Calling turkeys

This time of year there are many opportunities to photograph wild turkeys.

While they are normally very timid and avoid human contact, the male turkeys have only one thing on their mind in the springtime; female turkeys.  

As a photographer, you can use this season to your advantage and with a little practice you can get them to come right up to you. 

The first thing you will need is a Turkey call.  These can be found at Cabelas Sporting goods, among other hunting outlets.  There is quite a variety in turkey calls, since turkeys respond to different sounds.  This is depending on where you live, and what time of year you are trying to attract the wild turkeys. 

Luckily for me, my brother is an experienced turkey hunter and he had several different calls to choose from and is an expert at creating the precise sounds that get the turkey's motor running.  

The turkey call is in many cases a sounding plate that is scratched with a special wand to mimic the sound of an interested hen turkey. These are not tools that you can just pull out of the box and attract an interested Tom.  These take a little time getting the pressure just right.  However, when you do get the right sound, the turkeys will run right to you. 

I set up my Nikon D4 and 600mm lens along the side of the road, (since I didn't want to have to carry this rig too far.)   My brother started his calling and within seconds we could hear a couple of turkeys make the gobbling sound that there were interested.  A couple of minutes past with a back and forth conversation between the Turkey and the artificial hen call as the bird came closer and closer to check out the sound. 

I was fascinated by how much the color on the bird would change based on his mood.  The face would turn bright blue and his neck would get vibrant red.   In the sunlight the turkey will become an iridescent copper color that is quite magnificent. 

Also interesting was how the bird reacted to us.  Once he saw it was just a couple of dudes with a turkey call, he stopped running towards us, but he kept up the conversation. Shortly after that, the turkey started putting on his display.  Even though he was pretty certain we were weren't interested hens, he kept up the display for quite some time.  Probably just in case a hen happened by. 

Copyright 2015, Terry VanderHeiden