Hunting turkey gobbler requires a powerful shotgun, camouflage clothing from head to toe, and musical inclination.
In late spring, male turkeys feverishly respond with a song when hearing the clucking noise of the turkey hen. The key to bagging a gobbler is a skill familiar to musicians of woodwind instruments such as the oboe, saxophone or clarinet.
A paper and plastic reed device (sold in most hunting supply stores) is placed atop the tongue. Hunters, by controlling airflow from the windpipe across the top of the tongue and roof of the mouth, are able to simulate the chirping cluck of the turkey hen.
Gobblers, as with almost all other mammalian and avian species, are highly competitive in the race to claim a mate. Avid hunters enter cool, damp forrests with painted faces. They hunt with hollow, rubber tube devices that are shaken like maracas. The noise made with these rubber instruments is nearly identical to the real cry of the turkey gobbler. Gobblers make this noise when in a competitive rush to mate with hens. Hunters, by gobbling with these devices with skill only acquired from years of careful study of the bird’s call, often cause these cautious, land loving feathered creatures to rush on webbed foot into the path of a barrel of a gun, one often hidden behind a canopy of thorns and briars.
Hunters with patience to remain motionless for hours, may, if skilled at making the turkey hen clucking noise, attract a gobbler. When desperate at calling in male turkeys with a reed, hunters will often use the gobble device.
The Wild American Turkey has vision equivalent to the American Bald Eagle. Often these national treasures will spot a well-camouflaged hunter before the hunter has the time to remove a safe switch on a gun. The competitive cry of the gobble is nearly irresistible to a cock strong gobbler.
Wild turkeys, unless simmered for hours in white wine and rosemary are not good for eating. A heavy garlic taste is common in the meat of turkeys harvested on the East Coast. These land-based birds enjoy a healthy diet supplemented with wild garlic that is common in the foothills of the Piedmont.
Hunters enjoy the sport of hunting the bird that Ben Franklin once proposed to be America’s national symbol. The beard that grows on the long throat of the gobbler is used for witchcraft and bragging rights.
Although the meat and feathers are wasted by hunters, often turkey beards, judged by length and thickness, are secured on rusty nails above doorways to homes.
Hunters of the great black bird say the gobbler beard brings peace upon a home.