hunter in camo

7 Turkey Calling Tips to Keep in Mind This Season

While you are planning your turkey hunting trips this year, take a moment to think about your turkey calls. You’ll need extreme precision and care to adequately outfit your turkey hunting gear, examine your firearm and perfect the quality of your calls. 

If you haven't had much success this turkey hunting season, one of these seven turkey calling tips may help draw some unsuspecting gobblers your way.

1. Be the early bird.

A lot of hunters don't recommend calling to birds up in their roosts, but there is something to be said for letting the toms know where the party is before they take to wing. A roosted bird may stay put if called too early, but if he's just getting ready to leave the roost, you might be able to lead him your way.

If there are hens in the roost, you can make some noise. With the right kind of call, they might just stumble over one another to get to you.

2. Make some noise.

Locator calls are perfect for eliciting that shocked gobble from a tom. To pinpoint his location, make a loud call that will scare the bird into making noise. 

Crows and owls are standard, but you could also try more unusual calls like woodpeckers or sandhill cranes. At dusk, a coyote call is instrumental. Also, consider an elk bugle for western birds. 

If a turkey only responds once after a usual crow call, amp it up or switch it up for a better response.

3. Give them everything you've got.

If it's the middle of the afternoon and nothing is gobbling, try everything in your arsenal. You should always pack a friction call and a box call in your turkey hunting clothes. Use them both liberally as needed. 

Try and switch to a mouth call when you are zeroing in on a gobbling tom. A mouth call will help you work hands-free. If a tom responds to a box call, mouth call directly afterward. If he doesn't gobble after the mouth call, go back to the box call. 

Switch back and forth until he's responding to the mouth call, and then you can work him in by hand.


turkey call

4. Rile them up.

Even the most prominent hen calls won't budge a tom once he's set his feet. But he might start moving again if he thinks there is some competition. Jake calls will make a tom mad and less cautious.

Some hunters don't use decoys as much as they do calls. Jake calls are excellent inciters, perhaps more so than hens. 

Jake or gobbler yelps sound like hen yelps, but they are longer and deeper. Fighting purrs are also useful. You can make these on a pot call using one side and then the other. 

An expert tip is to beat a turkey wing on your leg or the ground. If a tom thinks there's a scuffle over the hen, he'll be right over to see what's going on.

5. Enunciate every call.

When you watch a hen, she will open her beak with every yelp. To call successfully, you need to enunciate each sound you make. Many novice callers blend all the sounds, but when you look at a turkey talking to another turkey, there's a distinct separation of tones. 

The first step to becoming an efficient mouth-caller is to practice the basic turkey sounds with the correct cadence and rhythm.

6. Don't bite the call.

When you're first learning to call, use a single or double reed call. Make sure the tape has an excellent seal on the roof of your mouth.

When you bite down, instead of creating a seal, push air up from your lungs rather than releasing air from your diaphragm. There shouldn't be much air coming from your lungs. If you hold a handkerchief in front of a professional caller’s mouth, it won't even flutter. 

Practice in front of a mirror. When you've perfected the look of snapping a beak open and shut, you're ready to call.

7. Always be coy.

When a tom finally answers back to a call, many get overly excited and respond vigorously, but this isn't the best course of action. Wait a little while to make him curious. 

Gobblers have been known to be stubborn and persistent, so it isn't out of character for a tom to dig his nails in and wait for the eager hen to come to him. Additionally, if you call too much, there's a chance that a real hen will strut up to your tom and the gig will be up.

Instead, go for soft calls or silence. The tom's curiosity can become an excellent weapon. 

thanksgiving turkey strutting

Source: Jeffrey B. Banke /


The Take-Home Message

When you're out hunting for turkey this season, keep your calls varied, use mouth calls and be coy once you've got the toms interested. A tom's curiosity and jealousy will serve you better than persistent calling.

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