If Marshall Collette of Greensboro strung together all the beards from the turkeys he’s killed or called in for other hunters on a piece of rawhide, you could probably use it to measure for first downs in a football game.
So when North Carolina’s season opens on April 11, Collette will, shall we say, be looking to gain extra yardage.
Collette, a member of the Mossy Oak and Quaker Boy pro staffs from Greensboro, spends countless days in the woods during spring gobbler seasons in states all over the country, hunting, and calling birds for other hunters or for hunting videos.
To say that he has a pretty good idea what it takes to kill a nice gobbler would be an understatement.
And when it comes to calling, he believes that “less is more.”
Collette might try to get a tom to gobble on the roost by using a locator call like an owl or crow, but that’s all until the bird hits the ground.
Yelping at a roosted turkey, he said, often results in that gobbler staying on the roost an extended period of the time as it waits for the hen to appear.
But when he hears a gobbler fly down, the first thing Collette wants it to hear is him calling.
“When you hear him hit the ground, you want to let him know you’re there,” he said.
Collette usually starts with some soft clucks, often from a simple push-pin call. If the gobbler answers, he might respond by clucking or yelping, depending on the gobbler’s mood.
He might switch over to a friction call — a slate or glass call — and he’ll call loud enough to see if the gobbler is interested.
“It takes only one call to kill a turkey,” he said, “but you need to be able to cluck, yelp and purr.”
If the gobbler responds, he’ll work the bird, but he’ll tone down the volume of his calling as the bird approaches — and he shuts up completely when he thinks the bird is almost in range.
“When you’re calling a turkey, you’re reversing nature,” Collette said. “The hen usually comes to him; you’re trying to make him come to you. He’s going to come as far as he think he needs to — to where he should be able to see his girlfriend — and then he’ll stop.
“If a turkey hangs up out there, out of range, it’s often because you called too loud. The closer he gets, the quieter you call. Most hunters want to call until they can see him, then shut up. I want to quit calling before I see him, and I don’t want to see him until he’s in range.”
Collette said a turkey’s eyesight borders on incredible, especially when it comes to detecting even the tiniest bit of movement anywhere out to a hundred yards or more.
“A turkey’s eyesight is so good, he can see you change your mind,” Collette joked.