Turkey Hunting: The Art of Calling and How to Master It

Turkey hunting is a popular and thrilling activity for hunters of all skill levels. Whether you are a seasoned hunter or just starting out, mastering the art of calling is essential to a successful turkey hunt. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various techniques and strategies to help you become a master caller. From understanding different turkey calls to perfecting your own calling technique, this article will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the art of turkey hunting.

The Basics of Turkey Calling

Turkey calling is an essential skill that every turkey hunter should master. It involves mimicking the sounds that turkeys make in order to attract them. By understanding different turkey calls, choosing the right turkey call, and mastering basic turkey calls, you can significantly increase your chances of a successful hunt.

Understanding Different Turkey Calls

There are several different types of turkey calls, each producing a distinct sound that turkeys respond to. The most commonly used turkey calls include:

  1. Box Calls: These calls consist of a rectangular box and a paddle. By dragging the paddle across the box’s surface, you can create realistic turkey sounds. Box calls are easy to use and produce a variety of tones, making them ideal for beginners.

  2. Slate Calls: Also known as pot calls, slate calls are made of a slate surface and a striker. By rubbing the striker against the slate, you can create soft and subtle turkey sounds. Slate calls require practice to master, but they offer great versatility and realistic tones.

  3. Mouth Calls: Also called diaphragm calls, mouth calls are placed inside the hunter’s mouth. By controlling the air flow and tongue pressure, you can produce a wide range of turkey sounds. Mouth calls require practice to use effectively, but they allow for hands-free operation, making them a popular choice among experienced hunters.

  4. Push Button Calls: These calls consist of a small box with a button on top. By pushing the button, you can create realistic turkey sounds. Push button calls are easy to use and produce consistent sounds, making them a good option for beginners.

Choosing the Right Turkey Call

Selecting the right turkey call depends on various factors, including your skill level, hunting scenario, and personal preference. Consider the following tips when choosing a turkey call:

  1. Experience Level: If you are a beginner, start with an easy-to-use call like a box call or push button call. As you gain more experience and confidence, you can move on to more advanced calls like slate or mouth calls.

  2. Hunting Scenario: Different calls work better in different hunting scenarios. For example, if you are hunting in dense woods, a mouth call may be more effective due to its hands-free operation. If you are hunting in open fields, a box call or slate call may carry the sound further.

  3. Personal Preference: Ultimately, the best turkey call is the one you feel most comfortable using. Experiment with different calls and choose the one that suits your style and produces the most realistic sounds.

Mastering Basic Turkey Calls

To master basic turkey calls, practice and patience are key. Here are some tips to improve your turkey calling skills:

  1. Listen to Real Turkeys: Spend time in the outdoors listening to turkeys and learning how they communicate. Pay attention to their different vocalizations, such as clucks, yelps, purrs, and gobbles. This will help you replicate these sounds more accurately.

  2. Start with Simple Calls: Begin by mastering the basic calls, such as clucks and yelps. Practice these calls until you can produce consistent and realistic sounds. Once you have mastered the basics, you can move on to more advanced calls.

  3. Use Audio Recordings: Use audio recordings of turkey calls to practice and compare your own calls. This will help you identify areas for improvement and refine your technique.

  4. Seek Guidance: Consider seeking guidance from experienced hunters or joining a turkey calling workshop. Learning from experienced individuals can provide valuable insights and help you advance your skills faster.

By understanding the basics of turkey calling, familiarizing yourself with different turkey calls, choosing the right call for your needs, and investing time in practicing and mastering basic turkey calls, you will significantly enhance your turkey hunting experience and increase your chances of success.

Advanced Techniques in Turkey Calling

Using Decoys and Calls Together

When it comes to turkey hunting, using decoys and calls together can greatly increase your chances of success. Decoys are lifelike replicas of turkeys that are strategically placed to attract real turkeys. Combined with the right calling techniques, they can be highly effective in luring in wary gobblers.

To effectively utilize decoys and calls together, consider the following tips:

  • Choose the right decoy setup: Depending on the phase of the hunt and the behavior of the turkeys in your area, you may opt for different decoy setups. A common setup involves placing a hen decoy near your calling position to attract the attention of gobblers. Additionally, using a jake decoy or a strutting tom decoy can create a sense of competition, triggering a gobbler’s territorial instincts.

  • Mimic realistic turkey sounds: To enhance the effectiveness of your decoy setup, it’s crucial to master realistic turkey sounds. Use your calls to mimic the vocalizations of hens, gobblers, and even jakes. By accurately replicating these sounds, you can create a more convincing and enticing scenario for approaching turkeys.

  • Coordinate your calling with decoy movement: To make your decoy setup appear more natural, coordinate your calling with decoy movement. For example, when calling with a hen yelp, gently move the hen decoy to simulate a real turkey’s movement. This combination of visual and auditory cues can fool even the most cautious gobblers into approaching your setup.

Calling Strategies for Different Phases of the Hunt

Turkey hunting involves different phases, each requiring a specific calling strategy. Understanding these phases and adapting your calling techniques accordingly can significantly improve your chances of success. Here are some calling strategies for different phases of the hunt:

  1. Roosting phase: Early in the morning, turkeys are still roosted on trees. To locate them, use owl hoots or crow calls to elicit a shock gobble response. Once you pinpoint their location, switch to soft tree yelps or fly-down cackles to simulate turkeys leaving the roost.

