Photo by Larry Proffitt Fall/Gregg Powers

Larry Proffitt with his fall gobbler

Call up a fall gobbler

No dogs. No decoys. No problem.

 

Story and photos by Gregg Powers

Larry Proffitt travels light in the fall. All he needs are a few mouth calls, a couple of his trusty trumpet yelpers and his shotgun.

This member of the Tennessee Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame and NWTF Grand National Calling Contest judge never uses decoys or dogs in the turkey woods. He relies on scouting and skill. And he has some advice for you.

Practice

“You have to do your homework before you try to call up a fall gobbler,” Proffitt said. “Learn to make gobbler and jake yelps, jake kee-kee runs and gobbler clucks. Get a copy of Denny Gulvas’ video about fall turkey hunting and Lovett Williams’ ‘Real Turkeys’ tape on fall calling, or find a good turkey hunter who will teach you the right sounds to make.”

Shoot your gun

“Get good enough with your turkey gun to shoot a decent round of trap with it,” Proffitt said. “Switching my turkey gun to a full choke for trap shooting helped me tremendously in the fall turkey woods. I like to eat turkeys rather than watch them run or fly away.”

Hunt where the turkeys are

“Don’t be afraid to hunt in a place where you have only seen hens and young birds,” Proffitt said. “Your calling may attract gobblers you didn’t know were there. Find them and try calling them to you rather than scaring them into the next county.”

When you find the birds, don’t leave.

Safety tips for fall turkey hunters

The fall season demands a few special precautions. While hens and gobblers are typically legal for harvest in the fall, don’t let that cloud your judgment when it is time to pull the trigger.

Always be sure of your target, and make sure it is a wild turkey and not a fellow hunter or other animal.

Scattering birds by running toward them while yelling is a common fall tactic, but never run with a loaded gun.

Just like in spring, never wear red, white or blue where they can be seen. Use total camouflage, and sit against a large tree or rock wide and tall enough to shield you from hunters approaching from behind.

If another hunter approaches your setup, call out in a loud, clear voice. Make sure your presence is acknowledged before you move. Never wave to alert another hunter of your presence.

Remember that in many states, deer and fall turkey seasons may be open together. Some states require hunters wear orange during the fall.

Whether required or not, wearing a safety color while fall turkey hunting is a good idea, especially when moving from one location to another. At first glance, hunter orange may be confused with a gobbler’s red head, so be sure to correctly identify your target.

“Find the ideal spot to build a good blind in the area,” he said. “Have confidence in your calling and stick it out as long as you can. If there is a lot of sign, you will have a hard time making me leave before 5 p.m. in the winter.”

Call in fall

“You can easily find the correct ways to call fall gobblers from experienced authors and hunters,” Proffitt said.

“My methods work for me, and I know I need to call differently depending on the situation. For example, two gobblers scattered are harder to call than eight scattered gobblers. The two gobblers are more nervous.”
For nervous gobblers, Proffitt starts his fall calling routine with a gobbler cluck.

“Sometimes I do that on a wingbone call as soon as I’m in a good blind,” he said. “Then I listen for five minutes. If a gobbler clucks, I’ll cluck right back at him. If nothing responds, I’ll cluck louder after five more minutes. After 30 minutes, I gobbler yelp a few times with a mouth call, and then go into gobbler kee-kee runs on a trumpet call. If he answers, I won’t shut up until I see his head within range. I try to convey the idea that I’m desperate. A lot of the time it works but sometimes it doesn’t. Like Tom Kelly said, ‘Hell, it isn’t supposed to be easy.’”