Big Tom in full strut

Turkey Hunting Calls 

As I sit here and watch the snow pile up tonight on what is expected to be the worst snow storm so far this year here in Colorado, I know that my hopes of going scouting for spring turkey hunting tomorrow are doused by the blizzard swirling on the other side of my window pane.  But my hopes for the spring turkey season remain high as I not only will be hunting turkey in Colorado this year, I also got a really sweet deal to take a hunt in Nebraska in April, and I am very excited about that!  I have not hunted in Nebraska before, but I have hunted plenty in Kansas, so I imagine it will be similar.

When I think about the excitement of spring turkey hunting, it reminds me so much of elk hunting in September; the turkeys are in their breeding season, and the males act very much like bull elk do during the rut.  The big Toms want to dominate the other males, chase the hens, and they are very aggressive.  The other element of turkey hunting that is very much like elk hunting is that you can call them to you.

I wrote a really good article about hunting turkey, which you can read by clicking here.  Tonight I want to talk about the different kinds of turkey calls that are available these days.  First is the Wing Bone


Turkey Wing Bone Call

call, which is the oldest form of turkey call in existence.  The original wing bone calls were made from the hollow wing bones of wild turkeys, glued together to form a sort of trumpet.  I don’t know how the ancient people of this country did that, but they did.  The call is used to make soft yelps or clucks, a good searching call.  Someday I want to make one of these calls of my own.


Turkey Box Call

The box call is also one that has been around for a long time, and it is very simple to use.  The box call is a thin-sided wooden box with a hinged lid that moves across the opening of the box, creating a wide variety of appealing turkey sounds.  The friction of the lid moving over the box is what makes the sounds, and by adjusting the pressure on the lid (also called the paddle) you can create short clucks, purrs, staccato cuts, or yelps.  I find the box call to be the most versatile call, but that is my personal preference


Turkey Slate Call


The slate call is another form of the friction call, like the box call.  This call is often referred to as a “peg and pot” call.  This call works by striking or dragging a peg across the surface of slate, glass, or ceramic, which is glued to a shallow bowl-shaped base.  Whichever the surface material (I prefer slate), this call is good for searching yelps, excited cuts, and soft purrs.


Diaphragm Mouth Call

Diaphragm calls are a little more complicated to use.  These calls are placed inside your mouth with a latex membrane that vibrates as you breathe or blow through it.  To use these calls, you hold the call against the roof of your mouth with your tongue, and the air you pass through the call can create all of the sounds as the other calls I am writing about, although this one takes a little more practice.

The easiest of all turkey calls to use is the push-pin calls.  These calls are basically an


Push Turkey Call

automated box or slate call; it is a device that creates the turkey sounds simply by depressing a plunger or wooden dowel on the device.  This is OK for beginners, but there is no room for creativity in your calls other than adjusting the speed of depression of the plunger.

Those are the basics of turkey calls, but I have yet to see a call that can rival the thundering sound of a big Tom bellowing out his mating call as the sun crests the horizon.  The sound of a big Tom in the morning reminds me of a big bull elk bugling to make his presence known; it is impressive to hear in the wild.

While I’m snowed in this weekend, it won’t be long before I’m out in the woods and plains hunting turkey, I can’t wait!