Turkey Calls 101 | Which Turkey Call is Right for You?
Turkey calls come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and sounds. The turkey call operators do as well, resulting in a wide reaching spectrum of yelps, purrs, clucks, cutts, and putts that range from perfect imitations to…let’s just say ear bleeding! Turkey calling itself is an art form that takes cumulative days, weeks, and months of practice. However, the first step a turkey hunter needs to complete on the road to mastering turkey calling and hunting is selecting a turkey call to start with. This can be a daunting task with hundreds and thousands of turkey calls on the market.
Turkey Call Basics
To keep the process of selecting a turkey call for this spring’s season simple, we will go over the basics. Here is what you need to know to start. There are several different types of turkey calls; however, the most common are:
- Box Call – A turkey box call is a type of friction call that involves a traditional wooden box design with a thin edge and a wooden lid that is usually chalked to strike the edge of the box and initiate a call.
- Diaphragm Call – Turkey diaphragm calls (or mouth calls) are turkey calls that consist of a small horseshoe-shaped piece of plastic with latex stretched over a reed. Blowing air from the roof of the mouth across the reed initiates the call.
- Turkey Pot Call – A turkey pot call is a friction call that uses a “pot” that can have different surfaces from glass to slate and even metal. A “striker” is used to initiate the call when contacting the surface of the pot.
- Push-and-Pull Turkey Call – A push/pull turkey call is a simple call that involves pushing or pulling the striker plate while applying pressure on the paddle. The push/pull motion initiates the call.
The level of your turkey hunting and style, whether it be hunting from a blind, sitting behind a decoy, or more aggressive tactics of turkey reaping or fanning, will determine what call you will want to start with.
Selecting a Turkey Call
If you have hunted turkeys before, you already know your style. This determines what calls work well in what situations. For example, turkey reaping or fanning involves the aggressive approach of going head to head with a tom with the use of a strutting decoy. This requires a call to be used without hands resulting in an exclusive use of a diaphragm call. On the other hand, hunting from a blind or even on the ground with Realtree EDGE™ camo, leaves the call preference open as you have your hands readily available to bring birds in.
If you are a first-time turkey hunter, the easiest call will be a friction turkey call. These include turkey pot calls, box calls, and push/pull calls. These are fairly easy to use and are a good option when approaching your first spring turkey season. If you have graduated into your second plus year of turkey hunting, then you are already understanding the different tones, pitches, and uses of different calls, and can move on to mouth calls.
There is also an assortment of calls that can be essential when turkey hunting, but are not necessarily turkey calls. These mainly include locator calls. These are not to simulate turkeys, but are calls and sounds that will locate toms while roosting turkeys. Sounding off like an owl, hawk, pileated woodpecker, or crow all result in a tom shock gobbling. This becomes advantageous to locate a gobbler on his roost or locate which section of timber, holler, or field a gobbler will be in before you make your move on him.
Best Turkey Calls?
If you are at a point in turkey hunting where you understand the basics, then you also understand that with every year, turkey calls simply get better and better at providing a hunter with more ability to create a perfect imitation. With that knowledge, you understand that some of the best turkey calls on the market often are some of the newest calls on the market. New products almost always boast more innovation and are commonly designed to a higher quality. Additionally, new turkey calls developed by expert turkey hunters, like the Bone Collectors, have pleased the ears of both old toms and the pro hunters themselves. It is a safe assumption that these turkey calls have truly envisioned the title of the “best” as they break the ceiling of turkey calls in the industry by offering “industry-firsts”. The best turkey calls on the market, including turkey calls for beginners, are offered in the Bone Collector turkey calls.
The Bone Collector turkey calls have taken the expertise of professional turkey hunters and applied them to create several innovative calls. As you can imagine, each turkey call has a specific advantage over other calls in the same category.
The Lucky Lady Series Diaphragm Calls
The Lucky Lady series actually consists of three diaphragm calls – the Bombshell, GA Peach, and Knockout. This 3-pack is capable of making medium to loud raspy yelps, clucks, and purrs. If you’re a diaphragm turkey calling fan, you have to try these girls out this spring!
- Bombshell – Double Reed Hybrid V-Cut
- GA Peach – Bat Wing Cut
- Knockout – Triple Reed Hybrid Combo Cut
The Lil’ Lady Push/Pull Turkey Call
This hand-tuned and compact Lil’ Lady call is a truly hands-free turkey friction call. And while it can make soft, gentle purrs, it is also capable of producing cuts, clucks, yelps, and fighting purrs that will cut through windy conditions. With very slight movements of your finger, you can replicate a close-by hen to make the tom take those last few steps.
The Crystal Jenny Turkey Pot Call
The Crystal Jenny turkey pot call is Michael Waddell’s signature call for a reason – it actually works! The acrylic pot has a crystal surface, which produces an extremely clear and pure sound. Using the striker on this pot call creates extremely realistic sounds that will fool toms into thinking your decoy is a real jenny.
- Machined acrylic pot with crystal surface
- Includes a one-piece striker
- Very versatile in sound and volume
The Soggy Bottom Turkey Box Call
The Soggy Bottom turkey box call is a great call for changing weather conditions, which is common in most early season turkey hunts. It is constructed of multiple wood types and is equipped with a waterproofed paddle and striking surface to sound good no matter what kind of precipitation Mother Nature throws at you.
- Aluminum striking surface
- Knight and Hale’s Switchblade Technology
- Interchangeable with all Switchblade lids
The Locator Call Combo Pack
Don’t forget about those locator calls we talked about. This combo pack contains both The Detector and The Revealer calls, for a lower price point than buying them individually. The Detector call is a great weather resistant crow call that can produce raspy cawing sounds that trigger shock gobbles. For early mornings, The Revealer call is a weather resistant owl hooter call that is compact and lightweight, yet produces a realistic and loud owl call to fire a gobbler up.
Turkey Calling Tips
Now that you have a good idea of what call you want (or need), the time has come to apply the calls. Again, turkey calling is not something you will master in a day or even a week. It can take weeks of practice to imitate a turkey to the point of fooling a tom, and plenty more practice to become a master turkey caller.
While our turkey calling guide will give you some textbook advice on turkey calling, remember that at the end of the day it’s not called turkey calling. Turkey hunting is about hunting itself, letting your skills and instincts kick in to achieve success, not just relying on the calls. One last piece of advice from Michael Waddell himself on the subject…
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