An important skill involved in turkey hunting is the ability of the hunter to learn the wild turkey vocabulary. This knowledge allows the hunter to imitate the turkey sounds in an attempt at luring in a gobbler.
Turkey vocabulary from a hunting point of view revolves around each sound that the turkey makes, understanding what the sounds mean, and how to use this information in the field.
Although there are many turkey sounds, the below list is the most commonly heard. Some of the sounds, such as the yelp, have different variations.
To listen to how these sounds are made by real turkeys, live wild turkey sounds at the NWTF.org.
Understanding Turkey Sounds
Turkeys, for the most part, make noise almost constantly under relaxed conditions. The purr and cluck are used to show contentment.
The yelp is used in different situations such as while on the roost, when attempting to locate other turkeys, during the breeding season as an attractant for gobblers, or while tending to daily activities.
The cutt is a more explosive and excited sound. Although not exclusive to the breeding period, it is used by hens during this time to draw attention from gobblers.
The cackle is used as the hens fly up to and down from their roosting tree.
The putt is used as an alarm call to acknowledge some form of danger.
The gobble is often heard during the spring in response to sounds made by the hen.
How To Use Turkey Sounds
Turkey calls can be used to make the sounds of a turkey. This requires the hunter to become proficient with the call.
In most cases, learning when to call and what sound to make is more important than sounding perfect.
This knowledge will allow the turkey hunter an increased chance at being successful in the hunting field.
The diaphragm turkey call has become one of the most popular calls to date. The call provides the hunter with the ability to produce all sounds made by the wild turkey. There are many varieties of the diaphragm call on the market. For the most part these differences are based upon the type and amount of reeds. Here is a look at these reeds.
Thin reeds will aid the caller in making easier notes. The reeds are easier to blow air through. The different sounds made by thin reeds are a result in the number of reeds on the call.
Thicker reeds generally produce a louder sound. The are harder to master due to added amount of air flow needed to correctly make turkey sounds.
Notched or split reeds are intended to create a more raspy sound when cutting or cackling.
Single reed calls are the easiest to use and are excellent for beginners. They make good yelps and clucks. They have clear tones. They require less air flow to use properly.
Double reed calls provide more note action. They generally provide higher volume and tones. They offer a more coarse sound and are raspier than single reeds. They allow for better cutting and cackling sounds. They are good for beginners but do require a little more practice.
Three or more reeds are raspier sounding and bring more excitement and volume to the call. The are very beneficial in expanding turkey sounds. They are harder to use and intended for more experienced callers.
Stacked reeds create intense cutting and cackling sounds. They are generally raspier like an older hen. They produce higher volumes. They are better for experienced callers as they require a longer time to master.
If new to using mouth calls it is best to start with a single or double thin reed call. As calling abilities increase experimenting with additional reeds, splits, or stacks can be helpful in perfecting more sounds.
Diaphragm turkey calls are usually the clearest and most realistic sounding of all calls. They are harder to learn but with enough practice can be perfected. The results of being proficient will usually be worth the additional time needed.
Turkey Hunting Tips: Ever listened to a turkey calling contest in person or on television? The callers try to produce as clear, crisp, and asperfect sounding notes as humanly possible.
Now have you ever heard a real hen turkey in the wild? They are just talking naturally with many odd notes or tones. The differences are related to calling perfection. On the callers part, not the hens.
In the wild it is not uncommon to hear a live hen making less than perfect sounds. They will squeak, squeal, sound off key, pause in mid call, go up and down in volume, sound almost hoarse, or simply just sound bad.
In many cases hunters new to turkey hunting, or even those that have some experience, can be afraid when it comes time to call in a gobbler. Sure they call a few times, but if they hit a wrong or imperfect note, they suddenly clam up.
The only way to become a successful turkey calling hunter is to stick with it. Everyone can and does make mistakes. Even the turkeys.
Sure it is important to practice and become proficient with the calls of choice. But an occasional blooper is normal. Just keep going with the sequence as if nothing happened.
In some instances, making an additional squeal or squeak may be what gets the gobblers attention and response. The imperfect sound may make him sound off when the perfect one didn’t.
So keep on clucking and yelping and let those imperfection build confidence in the turkey hunting field.
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The diaphragm call is considered one of the best types of calls used for turkey hunting. It allows the hunter to make any turkey sound. It is only limited by the skill of the user.
What Is It
The diaphragm call is a small horseshoe shaped piece of metal surrounded by a rubber cover. It has thin latex reeds which aid in producing sounds. There may be one or more reeds. The diaphragm is made to fit inside the upper roof of the mouth.
How They Work
The diaphragm is inserted into the roof of the mouth. The tongue is placed against the diaphragm. The user then blows air from the chest. The air circulates through the reeds and produces sounds. By changing the pressure applied by the tongue, the sounds will change. The amount of air flow will also affect the sounds.
