Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Turkey Calls and Calling - Spring Gobbler Hunting Series Part 2
Hello everyone and welcome back to my Spring Gobbler Hunting Series. If you just stumbled on this, check out part one where I introduce what this series is about. In this second video we will be discussing Turkey Calls. This quite possibly will be the most difficult video of the series, barring the actual video of harvesting a gobbler.
Wild turkey have a very diverse vocabulary, and because of that there is quite a diverse selection of calls available on the market today and I am going to do my best to navigate through the different options. This will definitely be one of the more subjective areas as a lot of the choices you have will be made on personal preference and trial and error. Remember, this whole series is not me telling you what to do, its just what I have decided to try based on the research that I have done. For each video, I will include a brief summary in the description, as well as a full detailed article on my blog page. I will also include the links/articles that I based my choices on.
One thing about calls is certain; you will want to select your calls well before the season to allow yourself plenty of time to practice – particularly with diaphragm calls, or mouth calls. You won’t call too many gobblers in if you sound like a cat caught in a dishwasher. Its important to be able to replicate turkey vocalizations with the correct tone, pitch and cadence, and it could be the difference between tagging out or coming home empty handed. Variety in this case is your friend. You may get a gobbler to respond with one particular type of call, only to find he freezes up just out of range. Having a backup call or twelve can give you that added advantage and bring him in those last few steps. Also, what works under one set of circumstances, might not yield success a half mile down the road. Having options within your repertoire will be key in your success.
As I mentioned, it is important to mimic calls as close as possible, but don’t feel bad if it takes some time to get use to. I certainly haven’t mastered calling either. So don’t feel bad if you don’t quite stack up to the Pro Hunters you see on TV… they’ve probably been calling just as long as talking. If you can mimic the sounds close enough, usually you will get a gobbler to respond. Actually, last year Bownhunter and I were at a local Gander Mountain which just happened to have a field next to it. We had bought a new box call, I had just ripped it out of the packaging and were practicing in the parking lot and all of a sudden I realized a tom had run out of the woods into the field and was coming straight for us! Too bad I didn’t have my shotgun haha. But lesson learned, I hadn’t even really made that great of calls and he came runnin full speed. Obviously do your best when using a call, but most of them today are truly good to go right out of the box.
I think what I learned from this is that you can’t be so scared of making a mistake calling that you don’t call at all. Its more important to be careful with accidentally making an alerted call like a Putt, when you were trying to make a cut or cluck, more so than being exactly on pitch or cadence when calling.
Before we cover the different types of calls, lets quickly take a look and briefly discuss some of the actual sounds we are trying to replicate and what they mean when a turkey makes them. Here are just a few clips of some of the sounds turkey make. These audio clips are free and available to all courtesy of the NWTF, credit for the audio goes to them. A link is included so you can listen to them as well:
Cluck – Used to get attention of other birds.
Cutt – Excited hen sound. Can lure dominant hen and her tom.
Yelp – Plain and excited. Can lure in toms or dominant hens.
Purr – Sound of reassurement, often made when feeding
Putt – Alarm call used to alert of turkeys of danger
Gobble – Locator - Used to elicit a shock gobble. USE CAUTION.
Owl Hoot – Locator – Used to elicit a shock gobble.
Let’s go through just some of the most popular types of calls, with a bit of background info behind each. Keep in mind this is not an all encompassing list. In no particular order:
• Diaphragm aka mouth calls – These are small hands free calls placed in your mouth. There are the most difficult calls to master, but are also very important. With practice, you can replicate pretty much any turkey sound with this call, and the ability to call without using your hands means they can be on the gun. This is a great tool that can be used to bring the gobbler in those last few yards, or get him to stick his head out for that shot. Start early with these calls. Its hard to give you a starting point with these unfortunately because everyone’s mouth is going to be different. What works for one person may not work for another. Fortunately, these call are relatively inexpensive and often times can be purchased in multi-packs, so its easy to try multiple calls to figure out what works. I personally started with the more simple designs and worked my way up to the more advanced, multiple reeds/different cuts and notches. I practice on my commute to and from work, so that gives me an hour a day of practice. I haven’t mastered it yet but that’s why I started early.
• Push-Pull Call – These calls are simple yet extremely efficient at replicating a hen’s yelp. You simply push and/or pull the call to create a good yelp tone. This can be a great call for a beginner that hasn’t quite figured out the yelp on the mouth call (me), but its versatility adds value even to an advanced hunter’s call arsenal. With practice this can be done one handed which will be extremely beneficial for me since most of my hunts will be solo adventures. This is a wood component call, so care must be taken so as not to get it wet which will make the call useless. Also be sure to apply chalk before going out in the field.
• Box Call – Another call that excels at making yelp calls, but can produce a variety of sounds with practice. A little trickier than the simple push pull call, but easy to master. Again, this is wood, care must be taken to keep it dry and chalked.
• Slate Call (AKA Striker and Pot Calls) – This call Is yet another friction call. It consists of a platform held in one hand, while a striker rod is used in the other to mimic vocalizations. There are multiple different combinations for these. The pot can come in wood, slate, aluminum, or glass to name a few, and the strikers come in multiple types of wood, carbon, plastic and a host of other types as well. Some work better in dry conditions, others are unaffected by dampness. You will have to decide which options suits your needs best. Check this forum link for a good resource.
• Owl Call – Locator call used to elicit a shock gobble in the early morning or late evening. Great for pinpointing roost locations the night before. Use the cadence “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”
• Gobble Call – Locator used to elicit a shock gobble. Be very careful using this especially in public land as you may trick a hunter in to thinking you are a turkey!
Again, the key to mastering turkey calling is starting early and practicing, a lot. Nothing is a better teacher than mother nature when it comes to listening to examples, but the links I provided are a close second.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to master the mouth call by the start of the season, but hopefully with practice I’ll be good enough.
With the variety of calls I have, I’ve got a good arsenal and starting place.
This was certainly not an all encompassing video, there is simply to much to cover. But its my hope that this video will help you get started so you can bag your own gobbler come this spring.
That’s it for this video guys, stay tuned for part 3 where we will discuss Pre-scouting.