Turkey Calling 101: 8 Tips and Techniques For Beginners (Pro Instructions)
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If you’re beginner turkey hunter planning to venture into the turkey woods, you ought to know how to successfully lure the birds into your range by using turkey calls.
As the experienced hunters agree, turkey calling contributes largely to your hunting success. Nothing feels better than being able to draw the gobblers into your range by speaking the language they want to hear.
Below, we’ll share with you some great turkey calling tips and techniques that will help you bag as many gobblers as you can in your next turkey hunting mission.
#1. Start By Getting The Right Turkey Call
So, which is the best call for a beginner?
As with any other hunting equipment, the answer to this question is to go with the call you feel most comfortable with.
The expert hunters recommend learning to use multiple turkey calls, given the fact that you’ll have to experiment with different calls in the woods until you find the one that gobblers respond to.
#2. Familiarize Yourself With The Basic Turkey Vocalizations
Yes, knowing the basic vocalizations of these wild birds is crucial in helping you to use different turkey calls successfully. The birds make around eight different calls, including some sub-type calls that are unique to certain seasons.
Here are the basic vocalizations you ought to know:
Cluck: The cluck comprises of one or several short, staccato notes; a plain cluck usually consists of 2-3 single note clucks. A turkey typically clucks to get the attention of another. This makes it a good call to reassure the approaching gobbler that the hen is waiting for him.
Yelp: a basic turkey vocalization usually delivered in a series of single note vocalizations. It carries different meanings depending on how the hen produces it.
Kee-kee Run: a lost call made by young wild turkeys- with variations made by adult birds. Though kee-kee is often associated with the fall season, you can successfully deploy it in the spring hunting as well.
Purr: A soft, rolling call made by turkeys when they’re content. It usually comes from feeding birds. The call isn’t loud and is ideal for reassuring the turkeys as they approach your stand.
Cutt: Refers to a series of loud, fast, erratic single notes. Modified by a cluck, this is a clear abrupt call with some questioning nature. The call is made by single turkeys looking for companionships and can be heard over greater distances.
You can’t pick up your guitar and head for a performance at a concert filled with audience. You’ll have to practice how to use it in advance so that you’ll give the crows a mind-blowing performance
The same case applies to turkey calling. View your calls as your guitar, the concert as the hunt, and the birds as your audience. Because you want to give the turkeys mind-blowing calls that drive them crazy and make them hunt you down, you’ll have to practice using your call in advance.
Different turkey calls vary significantly in the ease of use. But with determination and commitment, you’ll eventually master them and use them to speak the language of these wild birds.
#4. Variation is Important
You also ought to make variation part of your turkey calling techniques- particularly if you hunt in a smaller spot.
As I’ve always told you countless times, turkeys are smart birds. If you keep using the same call to lure them over and over again, they’ll soon stop responding to your calls. They’ll run the other way any time they hear you calling.
And boy! This can be quite frustrating!
Luckily, you can avoid such a misfortune by varying your call. And when we talk about variation, it can be as simple as using different strikers for your pot call or different striker woods. These will undoubtedly vary the tone of your calls.
Additionally, you can do what many hunters out there do- carry with you 2-3 of each type of turkey call into the woods. While this might feel too cumbersome for you, it will give you excellent results (if you know how to use all your calls together).
#5. Avoid Overcalling Turkeys!
Probably the number one mistake all the beginner turkey hunters have been making.
I’ve interacted with most of them, and they admit that they all get the temptation to call the birds after every 30 seconds. This is totally wrong and impractical.
I believe it’s mainly due to lack of patience and probably watching the hunting shows where you might think they call every 30 seconds (but you forget that they edit the boring, waiting parts).
So, my advice is- always avoid the temptation to call the bird not more than every 15 minutes if you’re not getting a response.
Even, in reality, you’ll never hear a hen stand in the woods and yell continuously!
#6. Know When To Stop Calling
Now that you’ve successfully drawn in your target gobbler into your range into your range, what’s next?
Should you continue calling him?
The answer is NO.
If you spot him coming across the field, you don’t have to keep calling him. Just out down your call and wait.
If you keep calling the bird, the chances are high that you’ll mess up things and send him running.
If he stops or turns, you might consider calling him a little more- but if it’s not necessary, you can as well avoid it.
#7. Know When To Yell (And When Not To)
There are times when being a bit aggressive pays off pretty well. Like at the beginning of the hunting season when the gobblers aren’t yet excitable, yelping will give them some jump-start.
In the middle of the day, gobblers tend to be less active, and if you yelp at them, you’ll definitely get them riled up.
Other situations where you can make your calls as loud as you can include when you’re trying to locate, or if you’re hunting on a windy day and you can spot the birds at a distance.
When you’re actively calling a turkey and getting some response, however, it’s time to soften up. Keeping in mind that you’re acting like a hen that’s trying to convince the gobbler into coming towards her. Thus, softer yelps, purrs, and clucks will get the job done better than yelling.
Whenever you’re trying your luck in a new spot, you’d also want to make your yelps and clucks as soft as possible. A gobbler might be nearby, and you might not know it. If you start calling out too loud, you might scare him and send him running before you could even know he’s there.
#8. Practice Pays
This is perhaps the deadliest weapon you can employ in all your turkey hunting trips.
Unless you’re lucky enough to get a loan gobbler, odds are you’ll have to wait for a Tom. The daybreak’s gobbling- usually noisy and heat pounding- begins getting slower as the sun goes higher and higher.
At around midday, most of the gobblers answering your calls have already bred the hens in the morning and will not come to investigate.
Don’t despair, though:
You just need to stay put and continue making soft purrs and yelps after around every 10-15 minutes to let them know you’re still around.
Don’t let your patience run out and start over calling the gobbler; you want him to hunt you.
Also, don’t let down your guard- mature toms are known for slipping in unexpectedly, searching for the subtle hen.
There are no secrets to successful wild turkey calling. You just need to input your time and effort into learning how to use the different calls available. Underrating the basic bird vocalizations will also help you discover how to use different call faster and more efficiently.
Turkey calling is also an experimentation game. If you don’t get a response to a particular call, don’t give up. Try another call until you discover the one turkeys are responding to.
If you combine practice, experimentation, patience and all the other tips we’ve discussed above, your instincts will get better, and you’ll become more efficient at calling turkeys.