A Beginner’s Guide to Turkey Calls

Tips, Techniques, and Strategies for Successful Turkey Hunting

With opening day of turkey season approaching rather quickly, there are many tasks that need to be accomplished. Scouting, patterning your shotgun, and preparing your gear are all important, but one of the most important things you can do before the season is to get to know your calls. I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to be a world champion caller to harvest turkeys, but being a proficient caller is definitely a plus. So, let’s get those calls out and figure out what the heck we are doing. 

I recommend doing this at least a month before the season opener. The earlier the better. This gives you time to inspect your calls, condition them if needed, and replace any components that might need replacing. Most importantly, though, it gives you time to practice with them. This week I’ll be getting all the calls out of my vest and start making some noise. In light of this fact, I thought it would beneficial to discuss the three types of calls that I carry in my vest and the way that I like to use them!

Box Call

The classic box call is what many of us learned to use as new turkey hunters. It’s direct, easy to use, and often effective, making it a great option to have in your vest. This call can be loud and sharp, making it a great locator call. It’s often my number one option for when I’m trying to strike a gobbler on a silent day. The volume and sharpness of the call cuts wind and carries further than any other call in my vest. 

The box call isn’t only a loud locator call though, it can be toned down a touch and used as a finishing call. You can manipulate the paddle strokes to make different sounds such as quieter yelps and cut and clucks. One disadvantage however, is that the hand movement involved makes this a tougher finishing call for those that like a hands-free option. 

Pot Call

One of my most favorite calls that I carry in my turkey vest has to be my pot call. From the array of sounds that can be made to the very material that the call is made of, this call is the definition of versatility. A pot call could be made from slate, glass, or even aluminum and each material creates a slightly different sound. They are also more compact than a box call and easier to store in the vest. However, this call needs to be scratched and conditioned periodically so there is some modest level of maintenance. 

My crystal pot call gets a ton of use. Firstly, I like to use it to locate birds. It can be loud and sharp making it a great option to cut wind, but it can also be dialed down softly to finish a bird. Beware there is some hand movement involved, so set the call down when you know the gobbler is coming. This past turkey season was truly a testament to this call’s versatility. I located one gobbler and harvested two only using this call. You bet I’m going to use it again this year. 

Diaphragm Call

Finally, the last type of call that I carry in my vest is the diaphragm, or mouth, call. There is a lot more skill and practice needed to be proficient with this call when compared to the two mentioned previously. You also have to get past a mild gag reflex. But if you can push through and get many hours of practice in, you can run the most versatile turkey call there is. 

You can make so many different sounds with a diaphragm call, and there is something about a call that has chest and breath behind it. It sounds more realistic. This is also the only call that is a truly hands-free option, meaning that you can cluck and yelp all the way to the point of pulling the trigger. I am no expert mouth caller, but I love playing with them. And when you learn one good enough to put on a realistic display for a gobbler and bring him in to shooting range, there is truly no better feeling. 

Get the calls out and get to practicing. The season is basically here and it is impossible to be over-prepared!

Published March 21st by Will Bowen, Okayest Hunter Contributor

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