Six years ago I wrote; How to Legally Bait Wild Turkeys. This post generates more traffic than any other article I’ve written on
A quick recap. There are times the turkeys are not on land I can hunt. Does that ever happen to anyone else? In an attempt to alleviate the problem I call from the hunt-able property. Generally, my calling takes place in the evening prior to roost time. Hen cackles seem to work best, a lot of them. Think fly down cackle but we’ll call it fly up cackle. Make them loud but not screaming. Followup with some lost turkey yelps fading into contented purrs. As the sun sets, make a few gobbles listen in between for an answering tom. Most of the time there will be no answer, no matter I start the next morning’s hunt in the area which has been audio baited. Of course, it does not work every time but with wild turkeys what does? However, it works often enough that I use the tactic several times each season.
Interestingly some wildlife technicians have started using an audio baiting strategy to help endangered birds find each or inhabit some suitable habitat that is not being used.
Three examples are:
Wyoming sage grouse where teams are attempting to move the grouse away from energy-producing rigs. Btw, not just oil fields but also wind and solar developments. Activities like these are detrimental to the peacefulness sage grouse require for nesting success.
Northern Oklahoma lesser prairie chickens. WMA managers are using spring mating calls of the chickens to lure them onto WMA land where it is hoped they will have better nesting success than on the area’s working ranches.
Now in Wisconsin, we have, as Lisa Gaumnitz calls it–eHarmony for birds. In her article, A Happy Tune Kirtland’s Warbler Playback Project published in winter 2018 issue of the Wisconsin Resource Magazine Lisa describes the audio calling project of the rare Kirtland’s Warbler. Be sure to click on the above link and read Ms. Gaumnitz entire article. Following are a couple of excerpts.
Every day, three times a day for several hours, a Kirtland’s warbler belts out a love song at the top of its lungs in Bayfield County Forest. Its dawn chorus is not live but a recording that Nick Anich and collaborators are using to lure Wisconsin’s rarest songbird species – a tiny endangered bird with very particular habitat needs – to the forest.
“We’re announcing, the party’s here,” says Anich, a conservation biologist with DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program. “The presence of other individuals at the site during breeding season is one cue, or way, the birds assess the habitat quality of a breeding site.”
For three years he played matchmaker to Kirtland’s warblers, and it has paid off. Starting slowly but building steam, the audio playback has helped males and females find each other and successfully reproduce at sites more than 140 miles from the main breeding area in Wisconsin and more than 300 miles from the species’ core population in Lower Michigan.
Rather than trying to create and manage habitat for a given endangered species where it’s currently or has historically been found, the playback method can attract species to areas where the ownership, land use and habitat management are more conducive to their recovery.
For the most part, I think birds are birds. If audio bait works for turkeys it should certainly work to attract other birds to their own mating calls and vice versa. When your spring season arrives and you have trouble finding a gobbler to hunt try some audio baiting. However, make sure during the season you do your own calling. Calling to wild turkeys using an electronic call is not legal in any state that I am aware of. And is most turkey hunting circles it is considered cheating to use recorded turkey calls.