  2. Breeding phase: During the breeding phase, gobblers are actively seeking out hens for mating. Mimic the sounds of a receptive hen using yelps, clucks, and purrs. Gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your calls to imitate a hen in the peak of breeding activity, attracting gobblers looking for potential mates.

  3. Midday phase: When the breeding activity slows down, turkeys may disperse or focus on feeding. Use soft, subtle calls such as purrs and clucks to imitate contented turkeys foraging. This can be particularly effective when paired with decoys positioned near feeding areas.

  4. Late afternoon phase: As the day nears its end, turkeys start regrouping and heading towards their roosting spots. Utilize assembly yelps and kee-kees to mimic young turkeys reuniting with the flock, attracting both gobblers and hens.

Creating Realistic Turkey Sounds

Mastering the art of creating realistic turkey sounds is essential for any serious turkey hunter. Here are some tips to help you achieve lifelike turkey calls:

  • Practice proper hand and mouth positioning: Whether you’re using a diaphragm call, box call, or slate call, it’s crucial to position your hands correctly to achieve the desired sound. Experiment with different hand placements and angles to find the sweet spot for each call. Similarly, for mouth diaphragm calls, ensure a tight seal against the roof of your mouth and control the airflow with your tongue.

  • Control your breath and rhythm: The key to realistic turkey sounds lies in controlling your breath and rhythm. Avoid abrupt or unnatural changes in volume, pitch, or speed. Practice steady, smooth calling with consistent pauses, replicating the natural cadence of turkey vocalizations.

  • Master different turkey calls: To create a diverse range of turkey sounds, learn various calls such as yelps, clucks, purrs, cuts, and gobbles. Each call serves a specific purpose and can be used in different hunting scenarios. Experiment with different call combinations and inflections to create unique sequences that sound like real turkeys.

By employing these advanced techniques in turkey calling, using decoys effectively, adapting to different phases of the hunt, and creating realistic turkey sounds, you’ll increase your chances of success and become a master turkey hunter.

Mastering the Art of Turkey Calling

Developing Your Own Calling Style

Developing your own calling style is an essential aspect of becoming a master turkey hunter. While there are various calling techniques and styles, finding what works best for you will improve your success rate in attracting turkeys.

To develop your own calling style, it is crucial to understand the different types of turkey calls available. Some popular options include box calls, slate calls, diaphragm calls, and push-button calls. Experiment with each type to determine which one suits your skills and preferences.

Once you have chosen a call, spend ample time practicing with it. Focus on producing realistic turkey sounds, such as clucks, purrs, yelps, and cutting. Mimicking these sounds accurately is key to convincing turkeys that you are one of their own.

While imitating turkey sounds is important, don’t be afraid to add your own flair. Turkeys have individual personalities, and sometimes a unique calling style can grab their attention better than a generic one. Find your own rhythm, tone, and cadence to create a distinct calling style that stands out in the woods.

Perfecting Timing and Cadence

Timing and cadence are crucial elements of successful turkey calling. Turkeys are highly perceptive creatures, and their reactions often depend on how well you can replicate their natural calling patterns.

To perfect your timing, observe turkeys in their natural habitat. Pay attention to the intervals between their calls and how they change based on various situations. This will help you determine when to call and when to remain silent. Timing your calls to match their natural rhythm will make your calls more convincing.

Cadence refers to the pattern and speed of your calling. It is important to vary your cadence based on the behavior of the turkeys. When turkeys are actively calling, matching their speed and pattern can help you blend in seamlessly. However, during moments of silence or when turkeys are less vocal, using a slower and more subtle cadence can create intrigue and draw them closer.

Remember to remain patient and avoid overcalling. Turkeys can become wary if they sense that something is amiss. By observing their reactions and adjusting your timing and cadence accordingly, you can increase your chances of luring them closer.

Reading Turkey Reactions and Adjusting Calls

Reading turkey reactions is a skill that sets apart expert turkey hunters. Understanding how turkeys respond to different calls and adjusting your strategy accordingly can dramatically improve your success in the field.

Pay close attention to the way turkeys react to your calls. If they respond positively by moving closer or gobbling, continue with the same calling sequence. However, if they seem uninterested or start moving away, it’s time to switch things up.

Experiment with different calls, sequences, and volumes to gauge their reactions. Sometimes a simple change in pitch or volume can pique a turkey’s curiosity and draw them closer. Other times, using a completely different call, such as a gobble or a kee-kee run, might be necessary to spark their interest.

Keep in mind that turkeys can be unpredictable, and what works on one day may not work on another. Adaptability is key when reading turkey reactions. By staying observant and making real-time adjustments to your calls, you can increase your chances of success in the field.

In conclusion, mastering the art of turkey calling involves developing your own calling style, perfecting timing and cadence, and reading turkey reactions. By dedicating time to practice, observing turkeys in their natural habitat, and making necessary adjustments, you can enhance your turkey hunting skills and become a seasoned turkey caller.

In conclusion, mastering the art of calling in turkey hunting is a skill that requires practice, patience, and a deep understanding of turkey behavior. By utilizing various calling techniques, such as the yelp, cluck, purr, and gobble, hunters can effectively communicate with turkeys and increase their chances of a successful hunt. Additionally, employing proper timing and cadence, as well as understanding the different scenarios in which each call is most effective, can further enhance a hunter’s ability to attract turkeys. With dedication and persistence, hunters can become proficient in the art of calling and enjoy a rewarding and exhilarating turkey hunting experience.