Turkeys use sophisticated vocabulary to communicate. We hunters need to understand that language with the help of the hunter call of the wild beginner's guide. It takes you to an exciting journey of turkey calling guide. There are approximately 10-12 familiar sounds that turkeys use at frequent intervals. You can use different turkey calls available out there in the market to imitate those sounds. Turkey calling is essential to influence a turkey as it fundamentally asks, “Where are you?” or, “Come over here where I am?” So, let’s explore the turkey calling guide.
Some Common Sounds That Turkeys Use?
Before we get to know about the practice of turkey calling, let us see some familiar sounds that turkeys use to communicate in their surroundings and its meaning. Here are briefings of 11 sounds.
This sound is generally created by male turkeys to attract hens in the area. The voice is hard and like rapid gurgling sound used primarily in the spring. It can also act a double edge sword by attracting dominant Toms for a fight. You need to be cautious while making these calls as other hunters might find your way. This is the reason it is often used as a call of last resort by hunters. (https://www.nwtf.org/_resources/dyn/files/1475676z54066659/_fn/Gobbling.mp3)
2. Plain Yelp
It is given by both sexes, but plain yelp is generally known as the sound of a lonesome hen. They mean “Where are you?” and used in separation. It is delivered in a series of single-note vocalizations. Well, it has different meanings of communication, depending upon how a hen uses it. A hunter using this call can manifold the chances of getting in a turkey close enough to grab a delicious hunt.
Cutting sound is made when a gobbler is excited and not in a hurry or alarmed. There are several uses of cutting. As the hen uses it, you can cut back in an attempt to get her closer. Or, you can mimic her calls. Cutt calls by hunters generally lead to luring a dominant hen by making a loud and sharp cutts. On the other hand, soft calling of cutting sounds can also bring a gobbler into the range. (https://www.nwtf.org/_resources/dyn/files/1475673z246c92d6/_fn/Cutting.mp3)
4. Assembly Call
As the name suggests, an assembly call is by hens to accommodate their flocks or assemble young poults. It goes like a sequence of loud yelps which are more forceful and more prolonged than a standard series of yelp. Hunters use this assembly calling in the early season for unseasoned gobblers. Or, they can be used in the fall season while trying to scatter the flock back together. (https://www.nwtf.org/_resources/dyn/files/1475678zb3be4b5e/_fn/Old_Hen_Assembly_Yelp.mp3)
Clucks are like one or more short and staccato notes. It is generally used by the hen to catch a hanging gobbler in or to get the attention of others. This is a great call to encourage gobblers with long beards. While birds are on the roost, the hen may use it to inform that here you are. A plain cluck is a median pitch call usually given in a short series of two or three. These sounds radically mean, “Come here.” (https://www.nwtf.org/_resources/dyn/files/1475671zca62f3fa/_fn/Clucks.mp3)
6. Fly-Up Or Fly-Down Cackle
A fly-up cackle can be a great tool of use to locate roosted toms. While a fly-down cackle is used to lure a hen on the ground. Even hunters use this call when gobblers are already on the ground as it works best in that situation. Thus, it can be heard in both cases either when the bird is leaving the roost, or a bird is flying up to a roost. It sounds like 10-15 irregular spacing notes with an increasing pitch in a loud and staccato voice.
7. Keekee Run
It lasts for about two seconds only. It is merely a variation of the call ‘kee kee run’ followed by a yelp. These calls are made by adults or young birds when they get lost or are reassembling a scattered flock. In the hands of hunters, it’s a different voice that will make you sound more natural and separates you from other hunters using cutts and yelps.
