How To Use A Diaphragm Mouth Call, Clover Food Plots And More! (Episode 384 Transcript)

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JAMES: Do a little owl hooting, huh?

GRANT: You may recall that a couple of weeks ago, my good friend, James Harrison, came down to The Proving Grounds and gave us some tips on how to use locator calls to make turkeys gobble – owl calls, crow calls. And he’s an excellent teacher because he’s the current world champion.

GRANT: But once the tom is located, it’s time to bust out the Hook’s Custom Calls and bring that rascal into shotgun range.

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GRANT: Hey, we’re here today, again, with James and Cody Harrison, world champion turkey callers. And just had a little demonstration of using diaphragm calls through the woods and we didn’t have the shotgun mic in ‘cause we had ‘em both wired, but while they were calling on this cloudy, kind of misty day, not a good turkey hunting day, they fired up a tom on the opposite ridge.

GRANT: Diaphragm or mouth calls can be a little tricky to use. The secret is get one in your mouth right off the start and just get used to having it in there before you try to sound like an expert.

GRANT: James does a great job of telling us how to position the call in the mouth for the best sounds.

JAMES: Basically, you get your call out of the package. You notice you’ve got a horseshoe shape in it. And on all the calls, they’ll be a tab. Now, that tab goes down. So, basically, when you…

GRANT: Feel it with your tongue.

JAMES: …feel it with your tongue. And, basically, when you put this call in your mouth, the horseshoe opening goes out, and, basically, that if this is my tongue, you're setting your call up in the roof of your mouth and you're putting your tongue right in the middle of your tongue, right on that reed.

GRANT: Once you're comfortable with the call in your mouth, it’s time to start making some sounds.

JAMES: You want to get that constant sound. There he was. He’s liking it.

GRANT: I tell you – you boys do this, I’m gonna run over here and – no, it’s not season yet.

JAMES: So, basically, you're getting that sound. Then you want to drop through your tongue a little bit to get that two-note. If they do a yelp. So, you go.

GRANT: One of the basic calls is a two-tone yelp. So, back in the day, my first turkey call I ever purchased was a old box call. And I would slide that old paddle, heeey-yooolk, heeey-yooolk. And I think if we can learn to just make that yelp.

JAMES: Right.

GRANT: That’s the first tool in your bag. So, let’s just walk through how to go from nothing to making a yelp on a diaphragm call.

JAMES: Okay. Basically, again, you're gonna put it in your mouth; you're gonna lay your tongue on it. Now, your high note – your key you're talking about is when you put your tongue up on it and you push air through it and you get that heeey.

JAMES: Now, when you the yooolk part, you're actually dropping your tongue off the call. You're not taking it all the way off the call. But you're dropping your tongue in your jaw to change the pitch of the call. So, actually, you're letting the tension off of that latex to make the sound.

JAMES: So, then you start running that together – making it faster.

GRANT: I know that sounded good ‘cause we were out there on a cloudy, damp afternoon and James and Cody got a tom fired up on the opposite ridge.

GRANT: You probably can't hear this, but there is a tom over here just ripping at this call. And he’s showing you beginner calls. And he’s, you know, he’s stretching out – they're not sounding perfect. And I think this is a important thing.

GRANT: The cadence of just making calls, you don’t have to be a world champion caller. The cadence and location is just as important as getting the tone exactly right.

GRANT: We all want to sound perfect, just for pride and we don’t want to sound bad in front of our buddies. But that cadence and how long to hold the notes and everything is just as important.

JAMES: Some of the best turkeys – hunters in the country that call in competition – them ole hens out in the woods, they sound terrible. And you know what? Them hens are with them gobblers all the time. So you don’t have to be a champion caller.

JAMES: Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. A turkey calls with a certain rhythm just like we talk with a rhythm and they do the same thing – whether they're raspy; whether they're clear; whether they're. I've heard birds that come in and I’m like, “Oh, that’s another guy. He’s walked in on my set up. He’s blown it.” And then all of a sudden, you look up and here comes this ole hen walking through there. And she sounds terrible. But that ole gobbler is just gobbling his head off at it. So, it’s just your rhythms and sounding like a turkey.

