) to use on this call, and because the surface is aluminum, it does not absorb moisture. As for a box call during the rain, some companies offer calls that claim to “run when wet” that have been dipped in a waterproof coating, and I keep one of these handy for such occasions. These calls are fairly inexpensive and I have found that some yelp extremely well when wet or bone dry. If I know rain is forecasted, I primarily call on a mouth call, but the added volume of friction calls can often be useful to cut through the rain to locate or work a gobbling bird.

Conditioning your friction call is one of the most important parts of getting the right sounds from your call at the right time during hunting situations. You do not want to have a gobbler to be hung up just over the ridge with you needing to condition the surface of your slate call for clucks and purrs. If he can hear you scratching in the leaves, he can hear you sanding that call. I always start out my day conditioning the surface of my calls and strikers before I ever leave the truck. Depending on the moisture in the air and the frequency of calling, I may need to do this quite often while hunting. To make this task easier, I keep a string with a couple of pieces of scotchbrite and a couple of pieces of sandpaper of different grits, tied to my friction call case. This simple creation keeps the conditioning pads close at hand for quick use so that I do not have to dig through my vest for a piece of sandpaper. Between hunting setups and as often as needed when trying to locate a gobbler, I sand the surface and striker tips to keep them as fresh as possible. Conditioning the striker and surface of a pot style call makes the two surfaces that are rubbing together more coarse or abrasive. As you call, the friction made between the objects produces the sound, hence the name “fricition call.” By keeping your calls conditioned, you are maintaining roughened surfaces that will produce the friction needed to make true turkey sounds. In addition to sandpaper and scotchbrite, some other useful items to put in your vest are conditioning stones and chalk. I have found that conditioning stones work much better to roughen the surface of a glass or crystal surface than using sandpaper alone. I often times roughen the surface with the stone first and then finish it off with a fine grit sandpaper. This really allows for the striker to “grab” to the surface to produce clucks, cutts, yelps, etc. Last but not least to keep in your vest for friction call conditioning would be sandpaper. A box call can be a great call to locate and work tight lipped gobblers, but if you do not have some chalk to condition the lid with periodically, you are not producing the best sounds achievable from your call.

These are just a few tips to help you care for and condition some of your friction calls. These tips may not work on all calls, and may not be the best for all situations. I am always trying to learn more tips and tactics to make hunting simpler and more successful. I hope that these tips will do that for you in some of your hunting affairs as well!

Terence Williamson
2 X Yellville National Friction Champion, 2013 World Championship 1st Runner Up – Two Man Team, 2 X 1st Runner Up – NWTF Grand National Calling Championships, 5 X Alabama State Champion, and Prostaff Member for Zink Calls & Avian X Decoys, Patternmaster, HeviShot Ammunition, Mossy Oak Brand Camouflage, Ol’ Tom Technical Turkey Gear

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