Every spring the calm, cool mornings erupt with the gut wrenching, heart pounding sounds of spring’s thunder chickens in the foggy distance. If you were to ask any turkey hunter why they return to the woods every spring to chase a single bird that can be bought over the counter for a fraction of the price, the answer would be simple. Pure passion and adrenaline of outwitting a mature gobbler in one of the best times of year to admire nature. We dug through the archives to bring you some great tips on how to use the different types of turkey calls.
When deciding how you will approach targeting a wild turkey it is best to look at them as a big game species. Many relate hunting spring turkeys to chasing bugling bulls in the fall. With that in mind it is important to understand your species of turkey and how they communicate throughout the spring. Although their reaction to calling varies throughout the season and depending on how much hunting pressure they receive, knowing the basic calling techniques can make all the difference in the woods. The four main types of calls that are used in the turkey woods are a box, slate, diaphragm and locator call. These calls each shine in their own realm and work better than others in certain situations.
For most beginners the easiest calls to master are the box and push-button calls. Mastering the yelp and cut sounds are the two most basic calls you will come across. The box designs allows for the sound to be amplified and projected across a field or through the woods. Different types of wood and designs create different tones and pitches. These options are useful in situations where a very popular call has been used in an area where birds have been educated due to high pressure and over calling. Mixing up your calls will allow you to create an unfamiliar sound. A push-button call typically has a lower quality sound but is as simple as it sounds. Push the button to create friction inside the call to create the pitch and call desired. This is often a beginner call that does not handle moisture and other elements well. If you struggle creating a quality call from a box, this would be a basic fall back that will help you learn the basics.
A second type of hand call is a slate call. These calls, also known as pot calls, can be made from slate, glass, ceramic or other materials. These calls allow you to create multiple sounds including yelps, cuts and purrs. This type of call requires proper hand placement and technique with a striker. For best results in the field, practice daily to hone in your skills with these calls.
As the birds get closer, it is important to remain as still as possible. Because of their fantastic eyesight, minimal movement will ensure you do not get busted by the wary tom or hen. In a situation where you need to maintain their attention, a diaphragm call, also known as a mouth call, would be recommended. This is the most difficult call to master and it is often the most used by experienced hunters due to its ability in creating multiple calls including yelps, cuts and purrs with little to no movement with your hands. This will allow you to keep your hands on your bow or shotgun to release or fire when the time is right.
A locator call is exactly what its name entails, a call used to find the location of the responding turkeys. There are specific calls dedicated to this purpose such as a crow call, but a locator call is simply a tool in your calling arsenal that is used to create a shock gobble. This is a response by a male turkey that is a reaction rather than a gobble for mating or communication purposes. There are a variety of things that can strike up a fired up turkey from a truck door closing to an accidental sneeze walking out to your blind. The key is to always be listening for those active birds and wait to make your move.
A variety of decoys are available in different postures and qualities. Availability can range from entry level foam decoys to high end, lifelike decoys that look like real turkeys when you wake up from your field nap! Posture positions are relative to the time of the season and how the birds in your area are acting. An article by Passion for the Hunt provides great insight on how to call and decoy turkeys throughout the entire spring turkey season.