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Turkey Hunting

Mouth Call Madness

Mouth calls can produce the sweetest, most realistic turkey sounds of any calling device, but they can also prove difficult to master.

Brian Lovett August 11, 20212 min read

Follow this approach to be making turkey sounds on a diaphragm call in a few hours.

Learn the basics

  • Start with a two-reed call with no cuts in the top reed
  • Reeds should face forward, toward the front of your mouth
  • The small bump or tab on one side indicates the bottom side, facing down in your mouth
  • Moisten the reeds with saliva and make sure they are separated
  • Place the call in your mouth
  • Use the center of your tongue to press it against the roof of our mouth
  • The call’s curved back end should fit tightly in the natural curve of your mouth

Learn the technique

  • Don’t “blow,” forcefully “huff” air from your lungs through your throat using your diaphragm
  • Keep constant tongue pressure on the call
  • Don’t puff your cheeks
  • Use your diaphragm to force a slow steady stream of air across the top of your tongue
  • Air over the tip of your tongue creates an “s” sound, air over the back creates an “h” sound, try to be somewhere in between
  • As you huff, the call’s reeds will vibrate and produce sound
  • Try to achieve a clear, high-pitched whistle (don’t try to sound like turkey yet
  • Move your tongue around to find the spot on the call that lets you whistle
  • Make sure the call is sealed properly against the top of your mouth
  • Be patient. Practice huffing  until producing a whistle is second nature

Learn actual calls

  1. Yelp (a two-note call)
    • Note one is the whistle, to achieve the second note, whistle and slowly drop your jaw and/or tongue pressure, this will produce a lower, sometimes raspier note
    • At first the call will sound like a “kee” (whistle) “ock” (second note)
    • Practice breaking the sound into two notes, speed up the process and the yelp will become recognizable
  2. Kee-kee run
    • Whistle training will allow you to produce a series of three or four ascending whistle
    • Add a yelp or two on the end of the kee-kees and you’ll sound like a young turkey
  3. Cluck
    • Use your diaphragm to huff a quick, forceful blast of air across the reeds
  4. Cutting (an excited, uneven series of clucks)
    • Cackling is a more rhythmic series of clucks turkeys often utter when flying
  5. Purring (the most difficult to master)
    • Produce a gargling sound in the back of your mouth as you huff air across the call
    • Let you cheeks puff out when making this call
    • If you can’t gargle, purr by fluttering you tongue or lips

Never get frustrated, mouth calling takes a lot of practice and work. Once you’ve mastered the two-reed call, progress to other types of diaphragms. Don’t forget the basics. Good luck!

Filed Under:
  • Gear Up
  • Healthy Harvests
  • Turkey Calling