The amount of reeds will dictate the type of tone that a diaphragm produces. A single reed will make a clearer tone. As the number of reeds increases, the diaphragm becomes more raspy. This allows the hunter the ability to experiment to find a sound that best meets individual needs.
Tips For Use
The diaphragm call is not easy to master. It will in most cases be harder to learn than any other call. However, with patience and continued practice, hunters of all ages can become proficient.
One important thing to know is that the diaphragm works best when fitted to the individual users mouth. It should be a tight fit in the upper mouth. This can be obtained by trimming the outer edges of the call until it fits properly.
The key to success with a diaphragm call is practice. It will take time, but when mastered, it will be well worth the time and effort.
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The striker friction call, also known as the pot and peg call, is another valuable tool for turkey hunting. These calls can be used to produce all turkey sounds. With a little practice, they can be easily used.
The striker call has a small pot like chamber with flat top surface. The flat surface can be made of a variety of materials. These materials may include slate, glass, aluminum, or other materials. A striker or peg is used to create sound. The striker also comes in a variety of materials such as wood, graphite, and others.
How It Works
A striker call works by using the striker or peg to apply friction or pressure to the pot’s upper flat surface. It is a two handed turkey call. The striker can produce soft or loud volume sounds depending upon how much pressure is applied. They are very versatile to use.
The tones or pitches of a striker call are changed by both what the pot surface is made of or they type of striker that is used. By simply changing from a wooden striker to a carbon striker, the call will produce a completely different sound. The same goes with using different pot surface materials. Its like mocking two different hens. This is very helpful in the turkey field.
When using a striker call, make sure to keep the pot surfaces sanded. This can be done with extra fine sand paper or an abrasive pad. Lightly sand across the surface top in one direction making a rough feel. Draw the striker across the surface against the newly formed grains. This will keep good friction between the surface and the striker.
Make sure to practice often in order to improve on skill levels. The striker friction call is useful to anyone in the turkey hunting field but is especially helpful for those unable to use other type calls.
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The box call is one of the oldest tools used to call in turkeys. They are relatively simple to learn and are very versatile. They can make all sounds in the turkey vocabulary. Box calls are used by both beginners and veteran turkey hunters.
Grains And Sizes
Box calls can come in a variety of wood grains and sizes ranging from small compact to extra large. The grain and size differences impact the volume and pitch of the calls. The tighter the wood grain is the higher pitched the box call will be.
How They Work
Box calls make sounds when the top paddle is moved across the rail sections of the box. Increasing or decreasing the pressure will change what sounds are made. The pressure affects both the volume and the pitch. Less pressure equals lower volumes. More pressure equals higher volumes.
The main thing to remember about maintaining box calls is keeping the friction steady. Repeated use will cause the paddle or rails to wear down. This will reduce the friction between the two resulting in poor sounds. A dry sponge with an abrasive side can be used to lightly sand the underside of the paddle and the rails. This should be done at the beginning of the season and throughout when needed. The box call should also be re-chalked after sanding using chalk made specifically for box calls.
The only other issue to be concerned with is keeping the box call dry. It does not function properly when wet. So it is important to remember this if turkey hunting during wet weather.
Skill And Practice
As with any call, practice makes perfect. The more time spent using the call, the better the skill level will be. Use a video and listen to turkey vocals to learn how each sounds. Then practice until each purr, cluck, yelp, cutt, etc is mastered.
The box call is an excellent tool to use in the field. The key is mastering its use through practice and understanding when to make what sound. Remember that the box call requires two hands to operate. So the hunter should be careful once the gobbler gets close.
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A locator call is used to find the locations of gobbler turkeys. It is a tool that mocks the sounds of other creatures found in the wild. These calls are designed to make a gobbler shock gobble. They can be used prior to sunrise and throughout the the day.
Using Locator Calls
The use of locator calls while turkey hunting will only benefit the hunter and should be used. In many cases, this call will be the first call to be used at the beginning of the hunt. Regardless of which locator call, it can often be used successfully to get a response.
Using a locator call rather than a turkey call at times is more helpful to the hunter. It will give up the turkeys position without having the turkey think there is a hen nearby. This allows the hunter the chance at moving in closer for a better set up. It also reduces the chances of a gobbler that is close by suddenly flying in on a hunter and being spooked.
The only way to find out which locator call will work best is to experiment. Don’t be afraid to use call sounds normally heard at nightly hours during the middle of the day. For example, an owl hooter can be just as effective in the afternoon as before sunrise. The key is trying a variety in any given area.
Start out by making soft notes. Keep the sequences short. After a few minutes without response, increase the volume. Continue to keep the sequences short. This will help in reducing the chances of drowning out a responding gobble sound. Listen for any response that may occur and try to get a good idea of which direction the gobble came from.
Types Of Locator Calls
- Owl hooter
- Crow call
- Coyote call
- Hawk call
- Peacock call
- Woodpecker call
As with any call, the key to success is using it properly. Spend time practicing and learning the skills needed.
