Cicadas can be considered a friend to poultry

By Shirley Grenoble

For the Mirror

Jeff Mulhollem, editor of the magazine “Outdoors News,” suggested in a recent issue that turkey hunters will have a bonus treat in fields that will draw turkeys: Cicadas.

They are a favorite food for the birds but only show up once every 17 years or so and this is the year. They could be, Mulhollem suggests, a big boost to the survival of the poults in a year when population numbers have been declining. So in the mid-season it will pay dividends to set up beside fields and wait for them to show up.

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Another thing I always do is after using any calling device — box, friction or diaphragm — I always change them up. Returning to favorite fields or woods spots and using the same pitch and rhythm as you did the week before often works against you.

You can also carry one particular call that I use only when you’re desperate, times when you have worked a gobbler for an hour. He answers your calls but does not move toward you. That’s the time to pull out a really different sounding call than he’s heard before and try it. You can use calls such as a wingbone, a very raspy mouth call or a high-pitched slate call. The late, great hunter Ben Rogers Lee used to pick up a blade of grass and string it between his fingers and blow on it and make a pleading love-yelp that drove gobblers crazy. I never got the knack of perfecting that call. The point is: do something different when things get difficult.

Find something to do

When it is nearing the end of the season, hens will wander off to go to their nests to lay eggs. Abandoned gobblers get lonely and their hormones are still jingling so late morning, or mid-afternoon if it is the all day season,will be the time to throw out some pleading yelps.

He will hear them. Give him the drawn-out purrs and whines that will hurry him along. He does not want you to get away. Do not offer up a series of yelps that the same rhythm and velocity every time. Real hens vary their calls and a constant barrage of calls coming in exactly the same rhythm and tone every time will make him suspicious. Turn your head/hands in various directions when you call so it sounds as if the calls are coming from various directions, as though you are walking around.

One thing that many hunters have not yet really caught hold of is this: If a gobbler answers your calls in the early morning but walks away from you, it is usually because he already has a hen or two with him, or he knows where he can meet up with them, and that is where he is going.

A key thing to realize is that if he gobbled back to your calls, yet walked away, later that morning, about 10:00 or so, when those hens he first chased after have left him, he will remember where he heard the hen earlier. Often, he will make his way back to the area he left and will look for her or you.

When he gets close to where he heard the hen that morning, he may let out a gobble. Then you answer him and the fun begins. I do not over call at that point, just once in awhile, enough to keep him interested. Play hard to get a little bit.

So return to the spot where he rejected you in the early morning and wait patiently until he remembers you. So added tactics like a return to your original setup spot, carrying different sounding calls and being ultra-patientand watchful could pay off big. And definitely scout for those cicadas.


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