In order to hunt turkey, it is an extraordinarily valuable skill to be able to call the birds in. Domesticated turkeys are not very intelligent, but wild turkeys are an entirely different creature. They are quite a bit more sneaky. It takes quite a bit of practice in order to master the use of a turkey call. By taking the time to learn how to do it properly, you will have a strong advantage when hunting for turkey.
Start by going to your local sporting goods or outdoors shop. Beginners will do best with a box style turkey call. Box calls are usually made from wood, but you may want to consider an aluminum call. This is because aluminum is effective regardless of the weather. In order to use the box call to create the sound of a turkey call, slide the lid of the box along its open surface. This can be used to make yelping, cutting (excited clucking), and cackling sounds, but is ineffective for clucks and purrs. It also can only be used at long range, since turkeys have better eyesight than humans.
Another option is a slate turkey call. To do this, you rub a striker along a specially designed circular surface called a sounding board. The materials that the striker and sounding board are made of can vary drastically. Try out several different variations to find the one that you like best. Slate calls produce the most accurate sounds of any of the calls. Their only disadvantage is that, like the box call, they do not give you free hands. To yelp, use the striker to make small circles. Clucks are made with a quick and sharp pull. Purrs are created by dragging the striker slowly. Cutting is simply fast, excited clucking.
The next step up from a box or a slate call is a diaphragm based call. You should only use this after you have become familiar with the other types, because it is one of the most difficult types of turkey calls to figure out how to use properly. It is the most popular type of call, but it is not for use by beginners. The advantage of the diaphragm call is that it does not require hands to use. You hold the reed and frame in your mouth. You place the call against the roof of your mouth and the tip of your tongue just over the front of the call. The diaphragm call can be used to make all of the different types of calls. The call is made by forcing air through the call and saying a “word.” It is important not to be too loud when using the diaphragm call since it can scare away a turkey. It takes quite a bit of skill to master.
There are several different types of calls to learn. The purpose of a turkey call is, of course, to imitate the natural sound of a turkey communicating. Different calls should be used under different circumstances. Do your research in order to find out what these calls sound like. It will take practice and a great deal of trial and error to get it right. Turkey calling is really a form of art. Once you master it, you will be able to lure turkeys within range, calling them close enough to shoot at. To cluck with the diaphragm call, you will use a word something like “putt.” To yelp, it will sound like “choulk.” To purr you will roll the back of your throat. Cutting, which is excited clucking, sounds like “kit-kit-kit-kit.” Finally, a cackle is basically the same as cutting but with a different rhythm.
Practice your call. You should start practicing at least a few weeks before turkey season begins. Some hunters practice their call all year long, perfecting it. Competitions are even held in order to reward the hunters with the best calls.