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Can't Mouth Call? You Can Still Kill a Turkey

Posted by 
April 22, 2014
Published in News & Tips > Hunting > Turkey
4551   Comment

A diaphragm turkey call in the mouth of a skilled caller is turkey hunting's most lethal tool. It perfectly mimics the turkey vocabulary with no more motion than expanding lungs and a bobbing Adam's apple.

CantMouthCall 1
If you want to run-and-gun, find a nearby tree trunk to mask any hand call movement.

Yet for some hunters, a mouth call simply doesn't work. The mouth isn't shaped compatibly. The gag reflex is insurmountable. There isn't time to practice.

Other calling methods produce sounds as accurate and alluring as a mouth call, but with one universal drawback: they require motion to produce sounds. And most require moving hands to the gun or bow when the bird's within killing range.

If you're restricted to hand-operated calls, a well-conceived game plan — defensive, offensive and special skills — will boost your hunting success.

Defense in the Turkey Woods

Defense in the turkey woods is hiding yourself and your movement. Head to toe camouflage that best matches the surroundings is a given. For the hunter restricted to hand calls, as well as those who are generally fidgety, ground hunting blinds are a Godsend. Nothing hides movement better, but these blinds are not conducive to exciting run-and-gun hunting.

Focus on hiding hand movement. Blinds like umbrellas can instantly deploy at any location. Sitting comfortably in an elevated turkey chair, you can operate calls behind your legs to mask the movement. If there's a downed tree trunk nearby, go prone and call from behind the natural gun rest.

Offensive Hunting Strategies

Some calls require more movement than others. Push-button call styles require only one finger to operate, and some can be mounted to your gun allowing you to shoot without additional movement. Push button calls limit vocabulary and volume, so makers seek to adapt other styles for one hand use. The Primos Super FREAK Box Call includes a system for mounting on the thigh for one-handed operation.

CantMouthCall 3
Motion turkey decoys can make an incoming turkey focus on something other than your movement.

Motion turkey decoys focus incoming birds' attention away from your movements in calling and preparing to shoot. There are decoys which move in the breeze, are hand operated, or are motorized with remote control like the RedHead Reality Series Remote Strutter. Be certain to check which is legal in your area.

Another offensive strategy is to prepare to shoot at longer ranges. There's an amazing difference in a turkey's sensitivity beyond 50 yards and from 50 yards in. Choose a load like the new Winchester Long Beard XR, and tune it carefully with chokes and sights or scope to extend deadly range to 60 yards-plus.

Special Turkey Calling Skills

Skilled mouth callers are adept at "throwing" sound like a ventriloquist. This is a big advantage because approaching birds focus on the perceived source rather than the caller. It's not easily done with other types of calls, but can be learned. Any hand call with a turkey tube that directs the sound, like M.A.D. Calls R.I.P Yelper helps create this diversion.

Finally, hunting experience is the best teacher. Learn to read the birds and the surroundings to anticipate when a strutting tom's fan will block its vision and when the breeze will move the leaves around you so you can move.


Tagged under Read 4551 times Last modified on October 2, 2017
Bill Miller

Since age 11, Bill Miller knew he wanted to experience outdoor adventures and share them with others. He wanted to be an outdoor writer. In the decades since, he has lived and continues living his dream.

His first job out of school with North American Hunter magazine lasted 28 years and included roles as editor, author, TV host and producer, scriptwriter, spokesperson, editorial and content strategist, executive, hunting and firearms blogger, and probably best known as Executive Director of the 900,000-member North American Hunting Club. Today, Bill continues many of these pursuits in his own enterprise, Bill Miller Outdoors.

He travels widely enjoying adventures back home in Wisconsin and Minnesota as well as on five continents. He shared his adventures on national networks hosing and producing shows for NBC Sports, Versus, Outdoor Channel, Wild TV, Sportsman Channel and others. He appeared on ESPN for 13 season on "Shoot More, Shoot More Often."

Bill is a cornerstone member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association serving as a director, past president and chairman. He also sits on the board of directors of the Hunting Heritage Trust.

In 2012, Bill joined Bass Pro Shops pro staffer Brenda Valentine on the Armed Forces Entertainment Outdoor Legends Tour to Afghanistan to entertain mena and women serving in the military -- in his words, " was the greatest honor in my career and a life changing experience.

His latest venture is a new book, "Reflections Under the Big Pine" he co-authored and published with K.J. Houtman.


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