8. Tree Yelp
It is a type of reassuring call to communicate with surrounding turkeys. Sometimes, a roosted gobbler may not answer the call or instead fall for it all the way. It is like soft muffled yelps given by a roosted bird accompanied by a soft clucking. (https://www.nwtf.org/_resources/dyn/files/1475683za3f48e19/_fn/Tree_Calling.mp3)
Purr is a soft sound and rolling call of turkeys while they are traveling in the flock. They use it to maintain contact with other birds in the congregation. It is also a type of reassuring call, being not too loud. However, rapid and loud purrs may signify aggression as turkeys battle for dominance. Birds also make this sound while feeding to keep in constant touch. (https://www.nwtf.org/_resources/dyn/files/1475681z4dfaef35/_fn/Purrs.mp3)
Putt is an alarm sound made by turkeys with single or several sharp notes. The alarm means that the bird has seen something of a dangerous nature. This sound is useful for hunters to alert a gobbler that is already in range. It will influence the gobbler to raise his head. The situation is ideal when you put your shotgun ready on the target to hit the right spot. It is because you have very little time to shoot as the bird can make the slightest movement after raising its head. (https://www.nwtf.org/_resources/dyn/files/1475682zd4f3be8f/_fn/Putts.mp3)
11. Cluck And Purr
This reassuring sound is made by turkeys when they feel a sense of contentment often associated with flock talk. Sometimes, it may be amplified, but typically, it is not a loud call. These calls are almost staccato calls made by rolling flock. (https://www.nwtf.org/_resources/dyn/files/1475670zbd65c36c/_fn/Cluck_and_Purr.mp3)
There are over 30 sounds that turkeys made in the woods to call upon each other to ask, “Where are you?” or, “Come over here where I am?” But, hunters successfully use nearly less than half of those sounds. The two basic sounds of hen yelp and plain cluck can kill most of the turkeys. A cluck is a single-note sound made usually by both gobblers and hens throughout the day. They might be spaced down with a gap of two to three seconds, or birds cluck at once. Well, the turkey’s mood, Right?
On the other hand, hen yelp is the high-pitched sound of gobblers. Tom turkeys yelp with a slower cadence with few yelps of up to three to four notes as’ yawp, yawp, yawp.’ Jake will often yelp rather than in the spring season of turkey hunting. The key here is to practice calls as much as you can if you want to become an experienced and severe turkey hunter. There are other good sounds also like tree yelps and roost clucks; cutting; fly-down cackles; purrs; gobbles’ lost yelps and even kee-kee sounds of young birds.
Turkey Calling By Hunters
Calling a turkey becomes so after you have decided your setup. When the birds are gobbling, you have to make cautious and quick decisions. Before we directly jump to best turkey calls for beginners, let us dive into some right setup concept for your easy understanding. Use the terrain or just your analytical vision and make sure the open shooting lanes should be there to glance for coming gobblers. This might be pasture corner trail or an edge of a ridge top. Place your setup there and get ready to call turkeys.
And, remember not to miss decoys in the setup. Suppose you have strut zones and patterned field turkeys, then make your setup there. Ground Blinds also can help you out in this situation. While you can choose to make your setup near the place where birds fly down in case you’ve roosted turkeys. There are two options in front of you. First is you can sit, call and wait for the gobblers to come to you. Second, move onto your next setup to ensure less gap between the birds.
Box calls are made up of wood. Turkey box calls are versatile and are favorite among most turkey hunters. Being made up of wood, it can make most of the wild turkey’s vocabulary. The rectangular box makes a sound when you scrape the paddle bottom against a side panel-a hollow chamber inside the narrow. Unless you are a seasoned hunter, you need a period to master multiple calls that I am mentioning in this article.
How To Use A Turkey Box Call?
These box calls are a top pick for relatively long range. Anyone mastering these calls can manage to produce various types of realistic sounds. It can produce a variety of tones, as follows:
To make this sound, slightly apply pressure on the lip/ paddle of the box call. You can hold the box in your left hand while sliding it across the lip of the box call’s side panel. Press your thumb on the base of the paddle and use your right hand to slide the paddle back and forth. Take it like a scraping and smooth movement to produce a full sound that you aspire to. A gentle swing will do slightly pulling the paddle firmly. By varying the friction level, different variations of a yelp can be easily created with box calls.
A box call can make this exciting sound of a turkey. Now, to reveal the location of the bird, use this excitement call by holding the box in the right hand and paddle in the left-hand side. Make sure not to hold the paddle tightly. Just make swinging movements by hitting paddle with the box. Usually, cutts are conveyed in rapid successions as cutt-cutt-cutt-cutt! Find the rhythm and make that box sing for you like a bird.
Cackle And Gobble
While you hold the call vertically, it’s lid will make a sort of clattering sound against the box after hitting paddle with the box. It requires speed and vigor in action to make a realistic cackle sound. A gobbler will generally respond to cackle quickly revealing its location presuming it as communication with another turkey.
Press thumb on the base of the paddle and hold the box with your left hand. And, properly use your left hand to slightly slap against the paddle’s other end and slide it back over the box. Generally, it is a single sound, and to make the second cluck, slide the paddle out and tap it back again. If you make it, turkey responds to it, wanting to know where you are.
