Turkey Hunting: The Art of Turkey Calling

Turkey hunting is a popular and thrilling outdoor activity that requires skill and strategy. One crucial aspect of turkey hunting is mastering the art of turkey calling. Turkey calling is the practice of mimicking the sounds made by turkeys to attract them closer. Whether you are a seasoned hunter or a beginner, understanding the techniques and different types of turkey calls can greatly improve your chances of a successful hunt. In this article, we will explore the art of turkey calling and provide valuable insights and tips to help you enhance your turkey hunting experience.

Understanding Turkey Calling

Turkey calling is an essential skill for any aspiring turkey hunter. It involves mimicking the sounds made by turkeys to attract them and bring them within range for a successful hunt. To become proficient in turkey calling, it is important to understand the different types of turkey calls, the proper technique, and common mistakes to avoid.

Types of Turkey Calls

There are various types of turkey calls that hunters can utilize. Each type produces different sounds to imitate the diverse vocalizations of turkeys. The most common types of turkey calls include:

  1. Box Calls: Box calls consist of a rectangular wooden box with a lid that is moved back and forth to create realistic turkey sounds. They are easy to use and produce loud and clear tones, making them a popular choice for beginners.

  2. Slate Calls: Slate calls, also known as pot calls, feature a round piece of slate or glass set within a shallow wooden or plastic pot. By running a striker across the surface, hunters can produce a wide range of turkey sounds. These calls are versatile and can imitate both soft purrs and loud yelps.

  3. Mouth Calls: Mouth calls, or diaphragm calls, are inserted into the hunter’s mouth. They consist of latex reeds that vibrate when air is forced over them, creating turkey sounds. Mouth calls require practice to master, but once mastered, they offer hands-free operation and the ability to produce realistic, high-pitched calls.

  4. Push Button Calls: Push button calls are simple and easy to use. They typically consist of a small box with a peg or button on top that is pushed or rubbed to produce turkey sounds. These calls are compact and ideal for hunters who prefer simplicity and convenience.

The Importance of Proper Technique

Mastering the proper technique is crucial when it comes to turkey calling. Turkeys have keen hearing and can easily detect unnatural or poorly executed calls. To effectively call turkeys, hunters should focus on the following techniques:

  1. Clarity and Realism: It is important to make clear and realistic turkey sounds. Practice different turkey vocalizations, such as yelps, clucks, purrs, and gobbles, to ensure your calls are accurate and convincing.

  2. Cadence and Rhythm: Mimicking the cadence and rhythm of turkey calls is essential for attracting turkeys. Pay attention to the pauses, duration, and spacing between calls to create a natural and enticing sequence.

  3. Volume Control: Turkeys can be sensitive to loud or overly soft calls. Learning to control the volume of your calls is crucial. Start with soft calls to attract distant turkeys and gradually increase the volume as they get closer.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While learning how to turkey call, it is important to be aware of common mistakes that can deter or scare away turkeys. Avoid these errors to increase your chances of a successful hunt:

  1. Overcalling: Excessive calling can make turkeys suspicious. Remember, less is often more. Use calling sparingly and strategically to create curiosity and draw turkeys closer.

  2. Inconsistent Calling: Turkeys are accustomed to hearing consistent and predictable turkey sounds. Avoid abrupt changes in rhythm, volume, or pitch, as it can raise suspicion and alert turkeys to potential danger.

  3. Poor Timing: Timing is crucial when it comes to turkey calling. Understanding the natural behavior of turkeys and knowing when to call during different phases of the breeding season can greatly enhance your chances of success.

By understanding the different types of turkey calls, mastering proper technique, and avoiding common mistakes, you can improve your turkey hunting skills and increase your chances of a rewarding and successful hunt. Happy calling!

Mastering Different Turkey Calls

Box Calls

Box calls, also known as friction calls, are one of the most popular and versatile turkey calls used by hunters. These calls consist of a hollow box with a paddle that can be moved back and forth to create different sounds. The box is typically made of wood, such as cedar or walnut, which produces a rich and resonant tone.

