Types of Turkey Calls

by Crystal Cockman


IMG_4980Yelps, purrs, cackles, clucks, gobbles – all sounds a turkey makes. The gobble is the sound all turkey hunters want to hear in the woods. It is the call that is meant to attract females and deter competing males. There are various types of yelp calls, some of which are meant to answer the question “where are you?” to reassemble turkeys that may have become scattered. Cackles are usually given as turkeys fly down from roosts. Purrs are made as birds travel and feed. Clucks may mean “come here.”

There are a variety of calls meant to mimic these natural turkey sounds used by turkey hunters of varying levels of expertise. The push button call is easy to use and is a favorite for beginning hunters. You simply push a button when you want to make a sound. They are made of wood and/or plastic, and can be used with one hand. They can even be mounted on a gunstock. One downfall of these calls is that they are sensitive to moisture.

Box calls are usually made of wood. You use them by holding the base still and moving the top part across it. They are good for long distance or up close, as they can make loud or soft calls. You can make a variety of vocalizations with a box call. They pretty much require two hands to operate, and can also be made ineffective by moisture.

Pot and striker calls are another type of turkey call. They consist of a round disc made of slate, glass or ceramic materials, and a striker made of wood, aluminum or carbon. At various angles and drawing a line or a circle, the striker is used on the disc to create a very wide variety of vocalizations. These calls are more tolerant of wet conditions. One downside is that they require two hands to operate.

The Shaker call is good for making loud calls and is used by shaking, either with one hand (to imitate jakes) or two (to imitate gobblers). They are often made of tough plastic material that allows them to resist the elements.

Diaphragm calls are also known as mouth calls. They are U-shaped and made of rubber or latex reeds that vibrate when air is pushed across them. You put the call on the roof of your mouth. They are small, affordable, lightweight, and do not require the hunter to use his hands when operating. This is helpful as a turkey gets close so you won’t spook it. These are more difficult to use and require more time to master.

Wing bone Calls are made of pieces of wingbone that are boiled and marrow is removed, and then the pieces are glued together. The first turkey call I ever owned was a wingbone call, given to me by a good friend who is an excellent turkey hunter. To make a sound with a wing bone call, purse your lips together and make a kissing sound.

Locator calls are a bit different, in that they make a sound of a different animal – coyotes, owls, crows, hawks, etc – in an effort to shock a bird into responding, thereby letting you know their location without revealing yours. This is a good first step when starting out your hunt. Whatever your preference for calling in a bird, it’s always a good time getting out in the woods.