First of all, the language of love has its own vocabulary; its own set of words if you will.

And it's been tough for turkey hunters to figure out.

Scientists, logicians, and all those advocates of purely linear thinking should stay away; way away, or at least leave this auditory ecosphere alone.

Just when we think we've got it all down, once again, not as smart as we think we are.

Turkey hunting, that is calling gobblers by sounding like their hens, may be a frustrating enterprise.

But no doubt it is a humbling sport.

Sure, sometimes only a couple words are all that's necessary.

And yet other times, actually most times, a book of words is not enough.

Those of us who fancy that we own a larger-than-average vocabulary and therefore a better-than-average chance for success are often disappointed.

In the woods loquacity is accompanied by chagrin.

That wise listener, whether he's swaying on a roost limb at the head of a steep hollow, or in full display on the other side of a hidden field, sees through our best art, guile, and sounds.

It may be that the wild tom turkey with his discerning ear picks out the call and says, "That's danger. That's a hunter," or whatever way turkeys converse with themselves or how they mutter under their breaths.

He may shake his head knowingly and say, "Nah, that's no hen turkey - that's a man."

Too much callin', tone isn't right, and she's too loud.

Something is off.

So he shuts up.



That's one scenario, one possibility.

Or maybe the bird simply is not in the mood.

The planets aren't lined up right.

His biorhythm is off.

It's biochemical.

Must be "henned-up."

Or maybe he has other ideas, you know, a turkey plan, hatched in his tiny little brain, about the size of a walnut.

They say that man uses only a portion of his brain, and I would concur from all appearances and experience.

But gobblers must utilize maximum potential, every single neuron and synapse crammed into that tiny skull.

Every other warbler may be singing its fool head off on a given spring morning.

And we say, "Turkey should be gobblin’."

Nary a peep.


Maybe the toms are with their girlfriends and don't want to call any other gobblers...their real competition in.

Yeah, that's it.

But how are we to know?

Once in a while a lot of loud calling actually seems to "wind them up." Gets them excited.

They'll start gobbling, and then gobble and gobble and gobble.

But more often:

The less said, the better.

You know, "a word to the wise is sufficient."

"It's not how much you say, it's what you say."

"You talk too much."

Real turkey hunting is all about calling, not just killing the bird. Woodsmanship and hunting skills are important too.

To successfully "bushwhack" a tom, that is, setting up in a position, like when deer hunting and wait on-stand for one to come through without any calling just doesn’t appeal to me.

Even less, sliding in and "limbing" one that hasn't left the roost yet is void of the excitement and challenge of calling.

Not necessarily easy.

But certainly not sporting.

Birds get bushwhacked. It happens. But a man can spend a lot of time in the woods waiting for a gobbler to walk within range.

When one "sneaks in silently" as we call, that’s different, it's game time.


There is nothing quite like that feeling when a big tom sneaks in silently and slowly appears, or circles and comes up from behind and then, from a few feet away, "GOBBLE-OBBBLE-OBBLE!"

You tell me.

How is it possible for a man, with his back up against a big maple tree, sitting in damp leaves on the forest floor, mind wandering, to actually jump nearly a foot in the air from a sitting position?

That's excitement!

The bird has come in, drawn by the call, attracted by those words of love.

Sometimes, we only get one answer, one gobble, way off.

But he's coming in on the run. And a gobbler can cover a lot of ground quickly when he wants to.

Sit down, right now, get set up.

Quick. Adjust facemask, gloves, get the gun up.

But mostly, we prospect. We call and call, up one hill and down another.

"Yelp, Yelp, Yelp."

Way off..."gobble-obble-obble."

He answered with words of love.

The conversation begins.

Now first, small talk.

Oak Duke writes a weekly column appearing on the Outdoors page.