Using locator calls
At the break of dawn, you may hear owls, crows or woodpeckers. Often, a male turkey will “shock” gobble after hearing these sounds, which tells you a gobbler is within calling distance. If you don’t hear owls, crows or woodpeckers (or turkeys gobbling on their own), some hunters imitate the sounds of owls/crows/woodpeckers to see if they can get a male turkey to gobble. Several manufacturers make these types of calls, and they are easy to use with a little practice. These locator calls can be used throughout the day but are especially effective in the early morning and late evening.
Calling wild turkeys
Wild turkeys make several different vocalizations you can learn about (what they sound like and what they mean) from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and YouTube videos.
Manufacturers make different types of turkey calls (box calls, pot/slate calls, friction calls, mouth calls, tube calls, etc.) you can purchase, practice with and use to imitate these vocalizations. Listening to turkeys in the wild or online is a good way to learn how to call these birds.
Being able to mimic a wide range of wild turkey sounds and knowing when to make them will help you be successful.
Slate call and peg
Push button call
The yelp is the sound often heard in the spring and is the most common call hunters mimic to call in a gobbler.
A female (hen) turkey often yelps to indicate she is ready to breed, and imitating this call can be effective in getting a gobbler to come to you. With instruction and practice, you can learn to produce an effective sounding yelp easily on a push-pull, box or pot/slate call.
But don’t call too often – less is more. Calling every 15 minutes or so and starting off quieter and then getting more aggressive/louder as the day goes on are good rules of thumb. If you hear a hen, try to mimic her exact vocalizations. If she does a soft 4-note yelp, you do the same – if she gets loud, you get loud, too. By imitating the hen’s calls, you may be able to call her close to you and a gobbler might follow her. If you hear gobbling and the gobble is getting louder, that means he is getting closer to you - so stop calling.
Get ready by shouldering your shotgun, and then stay still and watch for movement.