Here Worm, Here Worm…

by Curt Kovener Curt line

Maybe you have called chickens, Maybe you have called hogs. If you are an outdoors person, maybe you have been in the woods calling wild turkeys. But have you ever heard of calling earthworms?
Me neither, until sometime back.
The only printed material that I’ve actually seen concerning the practice of “worm grunting” (as the art of earthworm calling is called in Florida) is a copy of a U.S. Forestry Service record of the number of worm calling permits sold for use in the Apalachicola National Forest, in Florida’s panhandle. About 700 annual permits are sold each year, mostly to professional bait dealers.
The whole concept is really simple. For some reason, vibrations just seem to drive earthworms out of the ground. There are several theories on this: one theory holds that vibrations created in worm grunting may simulate those of falling rain, and the worms may be surfacing instinctively to avoid drowning. A second theory maintains that the vibrations closely mimic those created by tunneling moles or shrews (both of which are voracious worm hunters) and the earthworms are coming to the surface to avoid being eaten. Still another theory claims that the vibrations may somewhat resemble those preceding seismic disturbances, again causing the worms to surface instinctively.
Actually, any method of sending vibrations through the ground seems effective in bringing worms to the surface; it’s just that some methods seem to work a little better than others. Probably the simplest (and certainly one of the easiest) methods utilizes nothing more than one smooth stick or board and one notched stick or board.
The smooth piece of wood is driven into the ground, then the notched piece is drawn back and forth across it with a saw-like motion. It can take anywhere from a minute or two up to half an hour or so until the worms start to surface.
And I suppose you could just take the notched wood bow and “saw” around on a variety of fence posts to find your worm honey hole.
Practice and experimentation on the part of the caller will definitely increase the effectiveness of this technique as there are a wide range of soil types, wood varieties, etc. to be encountered. But, I’ve read that once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll have a pretty reliable method of obtaining fresh fish bait or chicken feed.
A concrete contractor developed a method that wouldn’t at all relate to wilderness use; however, it’s interesting enough to mention. He calls it “the Mother of all Worm Grunters”.
He had driven a length of 4” galvanized pipe about five or six feet into the ground, leaving only about 8” protruding. Whenever he feels like making a weekend fishing excursion or giving his chickens a little extra protein to boost their egg production, he’ll go out and drop the working end of a concrete vibrator down the pipe and turn it on for half an hour or so.
So there you have it. If you don’t like the after dark out in the yard with a flash light to snatch and grab for nightcrawlers, (I’m not as fast as I used to be) you might try your hand at calling them up to you.
Or you could just go to a bait shop.