By RACHEL JACKSON/ THE BAYONETFebruary 25, 2010
Humans talk, and so do turkeys.
"Talking turkey is an art," said Joe Drake, a professional turkey caller.
Hunters use the language to attract turkeys with metal, bone, glass, slate or wooden instruments, named calls, to imitate turkey noises.
"When you call, you are imitating the hen turkey," he said. "It's the mating time of the year, so you are trying to call the male. In reality, a hen turkey will go to the gobbler. When you call one up, you actually reverse nature. They'll come to you because spring is the only time they mate."
The key to turkey hunting is knowing when to call, said the three-time national champion.
"You have to call to the gobbler (male turkey) just right and you have to make sure nothing goes wrong," said the five-time southern open champion. "If you call too much, the (turkey will) figure something out and won't come. If you don't call enough, the turkey will figure 'well, she's not interested.' Every turkey is different. The more calls you know and when to use them, the better chance you have at harvesting them."
From December to turkey season in March, the 60-year-old Fortson, Ga., resident practices talking turkey every day for at least two hours to prepare for turkey calling contests on the weekends.
In competitions, turkey callers must know at least 10-13 turkey calls. They draw five calls randomly and those are the ones they must complete in the competition.
"You can have good days and bad days in this sport," said Drake, who is a turkey calling world champion. "If you draw calls you aren't so great at, you can potentially have a bad day."
Fort Benning folks will have a chance to try and talk turkey when Outdoor Recreation hosts Turkey Talk by Drake at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Uchee Creek. He'll be teaching turkey calls and when to use them. To register for the event, call 706-545-9636.
People have another opportunity to talk turkey at a sanctioned turkey calling contest sponsored by Realtree and the Columbus Firefighters Association at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Columbus Firefighters Association office on Lynch Road in Midland, Ga. The cost for admission is $5 per person. Spectators are welcome.
For more information, go to www.cffalocal4655.org or call Drake at 706-573-6788.