April is an exhilarating month for the hunting and fishing crowd; we start the month with the opening of trout season, and at the end of the month, turkey hunting for gobblers is on the agenda. While I will enjoy the throbbing of a nice trout on my flyrod, you can bet I will also get quite a thrill when I hear a gobble piercing the early morning quietness at a favorite hunting spot.
Obviously, if you plan to hunt turkeys, it’s a good idea to have and know at least some basics regarding turkey calls. I’ve known a few folks over the years who were a little hesitant to get into turkey hunting because they thought you had to be some kind of expert caller to make things happen, but that is not the case. You might be surprised at what you can make happen with a little practice on a couple of different calls. I don’t compete in turkey calling competitions, and I’m far from an expert, but I have taken some good turkeys over the years with some basic skills.
Understand that there are two types of turkey calls: friction calls and air-operated calls. Companies have gone crazy in recent years, producing these calls in many forms, and there is an abundance of calls available today. We don’t have room to go over all that’s out there but let’s take a look at a few basic calls that will get the job done.
Probably the easiest to learn is the hinged lid box call, a friction call constructed of wood. It’s probably a good idea when carrying this call to keep a tight rubber band wrapped around it so as not to make unwanted noises or calls. Also, ensure it doesn’t get wet, as that can affect the call’s performance.
Another simpler friction wood call is the push button box call; it’s smaller, and the simple push of a spring-loaded wood rod creates the desired call.
There are a lot of turkey hunters who like using friction calls, but rather than the traditional wood box call, they opt for a slate call. On these calls, the oval or round-shaped slate or glass, usually seated into a wood or plastic frame, fits easily into the palm of your hand. The tip of a striker or plastic or wood peg is scraped across the slate or glass, creating the desired call.
A third and very common type of call which is in the air-operated category, is the mouth diaphragm call, and I’m sure most hunters would agree that this one is the most difficult to master. It is held in the roof of the mouth, and the air is forced over the one to four latex reeds which vibrate, creating the desired sound. These calls do take some practice, but some basic simple calls can be mastered with a little practice. The beauty of these calls is that they can be used without hand movement, which can be critical when a gobbler is eyeing you up.
Some other calls are out there, but these three are probably the most commonly used calls. Now, of course, we have only looked at the devices used to make the desired calls, but what about the calls or sounds themselves?
Space doesn’t allow for a lot of discussions here, but a couple of basic calls to know would be the yelp and the cluck.
The yelp is used by turkeys trying to locate or associate with each other, and it’s a good call come spring.
The yelp call is about five soft notes that sound like “yoke-yoke-yoke-yoke-yoke.”
The cluck is used to reassure that all is well. When using yelps and clucks, avoid loud, sharp sounds that might be mistaken for alarm putts.
There is a lot more to calling than what’s mentioned here, but it’s a safe bet that some soft and not too often used yelps could bring a gobbler into gun range, and many of us will be putting it to the test in a couple of weeks.