The amount of and how you call depends on the reaction of the bird to your calling...As goose said, they can be call shy...ecspecially later in the season.... Heres a general rule of thumb...If the gobbler is far away, call louder, as he approaches tone it down and throw in the purrs and clucks which are more subtle calls. Purrs and clucks are contentment calls. Hen turkeys usually do this while theyre feeding along...It says everythings peachy. When finishing a Tom, they seal the deal. Once the Gobbler is in sight and coming, i use soft purrs, clucks and yelps. But many times i just quit calling and get the gun ready. If he hangs up, ill give him a few more soft calls to lure him the rest of the way...Thats where a decoy can help as well...They can be shy of them too, so keep that in mind if you get birds that are coming in and dont finish after seeing the decoy. You may have to remove it and rely on your calling alone....Some never hunt with decoys...I personally do...Its great to see them react to them.
One mistake you made in your scouting was taking a turkey call along. Before your hunt begins, you never want to call turkeys in. They get extremely smart to calling and pressure. That would be like me hollaring at you from a distance to come over here, while in hiding,..you get there and cant find me...What do you do?...you get suspicious...Same with turkeys. When they get to where the sound is coming from they expect there to be a turkey there, not a "stump" that sounds like a turkey.
...I like to scout from long distances. i use binoculars and watch them when they enter fields. Observe the location and time they came out. If you do this for a few days youll learn their pattern. The second part of scouting actually involves going to the timber. Knowing the terrain will help your hunt immensly. It will give you and idea on where the turkeys will likely travel. Your next step is to find these areas. Look for signs such as tracks, droppings, dusting bowls, strut marks, feathers, scrathing, etc...(These "travel cooridoors" are excellent places to hunt). After you find where theyre traveling, you likely have an idea on where theyre roosting. But to cement the roost site, you need to go out either at day break or sun down to roost the birds. They may gobble naturally and give away their location, or you can provoke them to gobble by using a locator call such as an owl, crow, peacock, woodpecker, hawk, coyote, or sandhill crane call.
In the morning your best bet is try and get as close to the roost as you can without spooking them. A general rule of thumb is 100 yds or so...It all depends on the terrain and the amount of folage. I like to set up quietly in the direction i think the turkeys will travel to.(thats where your scouting pays off) Once settled in i like to give a few soft tree calls, which are basically, very soft yelps. I only do this a couple times, just to let him know im there. Theyll likely respond. Then its time to wait em out. Listen closely as youll hear them fly down...Allot of times it sounds like a B-52 crashing through the limbs...
...but not always. This is the time to start your calling. Give em a few soft yelps and see how they respond. If theyre aggressive, (generally) your calling technique can be. But, if they gobble sparingly, or not at all, keep a sharp eye and a keen ear because they may be on their way, just silently...Sometimes they just slip right in.
That was plan A, but that doesnt always pan out as youll find with turkey hunting. The hens may fly down and go a different direction. And in general, the way the hens go, the tom goes too. This is where your scouting pays off...Since youve scouted, know the terrain, and the areas the turkeys have been traveling youLL be able to sneak around them to cut them off. This may involve going on the other side of the ridge to slip past them, or in some cases, going around the woodlot to get in front of them...Because, lets face it, turkeys are easier to call to ya, if they already want to go that way.
And if that doesnt work, you may just have to set up in one of the areas they travel and wait em out. Make a call every half hour or so, and keep your eyes peeled. Many times during the midday and afternoon theyll come in silently. But sometimes theyll gobble their heads off and come a runnin' in...It all depends on the turkey.
So to tell you a calling style to stick to is impossible...Time spent in the woods and reading birds is the best teacher. Youll make mistakes, but youll learn from them. And dont get discouraged if every turkey you call to doesnt respond, because that just doesnt happen. And i mimic goose, by saying if they dont respond to one call, try another...Just change pitch, sometimes thats all it takes.
Best of luck on your turkey hunt. As youve already found out, its a blast to call in a wiley old Longbeard.