GRANT: The yelp can be very effective, but so can the cluck. You also need to master the cluck call.

CODY: So, a cluck is pretty simple. It’s pretty much one sound note. It’s a simple tick. If you can say tick, you can make a cluck. So, on the mouth call, you have your tab down, on the tongue.

CODY: Pretty much always start with your tongue with a little bit of pressure on the reeds. You don’t want too much otherwise it’s gonna go too high pitch. Then, as you say tick and that air moves across your tongue, just drop your tongue off.

GRANT: Man, I like that call. And turkeys cluck all the time. Soft clucks when they're communicating with each other; loud clucks; challenge clucks. You want to really work on a cluck and get the different volumes out so you can use the right one in the appropriate setting.

GRANT: Not only do James and Cody have those world championship trophies, but they're also excellent hunters. This father/son team hunts together a lot and I hunt with other people all the time. So, I wanted them to share some techniques for hunting in a party of two.

JAMES: You know, we’re gonna take it all the way back to when we did the locator stuff. If we’re getting out the first thing in the morning, I get Cody out in front of me or I’m out in front of him. I’ll, I’ll do the owl hooting so he can hear the birds and get ‘em pinpointed. Same when we set up calling into birds. I like to keep our distance about 20, 30 yards in there – 40. Depending on your terrain, but get where you can see each other.

GRANT: Right.

JAMES: That way when we’re calling to each other and calling to that bird, we can actually look at each other and kind of – if we have to make hand gestures or whatever – so we know them birds are coming in and we can – you don’t want to get so far apart that when you're calling, one guy doesn’t know what’s going on.

JAMES: Look at each other when you're calling. One thing that turkeys do is they talk to each other. Just like we’re talking here. They don’t over-talk each other.

JAMES: So, when Cody’s yelping, I kind of wait and I cluck and bit, back and forth, and then I’ll start yelping back and forth to sound like actual two hens communicating with each other when you're doing that. That way, that gobbler he’s not hearing a whole jumble of stuff. He’s hearing, actually, me and Cody communicating with each other and he’s thinking there’s two birds in there and he comes on in that way.

GRANT: Hey, I appreciate y'all coming and sharing some tips. And I look forward to buddy hunting with you, too, but I’ve got a little different strategy. I think I’d probably have you on my left and Cody on my right and I need to cheat ahead about ten yards or so in that set up. (Laughter) No.

GRANT: Hey, we look forward to showing you some of these techniques in turkey woods here in a couple of weeks. But, remember, safety first. When you're budding hunting or hunting by yourself, you never know – even on private land – if there’s another turkey hunter in the neighborhood. And some guys sound really good. So, safety first.

GRANT: I’m constantly learning from James and Cody. And I’m sure they’ll be sharing more techniques with us during Missouri’s turkey season.

GRANT: As the weather continues to be more spring like, the food choices wildlife are selecting continue to change. Here in just the past few days, my observations and our Reconyx cameras have shown the deer have kind of switched from our Broadside plots, which are starting to mature, to our clover plots.

GRANT: Almost all of our clover plots have been converted to Eagle Seed’s blend and there’s no doubt the deer are liking it.

GRANT: Clover is an extremely important part of our wildlife management plan. This time of year, before it’s warm enough to be planting soybeans, clover will often be the preferred browse. Once it gets warmer and drier, clover will go a bit more dormant, but right now, small acreage – like this is a half-acre field – will provide a lot of tons of quality forage for wildlife.

GRANT: This is prime time for clover. It’s coming out of dormancy. Here at The Proving Grounds, we’ve had plenty of rain recently and it’s lush and rapidly growing. Young, rapidly growing clover is very nutritious and very attractive to deer.

GRANT: This clover field was getting a little weak, so a year ago, we over-seeded it with Eagle Seed’s clover blend. And you can tell it’s coming in strong and the deer certainly enjoy it. But, outside the cage, the deer have browsed it so low, that a few annual weeds are coming in. Now, these aren’t a problem; they're gonna flower and die. I’m more worried about grasses or perennial weeds that can be a long term competitor with the clover.