Purr is a soft, scratchy sound usually made by slowly sliding the panel against the box as you are holding it in your left hand. Like before, gently press the thumb on the paddle’s base. Following it after cluck can prove to be an ideal way of turkey calling with a box call.
Carpenter’s chalk is best option to tune your box calls. Preferably, avoid oil-based options. The chalk provides the friction that the instrument had already begin to lose out. Most of you will think that it may not prove useful in the rainy season. So, if you are also in this category of thinkers, it is to inform you that waterproof box calls are also available in the market.
Mouth calls offer a hands-free operation as they are operated by mouth. These are also widely known as diaphragm calls. Mouth/Diaphragm turkey calls consist of three main parts, namely latex reeds, frame, and tape. The frame firmly holds the latex reeds in place while keeping the right amount of tension. What produces the sound is the latex reeds in various numbers (between 1-4 reeds) and thickness. The inbuilt tape allows the caller to force air into the reeds. If it gets sealed against the roof of mouth call correctly, the air is prevented from going around it.
How To Use Mouth Calls?
It is suggested to keep it in the mouth for a few minutes before producing any turkey sounds. It will help you feel comfortable with the call. Reeds of different mouth calls are cut in various ways to produce a variety of sounds. Once you are used to the call, try to produce sound by placing your tongue against the latex reeds and by huffing air over the reeds. Lower pressure will produce lower pitches, whereas higher pressure will produce high pitch sounds. Try yelping by saying the word ‘yelp.’
Just face the straight edge forward and go for a tight air seal. Right rhythm, length, number, spacing, and pitch of notes will surely improve your turkey game. ‘Chop,’ ‘chick,’ ‘chirp’ and ‘chalk’ are favorite sounds. It also depends upon the caller to choose the best word.
Here, I have enlisted some cuts of these mouth calls.
It is all-purpose yelper that generally requires less air pressure than a bat-wing mouth turkey call.
It has broader rasp range but is still easy to control.
This mouth turkey call makes best version caller for kees kees and tree yelps. It is an easy call to use for beginners because of its blowing feature.
This is better for open country calling and loud calling. It requires more air pressure to operate.
You can take it as an all-purpose call for soft to medium raspy cutts and yelps.
Being capable of soft rasp, it is well suited to whistles, tree yelps, and kees, and also become a favorite tool for fall turkey hunters.
Vary the number of yelps and clucks according to the hunting situation. Pay attention to real hens and try to mimic their sounds. On roost, hen’s notes of tree yelps go from one to a handful, so always count upon the notes when you make mouth call. To practice, choose a single word like “shock” and break it as sh-ock. Then, roll it like s-h-h-h-o-c-k. Just like this, experiment with different words to get your presumed sound.
For Cluck sounds, say ‘tock,’ ‘pock,’ ‘puck’ or ‘tuck’ with one short air burst. Run these clucks in a fast series as puck-puck-puck-puck to make cutt sound. Yes, you can combine mouth yelping pot-and-peg or box-call vocalizations. After you have finished calling, wash them with cold water and keep them dry and store in a cool and dry place. For reeds, to get them to unstick, get them wet first. Thus, in this way you can also take proper care of your best turkey mouth call or you can say best diaphragm turkey call after selecting for the best option.
Slate or pot calls are designed with an array of materials including slate, titanium, crystal, aluminum, plexiglass, and copper. And, they are paired with a striker usually made up of carbon, wood or other materials. There are even more sound varieties available with slate as compared to box calls. Slate calls are friction calls known for their realistic high-pitched sounds that can easily carry over long distances regardless of weather conditions. Most of the beginners try to find for themselves the best turkey pot call as the box calls or mouth calls will take a little more time to master.
How To Use A Slate Turkey Call?
Well, it is not a whole easy task without a fair practice. Proficient hunters could able to get a variety of notes and pitches out of this single instrument just by varying the pressure and angle of striker against the sounding surface. The good thing is that it only takes a few minutes to learn passable yelps and clucks. Slate is an excellent choice for making soft or loud pitch sounds depending upon the striking surface.
Start the process by holding the striking surface facing up. Gently place your thumb in 9 o’clock position and your middle finger at 3 o’clock position. And, by varying the stroke pattern can produce a variety of realistic bird sounds. To have different vocalizations, keep the tip of striker on the striking surface. Thus, it can make realistic sounds in the following way.
