Which Turkey Call Style is Right for Me?

In turkey hunting, calling the birds is not as difficult as many beginners think. The first thing a beginning hunter needs to do is select a call. There are three basic calls every hunter should know: the yelp, the cluck and the purr.

Turkey Call

The cluck, which is a single note sound that turkeys make while feeding, socializing or getting the attention of another bird, is probably the commonest. The yelp is a single note delivered in a series, and it can have multiple meanings: anger, surprise, or even socializing. The third sound every turkey hunting enthusiast should know is the purr, which is a soft, rolling sound. Much like a cat, a turkeys purr is a sign of contentment.

Now that you know the basic calls in turkey hunting, heres how they are produced:

  1. Box Call: this device was invented by Henry Dardanelle in 1897, and is made up of two bits of wood and the lid or striker and a coffin-shaped tone chamber. Both pieces are loosely fastened together with a screw at one end. The hunter plays the box call by lightly grasping the handle of the lid between the thumb and forefingers of one hand while holding it in the palm of the other hand.
  2. Slate Call: in turkey hunting, hunters rub a wood dowel on a flat piece of slate cradled in a wooden pot to produce various tones that imitate a wild turkey. The hunter makes high-pitched notes by striking around the outer edges of the pot. The softer, raspy tones are made by striking near the middle. In order to maximize friction between the dowel and the slate, hunters use fine-grit sandpaper or an abrasive pad to roughen the slate.
  3. Mouth Call: Also known as the diaphragm call, the mouth call is made up of an aluminum frame fitted with latex reeds that vibrate when air passes over them. Sometimes the reeds are cut in different shapes to produce different sounds. If you're new to turkey hunting, it's best to start off with straight, uncut reeds, and progress to the cut variety as you get better at calling.

Even with these call devices at your disposal, there are some days when you will not hear a peep in the woods only the maddening rustle of feathers and a few wing beats. Turkeys are often quiet on windy days. Toms will also tone down their gobbling as the breeding season winds down. At those times, it's best to resort to a series of quiet clucks and purrs: loud gobbling will seem unnatural to any turkeys nearby.

Hear Great Examples of Different Turkey Sounds Here