Talk Turkey

The point of calling is to make a turkey believe you’re another turkey. You provoke interest and responses, so you can locate, track, attract and, hopefully, kill that bird. Realism is paramount for delivering a focused, persuasive message. To sound real, you must know what you’re saying and why.

Instead of focusing on calling sequences, I try to present scenarios that paint a believable picture and hopefully strike a chord with a gobbler in a specific situation. Here are some common examples.

Roost Hunts

If you’re close to a gobbler before flydown, just let the gobbler know there's a hen in a tree nearby. Try this:

  • Stay soft and subtle.
  • Produce sparse tree yelps and tree clucks.
  • Let the gobbler know there’s a hen in a nearby tree.

If the gobbler is henned up in the tree, try to sound like the first hen on the ground. Try this:

  • Use fly-down cackles.
  • Follow through with excited yelping and cutting.

Sometimes, you can cajole a longbeard into flying down early to check out the hot new girl. It won’t work all the time, but you don’t have much to lose when dealing with a gobbler roosted near hens.


Let the conditions and terrain dictate your strategy, try one of the following:

1. Walk and call if you have plenty of terrain and vegetation to hide your movements. Try this with a mobile approach:

  • Start with a few soft series at your beginning location in case there is a bird nearby.
  • Walk and stop every 50 to 100 yards to call until a bird answers.
  • Call using fairly excited yelping and cutting when you stop.

2. Set up and cold-call if you are hunting small properties, the woods are open or birds seem shut-mouthed. Bunker down and try this:

  • Start soft but run through several subtle series before ratcheting up the excitement level.
  • If the first few series net nothing, slowly increase the excitement.
  • Use multiple calling devices to sound like several hens.

Gobblers with Hens

Try the conventional method, but know hens are constantly sorting out their social hierarchy, and don’t always respond well to aggressive calling:

  • Call aggressively at a dominant hen to attract her closer.
  • Hens may bring a gobbler in tow if they take the bait.

Try presenting a more real scenario where you try to start a conversation with another hen as if to ask permission to join her social circle:

  • Use soft, subtle, clear yelps and clucks.
  • If a hen responds with subtle calling, continue calling to it in that manner.
  • If a hen seems to get excited or aggressive when responding, that’s your cue to ratchet up your calling. Use lots of aggressive yelping and cutting. Even throw in some aggressive purrs.

Working Turkeys

After you have a gobbler interested or located, the work begins. You must convince him that you’re a turkey and that he should check you out. Gauge his mood, and fit your calling to the situation.

  • If a bird responds lustily to excited calling, keep giving it to him until he’s dead.
  • If a bird responds tepidly to every few series, scale back your approach, and play coy with soft calling and scratching in the leaves.

Always consider your setup before starting any calling series and always react and respond to the bird you are working. Make it your goal to always produce a believable scenario. 

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