The 3 Turkey Calls and Sounds You Should Know and Master
Before you do anything else, stop right now and look at the calendar. Turkey season is already here in some places across the country. That means you should be practicing and getting really good with your turkey calls right now. Get after it any spare moment you have. It might drive your family crazy temporarily, but they’ll understand, right? The more you can make your turkey hunting calls become a natural extension of your body, the easier it will be in the field when you’re trying to convince a call-shy gobbler to commit to those last 50 yards. That’s not the time to be experimenting with your new turkey call. Here are the sounds you need to know how to make and some great turkey calls to help you make them.
Turkey Sounds You Should Know
Regardless of what kind of turkey call you prefer to use (e.g., box call, slate call, mouth/diaphragm call), there are a few turkey sounds you should know how to make if you want to lure a gobbler into shooting range. In fact, for most spring turkey hunting seasons, you likely only need to know these three turkey calls to be successful. So check out the video below of Michael Waddell “talking turkey” and start practicing sooner than later.
Gobblers make yelps, just like hens do, but hen calls are usually higher pitched and faster than toms. They yelp to communicate with each other, and yelps are commonly used during the spring mating season (which is why it’s so important to master for turkey hunting). Hens usually make yelps in a series of 5 to 6 notes at a time, with pauses between sequences.
You can use box or slate turkey calls to replicate this sound, although mouth calls work fine too. As Michael states in the video, start with a higher pitch and round it down to a lower pitch at the end. You can play around with the timing and pitch to match what you’re hearing in the woods. For box calls, you can use the weight of the lid itself and just gently move it back and forth across the striking surface. You will need to practice the speed of this call, because if you slow a yelp down too much, you will produce a purring sound. That can also be effective in the right situation, but we’re focusing on producing the yelp.
A cluck is another basic turkey call you should know. Hens will use clucks to get the attention of other birds in the area, and are great for enticing gobblers to keep approaching. A cluck is usually delivered as a single short note, and may be combined into a series of yelps and clucks to sound realistic.
Again, slate calls or box calls are easy ways to replicate this sound. For slate calls, keep your hands locked in position and use your fingers to quickly move the striker in one direction. For box calls, you can quickly tap the side of the paddle to create the same sound, but hitting it too hard against the striking surface will produce a very sharp note that more resembles a cutt.
Cutting is a good name for this sound, as it is very harsh and you would think it would be an alarm call. But it usually just means turkeys are excited about something. A normal turkey cutting sequence would consist of a series of rapid, loud clucks, maybe mixed in with some yelps. Use the cutt when a boss hen is annoyed with your calls as it will challenge her and likely bring her in closer (potentially bringing a tom with her). Mimic her tone and speed and try to interrupt her. This call is also good to use if a gobbler is hung up out of shooting range.
Similar to the cluck, you can use a box or slate call for cutting. Just make the clucks at a faster pace and feel free to be more aggressive with it.
Turkey Calls for This Season
It’s easy to go overboard with turkey hunting gear because there’s a lot of great options out there. But you don’t need to go crazy about collecting turkey calls (unless that’s your hobby like us). These two Bone Collector turkey calls will help you make all the turkey hen sounds mentioned above and more. Try them out and get proficient with them before moving onto other calls.
Soggy Bottom Box Call
Be prepared for changing and wet weather conditions this spring with the Soggy Bottom box call by Bone Collector. The waterproof paddle and striking surface will work even when wet, which allows you to hunt even when the weather’s not great. Although it’s not always fun to hunt in the rain, turkeys still need to move around, and they tend to focus on open fields where they can see and hear what’s going on. This call is hand-tuned for consistent sounds and very easy to use.
Poplar Girl Slate Call
The Poplar Girl slate call is a great compact option for smaller hunters or for freeing up space in your turkey vest. Despite its small size, the poplar wood pot features a beautiful slate surface that is capable of making a deceivingly loud sound. It comes with an equally nice hickory striker to create just about any turkey call you would want to make.
Finally, while it’s important to know each of these sounds, you also need to learn how to mix them together for different situations. For example, if a gobbler is hanging up out of range or not reacting to one call, how would you switch things up to bring him in? Start practicing your turkey calls by mixing in yelps with single clucks and cutting, and you’ll be well-versed in turkey calling by the time the season opens. Soon enough, you’ll be in the field playing the awesome game of cat and mouse with a real bird, and you’ll be glad you took the time to practice.