A turkey hunter’s shotgun setup is generally specialized to fit their specific needs and that holds true for Michael, too. He talks about his 22-inch Remington shotgun that hits all the right notes for hunters who chase birds in thick cover, trees, tall grass and dense vegetation like he encounters in the south. While 22-inches may seem pretty short to those who are used to shouldering a 28-30 inch barrel, Michael says there are some really solid benefits to this more compact frame. A short gun is easier to maneuver through the thick landscape without hanging up and easier to swing on birds making their way in to your stand. And for those who worry about performance suffering as result of a shortened length, a longer barrel isn’t required to produce a good pattern. You still get all the performance you need, but in a more compact package that is better able to handle tight spaces. There are several different options when it comes to gauges for turkey hunters – 10, 12, 16, 20 and 410. Michael talks about growing up using a behemoth of a 10 gauge and taking some of his first gobblers with it. However, technology has come a long way and now, lighter gauge guns are able to pump out lethal results, making them every bit as relevant and effective as their larger gauge counterparts. Michael notes that advances in shotshells and heavy weight shot like the new TSS loads allow turkey hunters to take shots up to 50+ yards with lighter weight gauges and still efficiently put gobblers on the ground. More choices that accommodate more hunters are a good thing.
For those who may not be familiar with Michael Waddell’s rise in the outdoor industry, it all started with calling. Turkey calling contests are what opened the door for him to eventually have the platform that he does today. Now, Michael is coming full circle and bringing it back to his roots releasing his own line of Bone Collector Game Calls, offering an extensive selection of turkey calls right now. Michael says this is one of the most exciting things he has done in a long time and talks about the relationships he has built with industry giants in the past that are influencing the way he designs his calls today. After talking with veteran turkey hunters, calling pros and manufacturers, Michael says he was able to assemble a dream team that really understood how to make quality calls. The Bone Collector Game Calls are custom calls that are made in America and something that Michael is incredibly proud of. Not only is it about a fantastic call that sounds good and is effective, but Michael says this is also a chance for him to create something that interjects a fun energy into turkey hunting, something that keeps the fire burning like the legends before him have done.
Available this spring in the Bone Collector line are box calls, pot calls, mouth calls, locator calls and push/pull calls. Michael says that pot calls and friction calls are generally easier to master. Pot calls resemble the best sound of a hen or turkey out there, and they are something that anyone can pick up relatively quickly. While he doesn’t use a lot of pot calls today, he says he still appreciates their realistic sound and the ability a hunter has to make virtually any sound a turkey makes using either slate or glass. Michael says that box calls are good for striking and locating turkeys. He talks about the two different Bone Collector box call options and how they designed them to be affordable and effective for all. For close range work, a box call can lack the subtlety that a mouth call delivers. The movement of the striking paddle on a box call or the striker on a pot call can be a problem as turkeys have very keen eyesight. That’s where the mouth call really shines. Michael says that he uses mouth calls extensively and the hands-free operation they provide as well as the quiet and subtle sounds you are able to produce as turkeys get closer are high points. Many hunters have gone to a strict mouth call only approach, however Michael notes that friction calls are a good way to tune up your mouth calling. Listening to the sound you create on a box call and working to mimic that on your mouth call can help you tone up your technique and the overall sound you produce with a mouth call.
Finally, Michael talks decoys briefly. Noting that he is a fairly aggressive hunter Michael says that he uses about every legal tool in his arsenal to bag spring birds, including decoys. Michael says that a hen decoy typically brings toms in and you’ll find them strutting and displaying around your decoy. In contrast, a jake decoy can cause an aggressive response sending toms in hot and fast trying to run the jake off.
Tune in as Michael Waddell joins The Revolution this week to talk shotguns, gauges, calling, decoying and more! Watch “Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector”, Sundays at 10:30 pm ET and “Booger Bottom USA”, Mondays at 7:00 pm ET, both on Outdoor Channel. You can also find the last 10 seasons of “Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector” with MyOutdoorTV, watch at your leisure!
Get your flop on!