Jay Bruce, a former tournament crappie professional from Greer, loves to spend his spring chasing gobblers, and he’s taken a number in recent years, especially late in the season.
“In the early part of the season, it’s a whole lot about the hens,” he said. “That’s fun, but later in the season is my most productive time.”
Bruce’s favorite weapon is a simple push-pull box, a call he said most hunters chalk up as too simple to be effective.
“A lot of hunter using friction calls like to get too fancy,” he said. “My dad, Jimmy Bruce, used a simple Chatterbox push-pull call that’s over 30 years old to call in countless gobblers. That’s the same call I use in late season.
“The key is to keep it simple and let the call do what it does best”, he said. “These calls make pitch-perfect purrs and clucks, so that’s how I use them. Then I add what I refer to as an old Indian trick, and that is to make it as realistic as possible. I will run the soft purrs and clucks, then rake the leaves the way a turkey does. I’ve watched many turkeys scratching leaves over the last 30 years, and I’ve seen them typically scratch twice with one foot, pause, and then scratch once with the other. I often use an actual turkey’s foot to enable me to mimic this sound. The final part of the realism trick then is to wait, then wait some more. Late-season turkeys don’t vocalize as much as hunters, so keep it real.”
Bruce believes the infusion of coyotes has caused turkeys to call less anyway.
“Late-season, hard-hunted gobblers will respond to soft calling,” he said. “I move around looking for a bird, then set up when I get his attention. One that Carolyn Reeves killed with me calling took two hours and 38 minutes to work in, but I promise you, it was worth the wait.”