Among the many passions and hobbies of mine my lovely wife has to endure I am a scuba diver. Way back in 1986 when I was getting my divers certification my older brother, Robbie, who was almost an instructor in scuba, gave me some of the best advice I ever received. “...watch others and learn from their mistakes, diving can kill you, you don't have to almost die to learn how not to.”

Right after I had begun turkey hunting, a trail camera on my deer property indicated I had a huge flock of turkeys in the very back corner of the land. Weeks went by from the time they were photographed until the beginning of the season but I had a solid location as to where they were roosting and that first morning I went straight into them. Well before sunrise I was setting my decoy hen and looking for a spot to sit. At first light I let out my first yelps on my slate call and Tom about scared the bejesus out of me gobbling so loud, for I was leaning against the tree he was perched in. Needless to say he flew away, off of our property, instead of coming to the ground. In my inexperience, a few days later I came in from a different angle and set up further back to “cut him off” in hopes he would be in the same location. At first light I realized he had done the same thing and again, he flew across the property line, out of sight. The next time I got him to gobble that season he was roosting off of my property and would not come to my pleas of hen calling. I learned that season about pushing too hard.

There is nothing wrong with being a little aggressive early in the season but you still have to be smart about it. If I could have that opportunity again I would stay back from that roosting spot about 100 yards or so and get a little persistent with my calling on that first morning. In the first part of the season I like to get a little “loud and proud” so I start with one of two calls. If it's a little windy I will hit a box call at first to really get the sound to carry but if there's no wind I will stick with my preconditioned crystal over slate, double sided call. I like that call because the crystal side can be really bright and loud if I need it to be but I can flip it over and use the slate side for softer calling as the tom approaches.

Finishing is a different thing entirely and I do not use a mouth call. I am one of the weird people who was made in such a way that a mouth call feels like someone is trying to cram three fingers down my throat. I don't know if you have ever seen the episode of TK and Mike turkey hunting when Mike gets the call stuck in his throat... but that's me. (and it's worth looking up) So, I finish using the Final Strut call that is attached to the end of my shotgun during turkey season. It produces fantastic soft purrs and clucks and can be manipulated without any visible movement to an approaching turkey.

Being aggressive and loud is fine at the beginning of the season, just be more prepared than I was and know more about where your turkeys are roosting than I did. You don't have to ruin your chances to learn how not to! (thanks Rob for the advice, it has helped in all aspects of life)