Using a turkey mouth call takes skill. You could just pop one into your mouth without any knowledge of how to use one, blow some hot air into it, and you will most likely attract a turkey or two. But common sense and experience will always make for the better caller and hunter.
The best call to use is a diaphragm. It allows for hands-free operation, makes realistic turkey sounds, and is the most cost-effective call on the store shelves. To ensure success this gobbler season, practice calling early and often and follow these tips to get every single turkey you find.
Tip #1: Figure Out the Cadence
Once you’ve done enough hunting and have heard enough wild turkeys, you’ll start to notice that turkeys have a consistent and numerical cadence. A hen’s yelps and a plain cluck are the basic vocalizations spring gobbler hunters need to use.
When a hen is roosting in the tree, their yelps can range anywhere from 1 yelp to a handful of yelps. On the ground, you may hear 3 to 5 notes with variations based on the situation. More notes mean they’re lost. You may hear 12 to 20 notes, or even more.
A plain cluck consists of 1 to 3 notes. Cutting is made up of 4 to 10 notes, or even more.
Vary your clucks and yelps according to the situation. Want to sound like a hen calling out to a tom? Use 4 to 5 notes. Want to create an urgent lost call? Yelp a whole lot. Listen closely to real hen calls and mimic their sounds as best you can.
Tip #2: Get the Rhythm Correct
You need more than a proper cadence to attract turkeys. Your yelps and clucks need to have a rhythmic beat. A hen’s yelps are usually evenly paced out beats. Clucks are more staccato and erratic.
It does not matter if a wild turkey is roosting, on the ground, or lost. Their yelps will be steady. Both a hen’s clucking and cutting will vary greatly. They’re irregular in rhythm, and will even increase in frequency when the turkey grows excited or agitated.
Note the distinction and used the right rhythm for the call needed.
Tip #3: Get the Length of the Note Right Too, Not Just the Rhythm
Pay attention to the yelping of a hen. You’ll hear 3 to 4 notes per second in a series: yawp – yawp – yawp. A plain cluck – pock – is brief for the most part. Cutting can consist of several to half a dozen notes per second in rapid fire succession.
Match the length of the note as well as the sound of the note. Jakes yelp a lot, but their yelps have a coarse and rolling tone, as if they want to gobble. And they do in fact.
Tip #4: Make Sure You Can Operate on Volume Levels Other Than Loud
A hen’s yelp in the tree sounds faint and muted. It’s best heard in the range of a turkey roost. If a gobbler is near, you may hear their rowdy response.
Yelping once a hen flies down is nasal-like in quality. The lost yelp is quite loud and less subdued than other yelps. It’s tonal urgency makes it easily heard.
Practice variations in order to have the correct volume for the appropriate situation. As a gobbler nears or is roosting in a tree nearby, keep your call volume low. A loud call may scare him off.
Tip #5: Be Sure to Space Your Calls Out
Turkeys searching for others will cluck and wait for a few seconds before clucking again. Be able to distinguish the difference between clucking and cutting.
A plain cluck says, “Where are you?” You can quietly wait for the turkey to find you or you can answer back. You can also space clucks out to mimic a bird approaching. Once the turkey hears you it knows your position, so don’t call when it’s close and in sight.
You could also cluck to get an interested tom into range. Cutting reflects a series of quick, excited clucks. Only pause for 1 to 2 seconds between a series of harsh cuts.
Tip #6: Form the Correct Pitch
For mouth calling, the pitch is an either high or low tone within the range of certain calls. A hen’s yelp is of a higher pitch than a gobbler’s. Clucks should reflect the same pitch, both plain and cutting.
Contest callers will vary their pitch when they are cutting, but listening to wild turkeys will show you otherwise. Do not try to be fancy when calling for a turkey. Do the pitch that’s needed, and wait for the turkey to come to you.
Bonus Tips: Call Turkeys Like a Pro
Mouth the Call Instead of Using a Caller
Go and ask your turkey buddies what sounds they make when they yelp, and I’m sure you’ll hear a ton of different sounds. “Chalk”, “chop”, “chirp” are the common options, but usually a sound beginning with “ch” is common.
Some will say “shuck”, “shock”, or “shick”, and others may say “chee-uck”. Whatever you may use, call with snapping, beak-like lips, like a turkey.
Make a Clucking Noise
If you would like to cluck on a mouth call, say “pock,” “puck,” “tock” or “tuck” using short bursts of air. If you want to cut, run the clucks together in a fast series: “pock-pock-pock-pock”.
To get better at this, pick one of the words, break it down, and sound it out. Then roll the sounds together to get the desired sound you want. Let’s use “shock” for example.
Break it down: sho-ck. While you yelp, roll the word together: s-h-h-h-o-c-k, shhh-ock, shock. Experiment with various words to figure out which word give you the sound you want and works best for you.
Vary your cadence to imitate the live hens you hear while you are hunting. To add another dimension to your turkey calling, mix your clucking and cutting with yelping to really sound like a turkey.
Be Sure to Mix Up Various Types of Calling
You do not have to just use diaphragm calls to lure turkeys. You can only use a diaphragm if you want, but you can also combine it with box-call or pot-and-peg vocalizations.
If you’re hunting in stormy weather, it will allow a gobbler to hear you through wind gusts. If you mix calls, you can imitate several turkeys in this manner. Sometimes you’ll need to use more than one call to lure a turkey.
Again, luring a turkey takes some skill. The beginner may get lucky the first few tries. They may be able to decently mimic a gobbler call, but if they do not practice on a regular basis, they won’t be attracting many turkeys.
The diaphragm is the best call to use. If you can figure out the cadence of a turkey’s call, get your rhythms correct along with note lengths, be careful of your volume, space your calls out, and form the correct pitch, you’re all set.
Learn how to call with a diaphragm, without a diaphragm, and with both to attract turkeys. Sometimes the situation calls for more than just one type of call. If you stick to the following tips above, you should do fine. To see a video on how to use a turkey mouth call, click here. Take care, and good hunting!