To cutt or not to cutt?

The cutt has its place in the wild turkey lexicon and knowing when to use it, and when not to, is key to a caller’s approach. Let’s compare the cutt to a cluck or putt. All are renditions of the same single-syllable sound. So, from a hen’s perspective, what do those sounds mean?

The basic cluck is a “here I am” sound emitted by an unalarmed hen. Hens cluck for several reasons, but the cluck does not have an aggressive edge.

The putt, meanwhile, sounds like a cluck but has a hint of curiosity and alarm to it. It’s basically a warning call that’s repeated with various degrees of excitement by a turkey that sees something suspicious. Its curiosity satisfied, the upset turkey might settle down in a minute or two. Otherwise, putting will alert the rest of the flock to potential trouble.

The cutt is also a one-syllable note, but with a snappy, feisty overtone. There might be more than one reason why hens cutt, but I think such calls are rapid-fire, short-duration clucks that are aggressive. Hens often make them when asserting their dominance over other turkeys, so cutts might carry the threat of a fight.

I believe a hen that cutts and yelps loudly in response to my calling is annoyed by what she thinks is a strange hen in the neighborhood. When I get that kind of response, I copy her notes. If that riles her enough, she might come in to put me in my place. And if she has a tom in tow, chances are good he will tag along and come into range. And that might be the last thing he does.

Even when I don’t hear a hen cutting, I often embellish my yelps with a few cutts at the beginning or during a series to add an element of excitement to my presentation. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get a response from an otherwise quiet tom.

Is there a time you don’t want to cutt? Not necessarily, but I don’t try to sound aggressive or overly excited when the turkeys I’m working are already moving toward me.

For cutting, I normally rely on a diaphragm call, and make the sounds by rapidly saying a word such as “puck” three or four times (more or less) with puffs of air. You can cutt on friction calls, but with a mouth call, I can add versatility to the presentation instantly as the scenario unfolds, with no hand movement required.

Cutting is not what I consider to be a stand-alone call, but used judiciously, cutting adds another layer to your calling repertoire, and that’s always worthwhile.

Turkey calling is not rocket science, but it helps to have a basic understanding of when turkeys are apt to make certain sounds and how to make the calls. Your renditions do not have to be exact or structured perfectly. After all, turkeys vary their calls all the time, and no two sound exactly alike.

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