GRANT: The two things that do the most damage to clover stands is weeds and lack of nutrients. I’m not aware of a really good herbicide for clover. There’s some out there, but they don’t do a good job of controlling tough weeds. What we found works best and it’s licensed for this – or labeled for it – is using one percent – or a fairly weak blend – of glyphosate.

GRANT: And spray it this time of year. Any day that gets above 60 degrees when the weeds are small and it’s wet and the clover is growing very vigorously. If the clover is vigorous, it can handle that one percent glyphosate and not suffer much problem.

GRANT: As far as nutrients, we can add fertilizer, but I don’t like adding fertilizer because that causes a whole host of other problems. So, we know that over three quarters of the air above us is nitrogen.

GRANT: So, what we’re breathing in is a lot of nitrogen. Clover is a legume and it can fix nitrogen. We’re really worried about P and K and the other trace minerals.

GRANT: So, what we do is drill in Eagle Seed’s Monster Wheat. We may throw in another crop depending on where we are and what we need as a cover crop each fall; allow those plants to grow, mature. Deer eat on them, don’t eat on them. And then die and return those nutrients right to the soil. It’s called mining, or recycling, and that’s worked excellent for us.

GRANT: When the fall varieties are maturing and becoming less palatable and it’s still way too cool to plant soybeans, clover is the perfect filler for that gap. It’s growing rapidly during these cool and moist conditions and small fields can feed a lot of deer.

GRANT: Maintaining about ten percent of your food plots in clover is often a good plan. Clover is really strong in the early spring or late winter until it’s warm enough to plant soybeans or other summer crops.

GRANT: Since clover is working so well now, you may wonder why I don’t like more than ten percent of my plots in clover. That’s a fair question. But as conditions warm up, and there tends to be less rain or more evaporation during the summer, clover tends to not do as well and it certainly doesn’t grow as many tons per acre.

GRANT: That’s the conditions where soybeans thrive. So, I’m using the right crop at the right time and using the amount that’s appropriate for that time. Clover produces an awful lot of tonnage and I simply don’t need as many acres in clover as I do soybeans to feed deer throughout the long summer months.

GRANT: We love sharing habitat management and food plot techniques with others. Sometimes we do it in person. Recently, we had three guys from Wisconsin and one gentleman from northern Missouri come to The Proving Grounds for a personal tour.

GRANT: Hey, we’re at The Proving Grounds today and got some guys taking a tour, trying to help them improve their Proving Grounds. And we’re currently looking at a glade that we’ve burned, seen a lot of native grasses and forbs coming up – taking this opportunity to talk about creating high quality habitat.

GRANT: We spent the day going over our food plot establishment and management techniques; our hunting techniques; and how we use prescribed fire to improve native vegetation.

GRANT: In, in different states, a lot of state agencies have fire training days or will help you burn, whatever. So, make sure you get some assistance. Just don’t go out and drop a match ‘cause Grant said fire’s a good tool.

GRANT: I cautioned them and I want to caution you. Don’t use prescribed fire as a habitat management tool unless you have the appropriate gear and you’ve had the appropriate training.

GRANT: These areas – these, these south facing slopes like this would have been hot and dry, historically. They wouldn’t have been timbered. And so, we’ve just restored them to native vegetation. Now we have over 100 deer per square mile.

GRANT: We’re gonna spend the day talking about all the essentials for wildlife and hunting stands, how we place them, how we hunt the Ozarks here and how you can translate that into your hunting properties.

GRANT: If you’d like to spend some time in the field with the GrowingDeer Team, simply go to GrowingDeer.com and check out the our place tab.

GRANT: If you missed the Facebook Live event with James and Cody, we’ve got several of their excellent techniques on the clips tab at GrowingDeer.com.

GRANT: Whether you're checking out your food plots, scouting for turkeys, or already hunting, remember to each day, slow down and enjoy Creation. But, most importantly, take time and be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.