Eddie Salter purred lightly, clucked - and two gobblers stretched their necks way out, searching for the sweet-talking hen that was hidden just out of sight.

Tick-boom!

Two shotguns roared in unison as both birds bit the dust simultaneously, and Salter's guiding prowess paid off in just a few minutes for his clients.

Sometimes it's fast and furious like that, but late in the season that might be the exception rather than the rule.

Just a day later, Salter was back on the hunt to locate another turkey. The two-time world champion turkey caller knows a thing or two about locating and calling late-season birds.

However, he was facing a challenge to find another tom during the midday hours, which is not always an easy thing to do.

"I was walking and calling - 'yelp, yelp, yelp' - when suddenly an old tom cut me off and belted out a thunderous gobble," Salter said. "We set up pretty quick, and I was convinced he was coming right in as he answered me and seemed excited right from the start."

Every time Salter called, the old bird gobbled. But he never got any closer.

"I worked that bird for about an hour, and he was real responsive, but he just never would come," Salter said.

Salter gave him everything he had, but it wasn't quite enough. So the hunters called it a day.

The next day Salter was back in the woods hunting with a friend about 25 miles from the prior day's hunting location when he realized he'd left his call back in the woods at home.

"After we got through hunting there, I went back to the area where I'd left the call the day before and started walking down an old logging road just yelping and calling," he said. "I walked right in to where I'd left my call the previous day, and called and the old bird gobbled at me.

"Once I found the call I looked down at it and called again, and he gobbled at me, so I sat down right there. In a few minutes the old gobbler walked right straight to me, and I pulled the trigger and it was all over."

And some old birds are just like that Salter said.

A chess game

Veteran turkey hunter and guide Lee Garvin sent out a few soft, seductive tree yelps - and an old gobbler cut loose about 75 yards away.

Garvin was playing hard to get, and the gobbler was really torn up but didn't immediately come in. The standoff came to a sudden halt, however, as two other suitors came into view, intent on getting in on the action.

"When that gobbler spotted those other birds coming toward him, he broke strut and came right to me," Garvin said.

In seconds, Garvin was staring down the barrel of his shotgun. He squeezed off a round just as the bead covered the bird's red head.

"Turns out this was the oldest, if not most dominant bird, in the area," the hunter said. "No doubt by the looks of his spurs and beard."

The gobbler weighed in at 23 pounds, 6 ounces, had 1 ¼-inch spurs and five beards.

"But, actually, I harvested the other birds later - and they turned out to be 2 and 3-year-olds that were definitely lesser birds," he said.

Garvin believes in calling only as much as the situation dictates, as well as giving the bird what he wants.

"Each bird is different, so I like to hold back and give him just enough and let him make his move and tell me what he wants," he said. "I'll play it close to the vest until the bird shows his hand, and I'll respond accordingly.

"During the late season, a lot of the birds that are left are the more-mature, savvy birds that've already heard a lot of calling and maybe even been shot at a time or two, and that makes for challenging hunting. So usually I'm working wise old toms who aren't so easily fooled into coming in like their early season counterparts."

Garvin can play a sweet tune on a mouth call or friction call, but prefers to keep it simple during the late season.

"I like the subtle calls like a seven- to eight-note, low yelp or cluck and leaf scratching is one of the most dangerous calls in any arsenal," Garvin noted. "When the birds have been harassed and chased and constantly disturbed, they'll even become call shy - and that's why I like to tone it down.

"Sometimes just sending out a quiet yelp and occasional scratching of the leaves is all it will take to entice a call-shy gobbler."

He has relies on a couple of calls to help him keep things on a soft note.

"I prefer a mouth call like a Woodhaven three-reed V invert cut or a Straight Creek Slate to keep it quiet when calling to battle-tested gobblers," Garvin said. "I prefer the mouth call because it requires no movement to yelp and cluck, but I also like that slate to purr on."

A hunter must be camouflaged to meet their surroundings and Garvin utilizes an assortment of Mossy Oak Camo from different periods and styles to blend into his surroundings.

It's kind of like a game of chess with late-season birds, and Garvin will set up the table and see what the gobbler's first move will be.

"I'll set up first thing and move as dictated by the king, but the last thing I want to do is bump the bird," Garvin said. "I'll move and reposition as needed, as he may go left, right or in the opposite direction.

"I'll move as needed - and if that means crawling on my belly, knees or lying down, I'll do it."

We made several such chess moves when hunting with Garvin last spring near Union Springs, Ala. While we were calling to one bird, another one answered our calls and started heading our way, gobbling every other breath from across a road.

We made several calls and moves, and finally ended up on the side of an old logging road backed up into some small saplings, where Garvin sat with his knees up, serving as a prop for my back.

Our last move proved to be the winning one, as Garvin sent out sweet, seductive yelps and purrs from his mouth call and the Union Springs weedwalker pushed through 9 feet high weeds and emerged directly in front of my Remington shotgun.

As the gobbler's red head popped up, I squeezed the trigger, the shotgun roared and another trophy bird bit the dust.

Check mate.