It’s an argument as old as the sport of turkey hunting, one that sparks a fiery debate whenever it surfaces, which is becoming more frequent with the growth and popularity of high-tech gobbler decoys.

Is the gobble call safe?

It is certainly a call that, in the right situation, can close the deal on even the wiliest of ol’ toms. However, in the wrong situation, such as crowded public lands and even private lands where multiple hunters can be working an area, it is flat out dangerous and should be avoided.

Veteran hunter George Mayfield of Macon describes one such incident that got his attention after accepting an invitation to hunt a new place.

“We got out of the truck and headed to the edge of the woods well ahead of daylight,” Mayfield said. “I had permission to hunt the place so the last thing I expected was to run into another hunter. That was a lesson learned the hard way. 

“We no sooner reached the barbed-wire fence when we heard a gobble. I looked back at the guy I was guiding and a cameraman following him. I motioned the direction we would move. Just 50 yards through the woods was a food plot that turkeys favored.”

Mayfield quickly positioned his team for the hunt.

“I sat the cameraman down first, and then moved the hunter up just ahead of me where we could see into the food plot,” he said. “We heard the gobble again. It was not far off and in the edge of the woods where we sat. Something about it just did not sound right. 

“After a couple of more calls, I got suspicious, so I eased up along the edge of the woods and up jumped another hunter. He started an inquiry as to why I was there. I did the same. I also counseled him without mercy about using a gobble call. He cussed me and departed. We did, too.” 

Mayfield’s story touches close to home — I was the hunter being guided that day. The whole thing scared me.

Using a gobble call without knowing others are around was a mistake. It was dangerous. It’s just not smart turkey hunting.