What Turkey Hunting Calls To Use, When
Turkey hunting calls for various situations and applications
By Greg Tubbs | PUBLISHED February 28th, 2022
Here we are at the end of winter! The sports shows are starting. Ice fishing is still happening. Maybe we get out and shoot a few rabbits yet? Or.. If you're a hard-core whitetail hunter. That white gold is all you are thinking of! "Walking miles for piles" might be your primary focus. While some of us are thinking of Spring thunder.
Time to break out the Turkey calls and start driving your wife and kids crazy! No wife and kids? No problem! Your co-workers will go crazy too! At Least mine did. I would drive between jobs with a diaphragm call in my mouth. Yelping, clucking, and purring while driving down the road. The diaphragm call can be challenging to master. A Slate is a great call for an array of tones. The Box call is the best for beginners but can be a little limiting. Then there's the nostalgic, wing bone call! It takes lots of practice but can be effective.
Diaphragm calls can be a little challenging to master at first. Especially if you have a terrible gag reflex. Practice makes perfect. You'll learn to get used to it or find another means of making the sounds required. I learned by simply putting it in and working it as I drove between service calls. You learn to force air between your pallet while pushing up with your tongue. This proves a little tricky at first. Once you get past the gag reflex. Work on effectively moving air past that diaphragm. I am no contest caller, but I use this call most effectively when I have birds in range and need both hands on my gun. Practicing my up close and personal voice is essential. Soft clucks and content purrs will often get birds in for the kill. Okayest Hunter tip: Bring more than one of these with you. Chances are. You will get tired of having this in your mouth. When you pull it out and set it on your leg. It WILL fall in the dirt or get lost. Have a backup just in case! They are small and pack easily. Also, drink plenty of water!
Slate Turkey Calls
Slate or "Pot" calls are a great, finesse call to have. In fact, I rarely hunt without one in my vest. You can get really soft or really loud with the slate call. Pots And their strikers are made of many different combinations of materials. Oak, Hickory, Walnut, Slate, and various acrylics are popular materials. The various sized holes and the different strikers will determine what the music sounds like. Slate vs. Polycarbonate are different tones. All I can say is. Try different Pots with other strikers and see what the birds like best. Learn techniques like the "J" or working small circles. Like humans, birds have different tones to their voices.
Rainstorms will hinder performance, so it is essential to keep your calls dry! Our good friend, Matt Streim over at Weathered Oaks game calls. Makes some beautiful, hand-crafted calls in just about any combination you could want to make a variety of different tones. Weathered Oaks can be found on Instagram and Facebook.
Box Turkey Calls
My first call was an H.S. Strut "Natural" box call I got from the bargain bin at Fleet Farm when I was 14! I could make yelps and clucks on it easily. According to the instructions. If you left the rubber band on it. You could imitate a gobble! It sort of worked but wasn't very loud. The Yelp was the most audible call I could emulate. I killed my second gobbler with it. The call was on the ground as I sat ever so still while two gobblers and a jake picked their way through the fence row at 8 yards. I attempted to make a quiet purr, and they stopped right next to me. A quick swinging shot put the bird into a flopping heap of feathers almost at my feet! If I am running and gunning. I don't care to carry this call around. It's just a personal preference.
The oldest man-made turkey call is the Wing bone call. Native Americans would build these from the turkeys' wing's Radius, Ulna, and Humerus bones. All three bones are cut, dried, sanded to shape, and fitted together with glue to make an old-school Yelper! These calls are still custom-made to this very day! They can be fundamental (like the one I have) or very intricate and collectible works of art. Wing bones are limited in their sound vocabulary and can be difficult to master without practice. To properly play this horn. You play it the exact opposite way of a horn! You suck air through it through pursed lips. Getting the right amount of lip tension and sucking the correct amount is critical to your success with this. Seasoned turkey killers swear that this call works when others fail to raise a gobble. I can't speak to success with the bone. I was given one as a Christmas present one year and never gave it much thought until a few years ago. I started driving my wife nuts with it one day while unpacking in the basement of our new house. The more I practiced. The better I got! It would totally work!
Vocal Turkey Hunting Calling
Try learning to call with your own vocal cords for those looking for extra bonus points. This takes lots of practice and plenty of water to keep your throat wet. The yelps come from deep in your throat. Clucks are a cutoff yelp (I haven't been able to master this yet). Purrs involve noise from your throat and the use of your Uvula. I figured out the Purr just by listening to the live Hens I had in front of me. They would purr while scratching the ground in content, looking for food. I would purr back to keep them involved in the conversation. They stuck around for 20 minutes until the wary gobbler pulled them away, just out of range (70 yards). I couldn't quite make the purrs that soft with a diaphragm call. The Pot call would have required movement in little to no cover.
Like anything else, there are plenty of things to obsess over when you get bit by the bug. Calling is something to obsess about real easily. Practice makes perfect, no doubt. Making the right sounds is vital. Get proficient with whatever your method is for making the clucks and purrs of the hen Eastern Turkey.