Joey Rose peered into the still dark early morning woods and sent out an owl hoot, and the forest sent him a response.
“Gobble, gobble, gobble,” sounded out a lusty old tom turkey in response. Rose was standing in the dark with his sister Jessica Schultz and they quickly moved towards their set up location to respond.
“We were in an area where turkeys always seem to roost and they were right where they were supposed to be,” said Rose. “The birds were two or three hollows over so we got set up in a good place and I yelped a couple of times and they cut me off.”
Rose thought there was only one tom at first but, as things got heated up, he soon realized there was more than one. As the gobblers got fired up and belted out gobble after gobble in response to his sweet love talk, He got even more excited.
Rose continued working the birds with his favorite yelps and clucks and they just kept coming towards the duo, cutting him off each time he started yelping.
“We were trying to get a bird for my sister Jessica and things were really getting heated as the birds were getting revved up,” Rose said.
Turns out, there were three gobblers answering Rose’s seductive yelps, and when the birds appeared the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
“I looked across the woods and there came three long beards all making a beeline to us,” he said, adding that only one of the birds was strutting, but all three were all bearing down and closing fast.
“You could see the strutter coming through the woods straight towards us,” said Rose.
The boss gobbler was on a mission and kept right on strutting his stuff for the seductive hen that he was hoping to find. By now the birds were on fire and belting out gobbles at the slightest sound.
Appearing over the last rise the coal black monarch seemingly floated on air as he came on undeterred. He was committed and not wavering in the least. The multicolored feathers shown bright as the sun reflected off the gobbler’s breast feathers. A flaming red and white head was topped off with just a tint of blue as the enraged bird bore down on their position.
As the king of the woods strutted into range, with his companions flanking him on each side, Rose could stand it no longer.
“Shoot the strutter, shoot the strutter,” he whispered to his sister. “You always want to shoot the strutter because he’s the dominant bird.
Turkeys flew away flapping, flopping and sending all manner of noise through the woods. When the dust cleared young Jessica had harvested her first gobbler and a time of celebration was in hand.
“I was so excited I could hardly stand it,” said Rose. “And the best thing about calling the gobbler was that I called him up with a call I’d made myself. That really made it even more special.”
Rose, of Meridian, has been making his own turkey calls for several years now and he has learned to make calls that do the job.
“Each one of mine is different, no two are alike, but they’ll call up an old gobbler for sure,” said Rose. “It really gives me satisfaction knowing that I made the call and was able to call a bird in with it. Calling my sister’s first bird made it all the more special.”
Rose makes an assortment of calls for all types of situations, including a slate, glass and friction call. If you want to make that old bird talk to you and reveal his location Rose even makes a crow call and owl hoot call.
“If you can make a call and kill one with it there’s just nothing like it,” Rose said.
Rose’s typical set up
“Most of the birds around here don’t gobble late in the afternoon when they go to roost, so I just get up before the crack of dawn and get to my listening spot before sunrise,” said Rose, who doesn’t risk getting too close to the birds. He’ll get close enough to their normal roosting spot to hear them before moving in and setting up.
“If I don’t hear a bird I’ll try to shock them into gobbling with my owl call,” Rose said. “If they gobble from the roost, or in response to my owl hooting, I’ll move in and set up as close as possible.”
Normally Rose will set up in a location where he has a clear view of the area all around his position so that he won’t be surprised if a gobbler tries to circle and come in from behind, or either side. Once Rose sets up, he givez them just enough to keep them interested.
“I like to give them some light yelps and clucks and see what happens,” he said. “If they respond and start coming I’ll let them come on in. If they get stalled I’ll give them some more yelps and see what happens.”
Once they get to within about 80 yards Rose sets his call down and starts looking for a killing shot.
“I like to let them get within 30 yards or so, good shotgun killing range, before pulling the trigger,” he said. “If you can call an old gobbler within 25 to 30 yards you’ve really done something.”
Playing the field
“Some of the hardest birds to hunt are field toms,” said Rose. “The older they get the tougher they are to call and kill. Sometimes desperate circumstances call for desperate measures, or different strategies.”
“If I’m hunting a bird that flies into the field everyday then I’ll use a strutting decoy. One day I put out a strutting decoy and sent out some sweet love yelps across the field with my favorite slate call.”
Once the old gobbler head Rose’s sweet love calls and saw that strutting decoy it was all over. The enraged gobbler burned it up coming across the field to do battle with his adversary.
“That bird went to tearing into the decoy and really gave him a whipping,” Rose said. “I don’t like to shoot a strutting tom so I wanted him to stick his head up. When I clucked he stopped just long enough to run his head and neck out there and I shot him.”
For more information of Rose’s calls, contact Joey Rose at (601) 479-0087, or on Facebook: Joey’s Custom Calls.