Practice Makes Adequate

Outside of rabbits, coyotes, and some small furbearers there are no open seasons currently on the go here in southwestern Ontario, and it has likewise taken a bitter turn to the cold side of winter.

We’d been spoiled with warmth for too long, I suppose.  I hope the deer and the turkeys benefited from the unusually mild and un-snowy winter and have stored up energy for the next six or eight weeks.
For my part though, I hope to get out for a weekend in March to call up some coyotes on the Bruce Peninsula and enjoy some good times with the guys.  I really should plan it and put it in my calendar, because having a family and working for a living is leaving less and less time for road trips.  I’ve got a cousin that hunts near the Barrie area as well…I must remind myself to convince my spouse that we need to visit her parents in the next few weeks.
So what does one do when weather, the exigencies of career and family, and closed seasons render hunting a non-option?  Well if you’re like me, you tinker with gear and you practice.  Now I have a whole post prepared about tinkering with gear, but this one is about the latter pastime: practicing.
Now some hunters practice at the gun range.  This option is not for me for two reasons.  First, there isn’t a suitable range anywhere near me…at least not one I know of.  Second, and more importantly, I shoot just adequately enough (read: terribly) and I am pretty sure that no amount of practice will make me better (read: will likely just wreak havoc on my self-esteem).  So no trips to the gun range for me.
Other hunters hit the woods and scout, cut trail, and generally familiarize themselves more intimately with the terrain and geography of their preferred hunting locales.  This is something I have been doing a little bit of as I’ve been popping out now and then to the local county forests in the hopes of finding some ‘honey-hole’ that no one else knows about.  No such luck yet, and gauging by the number of other boot tracks I’ve seen, many other locals have the same idea.
So that leaves me with practicing my calling, a hobby that I truly relish.  Lately I’ve been down honing my craft in the realms of coyote calling and turkey calling.  This past Christmas I made off like a bandit with some new calls and my basement has been filled with all manner of racket. 
From my brother I received a 3-pack of coyote calls, and I can say without question that everyone in the house (except me) hates these things.  The calls each have a different level of rasp & volume, but they share the trait that they all make the unholiest of noises.  My wife cringes, my son puts his hands over his ears and shouts at me to stop, and my wife’s cat loses her mind and begins literally climbing the walls.  I can’t say that I ‘like’ the sounds myself, but they do sound good (which is an entirely relative concept when it comes to rabbit and rodent distress calls).  I really want to test them out on some coyotes.
But the figurative holy grail that I seek all winter is the opening of turkey season, and the good thing about my holy grail, is that I eventually find it every year.  But before I get there, I sit in my basement, watch turkey hunting videos, and practice my calling.  This year I scored a three-pack of mouth calls from Woodhaven Custom Calls at Christmastime and all I can say is “wow”.
I’d heard great things around the internet about Woodhaven calls, and having tried mine out for a couple of very noisy weeks, I agree with all the good I’ve heard.  As mouth diaphragms go, I’ve been using what one internet forum user called “production” calls…basically the ones the big name companies like Hunters Specialties, Knight & Hale, or Primos would make.  These are all quality call companies, but having used calls from all of them I can agree that the mouth calls do seem a bit mass-produced and not particularly unique.  Absolutely worth using, but not quite to the par that I’ve found the Woodhaven calls to be.  I find these new calls do seem to require a little more air control to run, which probably is not for everyone, but once I was able to get the air flow down I fell in love with these calls.  A more thorough review may be forthcoming, I’m still getting the hang of purrs and and kee-kees down with these, but still absolutely top drawer calls.  The cuts and yelps these things churn out are dag-nasty, and they cluck so realistically and easily that I’m unlikely to buy any other mouth calls for a good long time.
But all the practice in the world probably won’t cure my desire to over call, call too loud, and then be unable to sit still long enough to have any turkey hunting (or coyote hunting) success.
But still hopes springs eternal so here I sit, tapping away at a computer with a Woodhaven Red Wasp betwixt cheek and gum, trying to get the purr down and working on my tree call.  My wife says I’m sick, and I’m just starting to believe her.

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