Selecting the Best Turkey Calls
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 days, weeks, and months of practice. However, the first step a turkey hunter must 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:
The 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.
The Diaphragm Call – Turkey diaphragm calls are turkey calls that are a horseshoe-shaped 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.
Photo: Legendary Turkey Hunters: David Hale, Harold Knight, and Michael Waddell
Selecting a Turkey Call
If you have turkey hunted 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 the ground with Realtree Xtra® Green 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 master 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.
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 calls and sounds that will locate toms. Sounding off a like an owl, hawk, pileated woodpecker, and crow all result in a tom 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 generally 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 always boast more innovation but are commonly made of a higher quality as more expectations call for an even better call. Additionally, new turkey calls developed by expert turkey hunters, like the Beard Collectors (AKA the Bone Collectors), have pleased the ears of both old toms and the pro hunters themselves. It is a safe assumption to make 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 new Bone Collector Turkey Calls by Knight and Hale®.
The new Bone Collector turkey call series has taken the expertise of legendary turkey hunters and applied them to create 6 new calls. These turkey calls include the Deadly Diva Diaphragm Call Series, The Turkey Magnet Push/Pull Call, The Canyon Cutter Aluminum over Acrylic Pot Call, and the Razors Edge Aluminum Sided Box Call. As you can imagine, each turkey call has a specific advantage over other calls, not to mention a legendary turkey hunter that can explain the reasoning.
The Turkey Magnet Push/Pull Turkey Call
Designed by Bone Collector’s T-Bone Turner, the turkey magnet is a common sense innovation that is truly the first hands-free turkey friction call. The clear advantage this call offers besides its realistic yelps, clucks, and purrs, is the magnet that can safely and securely attach the call to your shotgun. With just very slight movements of your finger, you can replicate a close by the hen to make the tom take those last few steps.
- Designed by Bone Collector’s T-Bone Turner
- Yelp, cluck, and purr with both hands on your gun in shooting position
- Attaches to steel receiver shotguns via rare earth magnets
- Stays attached when shooting most magnum shells
- Comes off easily without leaving residue or attachments on your gun
The Deadly Diva Series Diaphragm Calls
The Deadly Diva Series was designed by Michael Waddell himself, resulting in the most dangerous mouth calls on the market. Composed of the Ready Rita, Trashy Trina, and Lonesome Linda, the Deadly Diva Series is a trio of calls. One is loud and raspy, one edgy and easy, and one is simply a flexible manipulator! If you’re a diaphragm turkey calling fan, you have to try these girls out this spring!
- Ready Rita: Ready Rita is big, loud, and raspy. Using an extra light latex makes her easier to blow than most triple reed calls and multiple cuts on individual reeds give her the realistic rasp of a bossy old hen.
- Trashy Trina: Trashy Trina is edgy, easy, and dangerous. Her triple reed gives her the advanced reach that experienced hunters crave, and her batwing cut gives her an extremely raspy tone. Perfect for long distance yelping and cutting.
- Lonesome Linda: Lonesome Linda is an extremely versatile diaphragm call that can easily switch between yelps, cuts, clucks and purrs. Her double reed makes her easy to manipulate, but it’s her complex fang cut that makes her so dangerous. A great call for intermediate and experienced callers.
The Canyon Cutter Aluminum Over Acrylic Turkey Pot Call
The Canyon Cutter turkey pot call was designed by Bone Collector’s Nick Mundt. This call, in particular, is one derived from a need to get loud! The Canyon Cutter reaches high pitch but heavy volume, giving it just enough oomph to get the sound to gobblers across the wind, canyons, hollers, trees, and difficult weather conditions.
- CRAFTED ACRYLIC
- Dense acrylic sheeting, combining the craftsmanship of wood with the consistency of plastic and providing a volume greater than either.
- Unique consistency, durability, resonance, and aesthetic.
The Razors Edge Aluminum Sided Turkey Box Call
Another turkey call designed by Michael Waddell, the Razors Edge is an entirely unique turkey box call. For the first time in the industry, the call features an aluminum striking surface on one side of the traditional box design. This gives the call literally an “edge” up on the competition that you have to hear for yourself.
- Aluminum striking surface
- Knight and Hale’s Switchblade Technology
- Interchangeable with all Switchblade lids
Turkey Calling Tips
Now that you have a good idea of what call you want/need, the time has arrived to apply the calls. Again, turkey calling is not something you will master in a day or even a week, it will take weeks and months to imitate a turkey to the point of fooling a tom.
While the 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.