General turkey season opens in April (in Washington State), and now is a great time to scout the areas you are thinking about hunting. If you have no idea where to start in your State, I recommend getting your hands on the harvest reports from the last few years. This isn’t a map to a honey hole, but at least you will be in the correct GMUs (game-management units) come hunting time. When we talk about turkey calls, it is important to know that there are quite a few types: mouth calls, pot/slate calls, box calls, locator calls, and hybrid calls.
Mouth calls are the epitome of calls. They are extremely difficult to learn (compared to other styles), but can be used hands-free and produce great sound. These calls are inserted into your mouth and pushed against the roof of your mouth (think mouth diaphragm). You have to control the air inside your mouth and make sure that the edges of the mouth call are sealed. With a lot of practice (many hours) you can begin to manipulate the pitch and start replicating a turkey. Advanced users can mimic the following: clucks, cut, whine, purr, and many other sounds.
Box calls are the easiest to use; all you have to do is move a lever or handle to produce a relatively authentic turkey sound. These calls have all sorts of modifications available. For example, there are box calls that mount to your gun so you can generate calls with your none-trigger hand. However, one major problem with box calls is that they are large and often require two hands to use. This can make the moment of transitioning from calling to shooting difficult.
Pot/slate calls have a small round striking surface often made of slate, but there are also those made of aluminum and glass. The hunter will use a small peg (similar to a pencil) and strike the pot at various angles and patterns to mimic a turkey. To become proficient at constantly producing turkey noises, you will need to practice, practice, practice. It is almost like a musical instrument; it has the ability to replicate clucks, yelps, purrs, and cutting, making it extremely useful. Similar to box calls, this is a two-handed call, which creates the same difficulties come shooting time.
Locator calls are a little different than the other turkey calls. Instead of trying to sound like a turkey, we are trying to sound like predators that hunt turkeys. The concept behind locator calls is that you produce a sound that scares a turkey (tom) and produces a shock gobble. This is similar to if I jumped out of a closet at you, and you shrieked in fear. There are a variety of locator calls: owl, hawk, crow, and many more.
Hybrid calls are new to me, but so far I am extremely impressed. Recently I purchased two turkey calls by Flextone: the Thunder Cluck’n Purr and the Thunder Cut’n. They utilize the same concept as a mouth call, but the reeds are contained inside the call itself. These are easy to use and can be used hands-free. With these, in a very short time, you will be making authentic turkey sounds. At $15.99 (each) this is also a very inexpensive option.
Everyone’s needs will vary depending on when they are hunting, where they are hunting, and what they are hunting. Personally, I carry two turkey calls (one short range, one mid-range) and one locator call (crow). Regardless of the type/model you choose, the more you practice with it, the better you will get, and the better the results downrange will be.
(Featured image courtesy of nwtf.org)