To use a box call effectively, you need to hold it in one hand and use the other hand to slide the paddle across the box’s surface. By varying the speed and pressure of the paddle’s movement, you can produce a range of turkey sounds, including yelps, clucks, purrs, and even gobbles. Box calls are relatively easy to learn and provide a loud and realistic call that can attract turkeys from a distance.

Slate Calls

Slate calls, also known as pot calls, are another popular choice for turkey hunters. These calls consist of a round or oval-shaped disc made of slate, glass, or aluminum, which is housed in a pot-like container. To create sound, you use a striker, usually made of wood, plastic, or carbon, to rub against the surface of the slate.

Slate calls offer a more subtle and softer sound compared to box calls, making them ideal for close-range calling. They are highly versatile and can produce a wide range of turkey vocalizations, including soft purrs, clucks, and realistic hen yelps. With practice, you can even mimic the sound of a gobble using a slate call. The key to mastering slate calls is to control the pressure and speed at which you rub the striker against the slate surface, allowing you to vary the pitch and tone of your calls.

Mouth Calls

Mouth calls, also known as diaphragm calls, are unique among turkey calls as they are placed inside the hunter’s mouth. These calls consist of a latex or rubber reed stretched across a frame and are shaped like a horseshoe. To create sound, you use your tongue, airflow, and mouth position to manipulate the reed and produce turkey calls.

Mouth calls require more practice and technique to master compared to box and slate calls. However, once you become proficient, they offer several advantages. Mouth calls leave your hands free to handle your weapon, making them ideal for quickly responding to a turkey’s movements. They also produce the most realistic and natural turkey sounds, allowing you to accurately mimic hen yelps, clucks, purrs, and even gobbles. With different diaphragm designs available, you can find mouth calls that suit your mouth shape and personal calling style.

By mastering different turkey calls such as box calls, slate calls, and mouth calls, you can enhance your hunting skills and increase your chances of a successful turkey hunt. Each type of call offers unique benefits and can be used in various hunting situations. Experiment with different calls, practice regularly, and soon you’ll be able to expertly imitate a turkey’s language, bringing those elusive gobblers within range.

Turkey Calling Strategies

Locating and Setting Up

When it comes to turkey hunting, one of the most crucial aspects is to locate the birds and set up your hunting spot accordingly. To effectively call in turkeys, you need to first find their roosting areas, feeding grounds, and strutting zones. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to locate turkeys as they are generally more active during these periods.

To locate turkeys, listen for their distinctive gobbling sounds, which indicate their presence. Additionally, look for fresh tracks, scratch marks on the ground, and feathers to identify where they have been roosting or feeding. Once you have identified their location, it’s time to set up your hunting spot.

Choose a spot that provides good camouflage and has a clear line of sight for both you and the approaching turkeys. Ideally, position yourself against a tree or a natural blind that blends well with the surroundings. Ensure that you are hidden from the turkeys’ view but still have a clear shooting lane when they come within range.

Decoy Placement

Using decoys can significantly enhance your turkey calling success. When placing decoys, it’s important to mimic natural turkey behavior to attract the attention of gobblers. Position your decoys in a way that imitates a group of turkeys, with a combination of hen and jake or tom decoys.

Place the decoys within 20-25 yards from your hunting spot, facing your location. This positioning will entice the turkeys to approach your setup, providing you with a better shooting opportunity. Remember to set up your decoys in an open area where they can be easily seen by approaching turkeys.

Calling Techniques for Different Situations

Mastering various turkey calling techniques is crucial to effectively communicate with the birds in different situations. Here are a few techniques you can employ:

  1. Locator Calls: Use owl hoots or crow calls to locate roosted turkeys early in the morning. These calls can help you pinpoint their exact location before setting up your hunting spot.

  2. Yelping: The most basic and versatile turkey call, yelping, can be used in various situations. It imitates the yelps made by hens and can be used to attract both gobblers and hens.

  3. Clucking and Purring: These soft and subtle calls are effective when turkeys are in close proximity. Use these calls to reassure approaching turkeys that it is safe to come closer.

  4. Cutting: This aggressive call mimics the sounds of excited hens and can provoke a dominant gobbler to respond or come closer to investigate.

