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When talking turkey, silence is golden

BY Randy Zellers

ON 03-22-2023


March 22, 2023

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK — Famous waterfowl hunter and outdoor writer Nash Buckingham once said, “A duck call in the hands of the unskilled is one of conservation’s greatest assets.” If he would have been bitten as badly by the turkey-hunting bug as he was ducks, he likely would have doubled down on this statement in reference to the all-American game bird. Most turkey hunters walk through the woods with hunting vests full of various slates, scratch boxes and mouth diaphragms to fit any situation, but veterans of the turkey woods know it’s better to keep those calls in your pocket until the time is right.

Brad Young isn’t just the colonel of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Enforcement Division, he’s as die-hard a turkey hunter as you’re likely to cross paths with. Having been introduced to the chase for wild turkeys by his grandfather at the age of seven, Col. Young has had more than enough experiences in the turkey woods to know a quiet walk through the woods can be more productive than a morning blasting locator calls and other noisemakers.

“I don’t even bring a locator call with me,” Young said. “There are plenty of things that will make a gobbler sound off without me adding to it and maybe tipping him off that something isn’t right in the woods.”

AGFC Col. Brad Young with turkey
Young’s quiet attitude is reflected in his calling when he does start to draw a gobbler to him. Instead of hammering down on a box or trying to talk a turkey’s ear off, he starts the morning with some soft, hesitant hen sounds.

“Take that bird’s temperature with some soft yelps or clucks,” Young said.

The natural order of turkey breeding is for the hens to come to the gobbler, so hunters are already trying to put up the front of a female who’s playing hard to get.

“If he fires right off the bat, maybe you can get a little more aggressive, but sounding a little too eager can be a red flag to him that something is off.



Arkansas’s regular 2023 turkey hunting season opens April 17.

Hunter with bird
AGFC Col. Brad Young has been chasing turkeys for more than 30 years.


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