Rarely does just one turkey call work on every gobbler every time. Even the call that I rely on the most, singularly because it has been the top producer over the last 15 years, does not always fool a gobbler.

For that reason, savvy turkey hunters will always carry along a variety of calls offering the flexibility to change strategies as the hunt unfolds.

Start slow

"Every time I sneak into turkey woods, I always start my calling at the most basic level," said world-champion caller Preston Pittman. "Never begin a hunt by blasting a call at a gobbler when such aggression may not be necessary.

"Many a gobbler has been coaxed to within gun range by a nice slow or medium cadence series of yelps. So save your most vibrant calling for times when a stubborn gobbler hangs up, or maybe gets locked down tending to a harem of hens. You can always add more advanced and more excited calls later.

"Naturally I carry several different calls with me any time I go turkey hunting. Sure that's my business, but even more importantly to me, every hunt is just like starting all over as if it were my very first turkey hunt. I still get that excited even after all these years.

"My hunting shirt pockets will have several single- and double-reed mouth calls, along with several notched in special ways to make specific types of yelps or clucks or other types of calls I have learned over the years.

"Then my turkey bag or vest will carry a couple of different types of wooden box calls along with a few types of pot calls with either slate, some type of synthetic or metal surfaces. I also often carry more than one striker stick in order to maximize my calling options. Sometimes one call is enough, sometimes it may take them all."

Pittman often uses a variety of calls in combination.

Ramp up

"One season several years ago, I got obsessed with a particular gobbler that would always gobble on the roost, then hit the ground to gobble several more times, then do one of two things," Pittman said. "Early in the season after he hit ground from the roost, he would gobble, but turn and fade off into the opposite direction. I took that to mean he already was in the presence of several hens.

"The tough part was there was a wide, deep creek between us that I couldn't easily wade across. However, later in the season, after the hens had left to do their nesting duties, this same gobbler would eventually come off the roost and slowly stroll over to the edge of the creek and strut up and down, back and forth. Several days I was able to watch this dance, but do nothing but entice him to gobble more and more. He was not coming across the creek.

"I had worked on this gobbler using a series of traditional tactics, and while they continued to work to sustain his interest that something of interest was across the creek, the gobbler was not willing to pitch across to investigate it firsthand. It was time to ramp up my strategy.

"Trying again, I slipped in earlier than usual and crept as close to the creek bank as I dared. At daylight, the tom started in as usual. First I used a slate pot to make the slightest of yelps just to announce my presence. As soon as he hit the ground, I began to back up. The woods were in full green up now, so this was possible, but of course, it would be more difficult to hear and see him as well. In short order, he was moving to the creek.

"By now I was probably 40 to 50 yards back from the creek. With the thick foliage dampening my calls, I eased out my small box call, and called again just a few times. Then I took out a favorite mouth call, and played one off the other, building the calls into a sort of frenzy. I tried to make it sound like an old dominant hen was scolding a young hen. Now the gobbler was making double and triple replies. I was definitely working on his mind this time.

"The combo of the mouth call and the box did the trick. The next audible noise I heard was the batting of wings and a landing-male yelp call. He had finally pitched across the creek. I laid down the box and switched my mouth call to one that makes a very faint yelp that I might or might not need. After all, he had pegged my position.

"Oh, I got my gun, nicknamed 'Feed the Family' up on my knees. Within minutes, a red head was slowly bobbing my way. He came into view in just a patch of clearing, and I ended the saga of yet another 'impossible' gobbler. I never had to call again. It was one of the most rewarding turkey seasons ever. And it was having access to multiple calls on the spot giving me lots of immediate options that made the difference."

Using turkey call combos is a best-bet tactic to deploy against any gobbler. Pick at least two calls of every type, and learn their use well. Practice in the woods on live gobblers using a variety of calls and calling strategies noting what produces results. Then when a really bad boy comes along, you can play with his mind, a la Preston Pittman.