  5. Gobbling: Reserved for more advanced hunters, gobbling calls can be used to challenge dominant gobblers or to grab the attention of distant toms.

Remember, the key to successful turkey calling is to sound natural and mimic the sounds made by real turkeys. Practice these techniques to improve your calling skills and increase your chances of a successful hunt.

By employing effective turkey calling strategies, mastering decoy placement, and utilizing various calling techniques, you can enhance your turkey hunting skills and increase your chances of a successful and rewarding hunt. Happy hunting!

Advanced Turkey Calling Techniques

Using Gobbler Calls

Gobbler calls are an effective tool for advanced turkey hunters. These calls imitate the sound of a male turkey, which can attract other turkeys, including dominant gobblers. To use a gobbler call, it is essential to practice the correct technique.

One technique is the "yelp and gobble" method. Start by producing a series of yelps with the gobbler call, mimicking the sound of a hen. After a few yelps, abruptly transition to a gobble sound. This sudden change can grab the attention of nearby turkeys and trigger their curiosity, making them more likely to approach your location.

Another technique is the "gobbler shaker" method. This method involves shaking the gobbler call to create a realistic gobbling sound. Start by holding the call firmly and shaking it vigorously. The shaking motion should be quick and forceful to replicate the deep, resonating sound of a gobbler. This technique can be particularly effective during the spring mating season when gobblers are actively seeking hens.

Calling in Bad Weather

Turkey hunting in bad weather can be challenging, but it is not impossible. In fact, bad weather conditions can sometimes work to your advantage, as turkeys tend to be more vocal and actively seek cover during inclement weather. To effectively call turkeys in bad weather, consider the following tips:

  1. Increase the volume: Turkeys may have difficulty hearing your calls due to wind or rain. Therefore, it is crucial to increase the volume of your calls to make them more audible. Use a diaphragm call or a box call with a loud sound projection.

  2. Use aggressive calls: In bad weather, turkeys may be more cautious and hesitant to approach calls. To combat this, utilize aggressive calls such as cutting or aggressive yelping to grab their attention. These calls can mimic the behavior of a dominant hen and entice turkeys to investigate.

  3. Focus on natural cover: During bad weather, turkeys seek shelter in dense cover to protect themselves from the elements. Position yourself near natural cover, such as thick brush, trees, or a field edge, as turkeys are more likely to respond to calls when they feel secure.

Calling for Specific Turkey Behaviors

Turkey calling can be a versatile technique that goes beyond simply attracting turkeys. By utilizing specific calls, you can elicit certain behaviors from turkeys. Here are a few examples:

  1. Aggressive calling: If you want to provoke an aggressive response from a dominant gobbler, use aggressive calls such as aggressive yelping or cutting. These calls can trigger a territorial instinct in the gobbler, causing it to respond aggressively or come closer to defend its territory.

  2. Soft purring: Purring is a low, soft call that can be used when you want to calm or reassure turkeys. This call is effective when you encounter a flock that seems nervous or suspicious. Purring can help to ease their tension and make them more comfortable in your presence.

  3. Assembly call: An assembly call imitates the sound of a turkey gathering. This call is useful when you want to attract a group of turkeys or reunite scattered birds. By using an assembly call, you can mimic the sounds of multiple turkeys, creating a sense of safety and companionship that encourages others to join.

Remember, understanding the behavior of turkeys and using the appropriate calls can significantly enhance your turkey hunting success. Practice these advanced techniques and experiment with different calls to become a skilled turkey caller.

Turkey hunting is not just about the thrill of the chase or the satisfaction of a successful harvest. It is an art that requires skill, patience, and a deep understanding of the behavior and language of turkeys. Turkey calling is a crucial aspect of this art, allowing hunters to communicate with these elusive birds and lure them into range. Whether using mouth calls, box calls, or slate calls, mastering the art of turkey calling takes time and practice. It is a skill that can be honed and perfected, leading to more successful hunts and unforgettable experiences in the great outdoors. So, if you are a turkey hunter or have always been intrigued by the art of turkey calling, take the time to learn and master this age-old technique. Your hunting adventures will never be the same again.