To make a yelping sound, try to draw small ovals on your pot’s striking surface. As you draw less pressure, the yelps will be softer and vice versa.
As you put the tip of your striker on the striking surface, slightly angle it inward and with the pressure, pull it towards you. Soft clucks require less stress. While louder and deeper clucks put more pressure.
Make a cross line across the striking surface to imitate purrs. Make these lines in an agitated manner to produce fighting purrs.
To make a cutt sound, stroke as you are fast clucking. Repeat the procedure multiple times as you followed with the cluck.
To create call ring tune and friction, rub the striking surface frequently with abrasive sandpaper or pad. Rough the tip of striker from time to time. It is suggested to avoid touching the calling surfaces of the striker and the pot because oils from your skin can foul a call. Emery board works great for sanding the striker tips. So, along with using, also maintain your pot and peg calls for a long-lasting relationship.
Push Button Calls
These are often called “idiot boxes.” As the name signifies, it can be tuned just with the push of a button. It is a small wooden or plastic box with a spring-loaded pin running through it. And, a wooden, glass or slate is attached to the pin. With the minimum amount of work and some tuning, anyone can make purrs, yelps, and clucks with push-button calls. It is considered as one of the most natural calls to learn and master. They are primarily made from wood or walnut or plastic. However, you cannot solely rely upon push button calls, especially in conditions of hunting pressure.
How To Use Push Button Turkey Call?
On the other hand, these calls cannot produce a variety of sounds as other turkey calls. However, its mechanics is quite simple. The pushing or pulling action forces the peg to slide across the striking surface. Each strike made can make some turkey vocalizations of clucking, yelping and purring.
Yelping sound can be created by giving a firm push to the button down at a medium speed. If you push it at a faster speed, it will generate shorter yelps.
A sort of vibration in push-button call is needed to create a purring sound. Firmly push the rod down and do it slowly to create a soft purr.
To make a rhythmic and exciting cackle call, push the striker rod in quick and short bursts and then follow it with a set of long bursts.
Tapping the striker rod quickly for four to five times will produce a sweet clucking sound.
You can use push button calls to induce gobbler to take the last few steps. On the setup, when you are ready to hunt, fasten the push-button call onto the shotgun barrel. Push-button calls are safe and ideal for close in calling.
Locator calls assist in locating gobblers as the name implies. They are also called as the ‘run and gun’ tools. It is because a locator call should be used while moving and keeping your ears and eyes open for any sign of turkeys. There are few frequent locator calls in the market as discussed below.
How To Use Locator Turkey Calls?
They are generally loud sounds, and it is known as ‘shock gobbling.’ Crow or barred owl calls are traditional locator turkey calls. And, goose, duck, coyote, and even hawk calls work better. Remember switching to turkey calls is the best idea after birds fly down. Locator calls can be used frugally.
It is the most popular locator call that turkey hunters ever used. Hunters use it in early mornings while birds are still on the roost. The hunters also use these calls in the late afternoon after birds have flown up for the evening. It is a tactic used to locate gobblers for the next day’s hunt. (https://www.realtree.com/sites/default/files/audio/Owl.mp3)
Cutting Hen locator call should be used carefully while the gobbler is coming close. Make sure to have a tree nearby so that you can plop down against if one comes storming in. (https://www.realtree.com/sites/default/files/audio/Cutting_hen.mp3)
Crow call is used at different times of the day at dawn and dusk. These calls are used to get the birds to gobble. (https://www.realtree.com/sites/default/files/audio/Crow.mp3)
Goose is a high-pitched sound in which frequency is changed throughout the vocalization. This herky-jerky type of sound goes well a lot of time. A right goose call will let the tom into sounding off most days. (https://www.realtree.com/sites/default/files/audio/Goose.mp3)
A loud duck call will do the job for most of any given day. Give it a try in this season! (https://www.realtree.com/sites/default/files/audio/Duck.mp3)
The best time to use coyote call is when putting the birds to roost. (https://www.realtree.com/sites/default/files/audio/Coyote.mp3)
So, these are some of the standard locator calls used by most of the hunters. They all result in tom gobbling. Sounding like a gobble may not be advisable in a heavily hunted area. According to what I have noticed, it is mandatory to keep a variety of various calls mentioned above and focus on regular practice. This is how you can be a severe and influential turkey hunter, among others.