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On any given day in the turkey hunting field one can hear a wide variety of calling techniques. Some hunters are loud and aggressive. Others are soft and infrequent. The key to turkey calling success, for the most part, depends on how the gobbler responds to the calling.
There will be different gobbler responses depending upon many variables. These variables may include the type of call being used, call sequences, volume, time of day, or whether or not the gobbler is with hens. However, the most important factor is the mood that the gobbler is in.
A good hunter is wise to let the gobbler determine how to call to him. This will change from one gobbler to another, as generally no two gobblers will react the same. This can also be different from day to day. A certain calling tactic that worked on one gobbler may not work on another.
There is no perfect way to call a gobbler. Each day in the woods can and often does end with different results. Some days a gobbler may prefer only to respond to a particular calling technique. Then there will be days that a gobbler may respond to a variety of calling styles.
The key to turkey calling is allowing the gobbler to dictate how the hunter calls. Be willing to experiment with different styles until one is found that works on that individual turkey.
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Turkey Hunting Tips: There are many situations that can occur while turkey hunting that require the hunter to experiment with different calling tactics. Although there is not an official blueprint on calling turkeys, the hunter can use a variety of turkey calling tips to help bring a gobbler into a set up location.
Ten Turkey Calling Tips:
Tip 1: To start off at the beginning of the day, use soft yelps and clucks to see if nearby gobblers will respond. If they do, continue this style of calling until the gobbler makes his way in. Try three to five soft clucks followed by five to seven soft yelps. Don’t over call as this may send turkeys away.
Tip 2: If the gobbler is coming in to soft yelps and clucks but hangs up, add in a few cutting or cackling calls to the sequence. This will often get the gobbler fired up and excited enough to come the rest of the way in.
Tip 3: When gobblers hang up just outside of range, try using clucks and purrs instead of yelps. This is a sign of contentment and will often bring the gobbler the final way in.
Tip 4: When gobblers refuse to come all the way into a set up location, stop calling for a few minutes. Relocate to the left or right of the gobbler, change calls, and try calling again. Often changing up a little will result in the gobbler having a better response.
Tip 5: When starting a calling sequence, face away from the direction in which the turkeys are anticipated to come from. This gives the impression of being farther away, which will help in disguising the hunters exact location.
Tip 6: Try using two calls at the same time to fire up stubborn gobblers. A box or friction call mixed with a diaphragm call for example, will give the impression of two hens instead of just one.
Tip 7: When hunting close to roosting trees, try to use soft yelps and clucks. Loud or aggressive calling that are close to turkeys often will send them away instead of bringing them in.
Tip 8: When hunting henned up gobblers, try to follow along close to the flock without being detected. Use soft clucks and purrs. This may bring the flock into range. If this fails, try to circle around and get ahead of the turkeys. Then start the clucks and purrs calling again.
Tip 9: If the gobbler is coming to turkey calls, often it is best to stop calling once the gobblers gets within fifty yards or so. However, if the gobbler refuses to come any further, start calling again using soft clucks.
Tip 10: The most important turkey calling tip is to practice and become proficient with turkey calling techniques. Learn to use various types of calls. There are many available such as mouth diaphragm calls, box calls, friction calls, and others. There are many instructional DVDs to help with learning.
So use these turkey hunting tips to become a better turkey hunter and increase the chances for success.
Turkey Hunting Tips: The basic objective in turkey hunting is to be able to bring a gobbler into the hunter’s set up location. This at times can be somewhat difficult. Assuming the hunter has an approximate location of where the gobbler is, he has to be fairly proficient with turkey calls. This does not mean however, that he has to be a world champion turkey caller to be successful. Two basic turkey sounds, the purr and the cluck, can be used just as well as yelps, cutting, and cackling to bring turkeys in.
The purr and cluck sounds made by turkeys express safety, contentment, and calmness. All three are excellent qualities. Other turkeys that here these sounds will be more relaxed and more likely to be drawn in to these sounds. By learning to use them, the hunter can take advantage of times when yelping and cutting are not working.
The slate and striker type is probably one of the best callers that a hunter can use to make the purr and cluck sounds. Pulling the striker across the slate in a slow steady motion creates a natural purring sound. Applying a little pressure to the striker and pulling it across the slate in short half inch strokes can produce the clucking sound.
Many times using the purr and cluck will bring a leery old gobbler in when other calling techniques will not. Sure they may not get all fired up and gobble all the way, but they come in none the less. This of course is the goal of the hunter in the first place.
The hunter that locates a flock of turkeys can often use the purr and cluck to call in the hens and gobblers. The boss hen will at times bring the flock in the direction due to the calming effect. This is because the hen does not feel threatened. Whereas using a yelping call in this situation could be a signal of a challenge to the boss hen. Often if this occurs, the boss hen will simply take the flock, including the gobblers, away from the area.
Try using these turkey hunting tips related to the purr and cluck the next time in the field. They may provide the hunter with an opportunity at success.