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Turkey call

A raspy slate call can get the gobblers moving in the morning on an early archery turkey hunt.

As the saying goes with turkey hunting, “roosted ain’t roasted.” But following this plan should tilt the odds in favor of the hunter in the opening days of this archery season.

You have the gobblers located and even know the spot from where you want to start your season. Let’s make sure things go smoothly from here.

Pop the blind early: If you will be working out of a ground blind for an early-morning hunt, get it set out and ready the day before, ideally in the early afternoon. This avoids a predawn dance with your pop-up, since blinds are much easier to set up in daylight. It also gives the area, and any birds you bumped, time to settle down before roosting. Be sure to get the blind into the best possible position and make a path to the entrance so you can access the door more discreetly in the dark.

Get close: Early-season turkeys will be grouped tightly together. Getting within 100 yards of the roost is ideal whether hunting old school from the base of a tree or from a blind. Any extra distance between you and them just gives the gobblers more chances to do anything but come to your setup. Get there early, be sneaky and avoid drawing any attention to you until it is time to call.

Decoys aplenty: If you have decoys, bring them. There are not many times better to use a group of turkey decoys than early in the season. Real hens usually are in big groups right now, and if a tom has to choose between your sorry-looking single and a flock of lovely ladies, his decision is simple. Do not go overboard, but a small group with at least one gobbler-fake mixed in to make the real thing jealous will help. Realism in turkey decoys pays off, too.

Use raspy calls: I cannot explain it but for some reason early-season gobblers seem to respond better to raspy hen calls. Box, slate or mouth calls can all get pretty raspy. Go with what you are comfortable with using. However, the edge goes to some of the aluminum or glass-slate calls. They can start soft for turkeys just waking up on a chilly morning. Then get nasty-raspy once the gobblers are hammering away in the sunlight.

The archery season runs March 25 through May 31. Don’t forget to get some pictures, but just remember to cancel your permit first.

Aaron Hershberger is an outdoor education specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Contact him at


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