As turkey season is getting closer it's time to dust off the calls and get ready. I have certain ways I like to call and have had good and bad luck with them all. Sometimes the worst sound you make is exactly what they want to hear. I will go through the calling that I like to do and the types of calls I use.
Probably the most common call to use is the yelp. It is a location call and is the one I use the most. The yelp consists of a consistent sound on a cadence. This call can be done on a box call, slate, call and mouth calls. I will start calling with my box call and call quiet. I will vary the number of yelps I do anywhere from 3 up to 12 or more straight yelps. I have watched hens in the wild that will yelp up towards 20 times. Generally when I'm trying to locate a tom I will yelp 3 to 4 times and wait and see if I get an answer back. If I don't get an answer I will yelp again 3 to four times a little louder. After calling for around 15 to 20 minutes if I haven's located a tom I will hit different areas and continue yelping until I locate a bird. Also when trying to locate a bird I will cut mixed in with yelps to act like an excited hen, but I will cover cutting in a bit.
One I locate a bird I will set up and continue with yelps as well as cutting, purring, and putting. Having a variety of calling sequences will help you find birds more often and become more successful. Also when yelping there are different sounds as a young hen has a higher pitch and clear yelp, while a mature hen will have a deeper raspy yelp. For me I have had a little better luck yelping like a younger hen, but a mature tom will most likely like the sound of a more mature or dominant hen.
The next call I use most often is the cut. Cutting consists of what I would consider a short yelp. The yelp isn't a long call, but longer than cutting. In order to cut I use my box call and mouth call. I will give short quick burst in intermittent sequences. I will do cuts of 3's, 2's, and 1's and vary them in different orders. While cutting I will also yelp in between. When you combine the cut and yelp it signifies an excited hen and for me has been the most successful when calling toms in. It seems whenever the toms won't talk and I know they are in the area cutting and yelping together will sometimes get them fired up and have them come running in.
Another great call is the purr. I will purr on a box call, slate call, and mouth call. The most difficult call to master is the purr. I will only use the purr when I have a bird coming in. It has a great calming affect and lets the tom know the hen is relaxed and works great to bring that tom just a little bit closer. The purr can be achieved on a mouth call by basically fluttering your tongue as you blow air. On a slate call the easiest way is to simply lightly drag your friction stick across the top of the slate. It will almost softly bounce on top of the slate making the purring sound. Finally on the box call you simply do the same as the slate call and softly take the top of the box call along the edge. I don't use this call all that often, but it is a great tool to have and use as all calling can trigger a response.
Putts and Clucks
A call I will commonly group together with purring is putting. Putting is also known as clucking. I will putt on my slate call and mouth calls. To putt you simply blow lightly with a mouth call and almost say the word "putt." The putt or cluck is used by turkeys to keep track of each other and has a good calming effect. It is a very quiet call so in close proximity is where it works best, but you can use it when they are further out as well as their hearing is unbelievable.
A call I don't use are kee kee runs. Kee kee runs are typically used by a hen who has lost track of her polts or young. It is almost a whistle sound. You can make kee kee runs with a mouth call by using more pressure and more air. It is very high pitched and goes great by adding a few soft purrs in the mix. Again this isn't a call I use, but a great tool to have just in case it might be the only thing they will respond to.
These are just a few of the things I use to call turkeys in. The way I have found what works best is to simply go out and use them on the real thing. I have found that I kind of have things going right when I have a hen come in and can talk back and forth with her. That is a great sign that your calling is working. The goal might not be to have hens come in, but when they do and you can talk back and forth it is a blast. As I stated before a young hen has worked for me in the past, but you never know when that boss hen raspy sound will work better. Doing different sets of calls in random orders are the best way to go. The key is sounding as realistic as you can, and that can only happen with time in the field and practice.
If you are just starting to call I would advise to start with a box call as it can be the easiest to use and the loudest when locating and quietest when they are coming. Also just concentrate on yelping and cutting and you should do just fine. The other thing to avoid, which I am guilty of, is not over calling. The best way to do it is get a bird going and make sure you can tell he is coming in and stop calling. If he is coming in he will most likely keep gobbling even when you aren't calling. If this is the case it doesn't hurt to call back every now and again, but don't over call. I find myself just enjoying them come in close and getting them to gobble, but this can also prevent a bird from coming in.
I have found success in turkey hunting by mastering calling and placing decoys so the birds have something to look at. The calls I use can be found at buglingbull.com. They have a variety of turkey calls that work great. To learn how to call just jump on the web and search and you will be amazed at the resources available. I hope these tips will help you bag your first bird or a good refresher on calling.