Turkey Calling For Beginners

by Justin Davis

When getting started in turkey hunting, most hunters have many questions; what gun to use, decoys and there set up, how to call, and what calls to use. Calling turkeys is not as difficult as most hunters think. With the market flooded with calls and more produced everyday, it can be hard to find out where a new hunter should start.

When taking up the sport and learning to call, the first thing a hunter needs to do is to select a call. With hundreds of calls on the market you will find that just about every turkey hunter will give you different advice on which call is the one to buy. When selecting your call, go to a sporting goods store that allows you to try the call. You will find some calls are easier for you to produce sound with. The cost of a call doesn’t mean it will call more turkeys, I have harvested more turkeys with bargain bin calls than I have with hundred dollar calls. Beginning hunters should look for push button calls, box calls, or pot calls. These calls are easier to use than mouth calls. When you find calls that work well for you buy one of each type of call. It is nice to have a variety for calls in the field for those birds that are looking for a slightly different sound.

Now that you have your call, you're ready to get down to the business of learning how to sweet talk that big tom. Most spring turkeys get fooled using very few calls. You don’t need to be fluent in turkey-speak to fool that old tom. There are three basic and easy calls that every hunter should know; the cluck, the yelp, and the purr. With these three calls you will have them strutting in . The cluck is probably the most common turkey sound heard in the spring turkey woods. The cluck is a single note sound that turkeys make while socializing, feeding, or getting the attention of another bird.

 Turkey Cluck Audio Sound – Courtesy of nwtf.org Copyright 2008

The second call every hunter should have in their bag of tricks is the yelp, a single note delivered in a series. This call can have multiple meanings from surprise, anger, and socializing. With the yelp, it is not so much what you say, its how you say it. Tone, volume, and how fast you string together your notes make this call different. Just like in conversation, speaking fast, yelling, or sounding aggravated conveys emotion. Yelping in the same fashion conveys the same emotions.

Turkey Yelp Audio Sound – Courtesy of nwtf.org Copyright 2008

The third call every hunter should know when entering the turkey woods, is the purr. Just as it sounds, the purr is a soft rolling sound like a cat purr. The purr is a sign of contentment. It is a soft sound which often can be heard when feeding and can reassure a bird as it gets closer to your location.

Purr Audio Sound – Courtesy of nwtf.org Copyright 2008

Now that you have knowledge of the calls that will help you be successful, you need to now learn how to make them. The first thing to remember when learning to call is that, just like every person every turkey and every call will sound different. The best way to learn your calls is to mimmic the sounds you hear. Not every one has a wild turkey at their disposal. My trick for keeping my calling sharp in the off season is to find wild turkey sounds online and to listen and copy the sounds I hear over my computer. It is a great way to hear a turkey's vocalization clear, crisp, and repeatedly so you can practice it over and over. Another great way to understand and hear turkey calls, is to look up hunting videos on the internet. With the influx of websites that allow video posting, there are thousands of hunting videos available. Each of those hunts have turkeys in their natural environment. You can hear and see what turkeys are doing while calling and you can see how they react to the hunter's calls. This is a great resource. You can get seasons of experience without taking off you your slippers.

Now that you have picked your call, learned the three basic calls and practiced and researched what each call means and when to use it, it is time to head into the woods prepared to fool an old tom. After getting set up and hearing the toms start to gobble on the roost, you're excited to start calling. A few for clucks are always a good way to start. If that old tom fires back with a thunderous gobble, hold your lip and let him wait. Remember, you want him to come to you. Wait to see if he gobbles again. Wait ten minute and softly cluck again. Calling is a give and take game. You want to peak his interest enough to get him to come look for you. If you respond too quickly, the tom will think you are looking for him and he will stay put and wait for you. That's not a situation that leads to success.

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Meet Justin Davis:

Justin started his obsession with the outdoors at a young age. At the age of six, he began tagging along with his dad, Don. Don taught him everything he knows about hunting whitetails, but Justin had the opportunity to return the favor when they began hunting turkeys. 
With a gun or a bow, Justin loves to pursue whitetails, wild turkeys, small game, upland birds, and varmints. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and passion for the outdoors with others and he looks forward to passing his love of hunting on to his son.