published Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Eye trains his ears on wild turkeys

by Dan Cook

Turkeys communicate year-round, veteran caller Ray Eye says. That’s important to remember in trying to imitate their sounds to help in hunting them.

“The basic thing I teach everybody is to listen to the calls,” Eye said at the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation convention in Nashville. “What you want is reaction — turkey to turkey. If turkeys didn’t call each other, they wouldn’t survive.”

Some successful hunters, such as Eddie Salter, prefer a particular call — perhaps one to which they have added a touch of their own ingenuity to produce a more enticing pitch. Salter developed a call with a squealing sound that has proved productive. It brought up 10 of 17 turkeys when his group was hunting in Nebraska.

Eye hosts the television show “Eye on the Outdoors” and was chosen Missouri’s Conservation Communicator of the year for 2010. He communicates as well with people as he does with wild turkeys.

With the birds as with seminar or TV audiences, the well-traveled sportsman is consistent in his approach.

“Whether it’s Alabama, New York or Mexico, I call them all the same,” he said. “Does it work all of the time? No. Nothing works all of the time. But consistently you’ll kill more turkeys if you’ll get on a turkey call.”

Eye long has gone out of his way to find feeding and roosting places of the turkeys in particular areas.

“If they fly from the field to roost in the late afternoon, you had better be there setting up for them the next morning,” he said. “I’m not talking about bumping and scaring turkeys. I like to work them up in the afternoon and be there the next morning.”

Tennessee’s turkey season runs through May 16. Alabama’s ends on April 30, Georgia’s on May 15.

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