Selecting Your Turkey Calls

News & Tips: Selecting Your Turkey Calls

If you told me that I could only carry one call when turkey hunting I'd go into anaphylactic shock! Read this article and I'll convince you to do the same. I'm going to go through a list of calls and why I like them. I'll try to narrow it down and notate the ones that I think are absolutely necessary, but it will be tough.


TurkeyCalls QuakerBoyHurricaneSupreme
The box call is the old-standby for turkey calls.

Box Calls

The box call is kinda like John Wayne. How can you not respect him? He may not have carried an AR but he was an icon. The same with the old box call. To me it is the epitome of turkey hunting. I still have my old Scottish wood box call that mom and dad gave me for Christmas when I was a kid. But a few years ago I started using the Quaker Boy Hurricane Supreme box call. I love its sound and it has a water treated surface so it is not adversely affected by rain (I guess you could even use it to talk to dolphins and whales under the water).


Practice, practice and in due time you can mimic a multitude of sounds. The yelp, the purr, the cluck and so on. In the old days we put a rubber band on our boxes and shook them to get a gobble sound out of it.


But if you're in love with your old box call and can't part with it, don't panic. If it's raining just put it in a bread sack and you can still work it and it will sound fine. In case you just hit the turkey hunting world you'll rub chalk on the rubbing surfaces to help create your sound. On the Hurricane you don't have to though.


Friction Plates

There are many friction calls on the market. Experiment and see which one you like best. Some will have three different surfaces so you can simulate different sounding birds so it will sound like you are not just one hen.


Friction plates will take a minute to master. You will work in in somewhat of a C shape to obtain the sound that you want. I hit my striker rod with fine Emory cloth to rough it up so it will function if it gets too smooth. A lot of people like friction plates.


Push Boxes

Some of the old callers start off their seminars by saying that push button box calls ought to be outlawed. Even a little kid can sound realistic in a matter of minutes on one of these. My buddy Ed Sweet told me of a calling contest in which a very young girl won the contest with a push box. They are that easy to

TurkeyCalls RHRTXPurpleCall
Push button box calls are easy to learn and can be used with one hand.

Another reason they are good is that you can tape one to the forearm of your shotgun and be working it while a bird is coming in and not have to worry about dropping your call and grabbing your shotgun and spooking the bird. As he's coming in you keep pushing the rod and your safety at the same time.

Turkey Mouth Calls

There are a million mouth calls (also called diaphragm calls) on the market. Test some and see what you can best master. Some are harder than others and some sound better than others. I don't want to sound like a gunsel but I used to like the old Quaker Boys Beginner Hen. I could work it good and it sounded great to me.


You have to practice and become proficient with a reed. There are just too many benefits in using one. First, they're lightweight and take up literally no room at all. But the biggest benefit is that they are hands free. You can be working a bird and have both hands on your shotgun ready to go full auto.


Like I stated above, there are literally hundreds of reeds available. Single, double or triple reeds, split reeds and who knows what else reeds. Quaker Boy makes some foam ones that they're proud of.


Experiment with a few different reeds and get where you can master at least one. You have to learn how to use a reed. Buy some videos and practice, practice, practice. More than likely you'll garner a tip from every tape that you listen too. I used to do a lot of seminars at Bass Pro Shops. Between my seminars, I loved to attend others. I always learned something.


Most of the newer carrying cases are perforated but if not, drill a few holes in it so your reeds don't breed bacteria. It's not good to put a slobbery reed back in a sealed plastic case.


Of course you'll want a gobbler call. I don't even know what model mine is. It's easy to operate. You hold it by the end and hang your arm down loosely and shake it back and forth vigorously to produce a gobble. They are easy to master. In my turkey hunting seminars I'll call any young kid up front and in a hot second he can produce an adequate gobble. Pinch the end of the rubber though or it will fly off into the wild blue yonder.


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Mouth calls are convenient but will take practice to master.

You think we're done? Whoa, not so fast. Now we have to cover locators. These are calls we use to locate a gobbler. For whatever reason they instigate the bird to gobble. There is a whole plethora of locator calls. Let's go through some of the popular ones.


  1. Crow call. For some reason the crow call works and a lot of people use one.
  2. Owl call. many people like to simulate an owl hooting to locate their birds.
  3. Peacock call. Many people like this one too. Why does it work? Who knows? They sure in most cases have never heard a peacock before.
  4. Coyote call. The coyote call is my favorite. I use a Johnny Stewart Howler. I can almost guarantee you that if a gobbler is around and I hit it, he's going to gobble.

One year I had located a flock of six Toms. They were balled up fighting and messing around strolling here and there. I was having a hard time calling them in. I'd follow them and if I lost them and didn't know which draw they had gone up, I'd let out a howl and right away they'd gobble and I was back in the saddle. Many people tell you that while they will work that they're not good because it causes panic to the Toms since coyotes eat them. That sounds good and makes sense but in little Tommie's world I don't see that. Howlers work. Don't use them. Let me be the only one that does.


So you can see, you'll need multiple calls.