NWTF: Can Turkey Hens Gobble?

Is the "gobbling hen" a modern old wives' tale, or is it something you may actually see and hear?

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posted on March 16, 2024

Did you hear the one about the turkey hunter who saw a hen gobble? It was a friend of a friend's cousin and it happened in Canada, you wouldn't know him. If you're getting a little skeptical right about now, that's healthy. There are a lot of old wives' tales in the world of guns and hunting (even if most of them didn't originate with women or wives at all). When you're out there in the woods taking aim, it's very important to be certain of what you're shooting. Thing is, the one about the gobbling hen is actually true.

As the National Wild Turkey Federation's regular "Ask Dr. Tom" feature indicates, wildlife biologists see and hear some things that many hunters can only whisper about. "It isn't a very good gobble," he allows, "it's pretty sloppy, but it does occur." And sure enough, this video captures some distinctive hen gobbles. 

It appears that if a hen is going to gobble, she'll do it when she feels the need to be extra aggressive. Dr. Eriksen (aka "Dr. Tom") reports that he's only seen and heard it a few times, and that the most notable time was when he was making calls that mimic a poult (turkey chick) in distress. This is an important thing for a turkey hunter to know, and it underlines how absolutely critical it is to be sure of your target before you pull the trigger. Never, ever shoot at a sound! For more tips, be sure to check out NWTF's channel!

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