Like nearly every other animal you go hunting for, being able to call them in will drastically increase your chances of a successful hunt. In fact, one of the most excited parts of a spring turkey season involves knowing how to call a turkey – the right way. The art of turkey calling is what attracts nearly 2.5 million hunters every spring to go out and snag a beard dragger.
Do you know how to properly call in a turkey within shooting range? Do you know how often you should call a turkey, or even what sounds are the best to use for calling them in? Let’s take some time to go over all there is to know about getting turkeys to come by using your calls.
Turkey Hunters Know How to Call Wild Turkeys
The part of turkey hunting that draws in most people is the act of what’s known as ‘calling.’ Turkey hunting is all about knowing how to call a turkey. If you can realistically mimic a Hen, you’ll be nailing your bird in no time.
This is also the most difficult part, too. Calling back and forth with a wild turkey is a very complex game of sorts. If you use the wrong calls at the wrong times, the birds will move on. If you over call, they will spook off. If you cannot get your tone, pitch, and rhythm down, the birds will want nothing to do with you.
Your goal should be to learn how to call in turkeys so they can get within 40 yards, or closer of you – depending on what type of weapon you are using to hunt with. You bow hunters may want to get the birds in even closer.
However, the closer that big gobbler gets to you, the more likely they are to see you. Turkeys have incredible eye sight (yes, incredible) which doesn’t make things easier, either.
Blind Calling a Wild Turkey
Blind calling is much easier, because the blind will hide most of your movement. The only part of you the birds can see move is whatever part of you body is exposed in the blind. This is usually the chest and head.
Related: Turkey Hunting Blinds
You can have a slate call, or box call at the ready and use these friction calls below you chest. This way, the movement of the friction calls cannot be seen by the eagle eye vision of wild turkeys.
What Time Should I Start Calling Turkeys?
Most hunters will start to toss out a call just before sunrise, or right at sunrise. If you are set up near a roost, you might be able to hear the birds talking some as they come down for breakfast. This would be a great time to start turkey calling.
Be sure to obey your local hunting laws when it comes to the times you are allowed to actively hunt. Some states are different.
When Should I Start Calling When Turkey Hunting?
The best time of the day is early morning, immediately after the roost then again about 8 to 9 a.m. when the other hen starts to leave and lay their eggs and once again between 11 and noon.
Consider trying some locator calls, or soft yelps and see how the birds respond.
How Often Should You Call When Turkey Hunting?
Many people have different theories here, but I think that calling for a bird every 15 – 20 minutes should be okay. It all depends on what the turkeys near you are doing, and how they are communicating with each other.
What you do not want to do is over call, or call too much. This will definitely drive the Toms away.
Can You Over Call Turkeys? Calling too Much Explained.
Yes, you absolutely can over call turkeys. One of the hardest (but most fun) part about turkey hunting is the game of calling back and fourth, and trying to lure in the turkeys by doing so.
Overcalling is one way to drive the birds away – which is the opposite of what you want to do.
Try a yelp and see if you get a response. If the turkeys are actively calling back and fourth with you, this is a good sign you are not over calling them. If you hear silence for extended periods of time, move on and stop calling.
What Are the Best Turkey Sounds to Use?
Turkey hunters are going to want to use the right turkey sounds for the right time. Learning the art of what turkey sounds to use, and when to use them, is something that turkey hunters all need to learn.
For example, a fly-down cackle is a locator call that can let a gobbler know that hens are near by. A flyover cackle, or similar turkey calls, usually work well if the gobbler is already there, though. Toms could remain in the roost for a little while longer, compared to hens that might be more active at sun up.
Related: Turkey Hunting Videos
Most beginners will be well-suited by learning a yelp, put, and cluck. Other turkey hunters who are more experienced should get better at gobbling and purring.
Turkey Hen Calling
You want a great pointer? Learn how to copy the turkey hen calling sounds.
Well, gobblers love to find hens – especially in the spring time. If you can practice on your hen calls, you will increase your odds of nailing a gobbler. Older Toms are hard to fool, though. You need to get really, really good, and you should consider using a mouth call for this. If you’re good enough, can you get a massive beard dragger to literally move hundreds of yards to your location.
What Call Should I Use For Turkey Hunting?
Slate calls (also known as a friction call) are both simple to use, and well-proven in hunting environments by most turkey hunters. Slate calls do well at mimicking a real turkey – which is the goal here (tip – carry multiple strikers, because you will always end up losing one to the bush fingers).
Hunters calling in turkeys with mouth calls are usually at a massive advantage, because these are considered hands free. A good turkey mouth call will allow you to use both hands freely, so you can get into your ready position and fire when the bird is within shooting range.
Related: Turkey Hunting for Beginners
Mouth calls also are very loud, and very realistic. You will be able to call in more turkeys if you get good at a mouth call.
How to Use a Turkey Mouth Call: Words to Use
Remember the words ‘kee kee’ and ‘chalk chalk.’ These are words that people learning how to call in a turkey can think of when using their mouth calls. Focus on saying “kee-kee-kee” as your tongue presses on the reeds.
There are many other hunters that have some other advice when it comes to what you say when calling in turkeys, but this is a very good starting point.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the best turkey calls to use?
There are a metric shit-ton of different calls out there. It makes sense to only want to use the best turkey calls. I can’t possibly answer this question here, but you can check out our guide on the best turkey calls on the market and make a decision based off of our guidance there.
How early do you start calling turkeys?
It’s a time for them to get in touch and they get the call more easily at daylight. Another great time is between 8:30 – 1:30 am as gobblers leave the hens to seek other birds. During these periods I had the most fun just giving occasional yelps or purrs.
How long should you wait between turkey calls?
Try calling every 15 to 20 minutes, or so. Listen to how vocal the birds are around you. When in doubt, stick to your clucks and putts. These are simple to do, and are extremely simple to do when learning how to call in a turkey.
What are the different types of calls I can use?
There are several different turkey hunting calls out there, but the three most common are: mouth calls, slate calls, and box calls. Learning to use all three of these will ensure you become a seasoned turkey hunter.
They all come with their own advantages, and disadvantages, though. For example, box calls may be better suited when in a ground blind, because you can move around more without being seen.
Summary – Learning How to Call Wild Turkeys
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into turkey calls, and knowing what to do – and when to do it. We turkey hunters all operate in our own ways, but these tips will definitely help increase your chances of success in the turkey woods.
Different calls are needed at different times, and you need to become proficient at them. If you cannot sound realistic, you’ll never call a bird in – keep this in mind. You need to sound as much as a real Hen, or real Tom as possible.