While calling may not be so important when hunting deer, when it comes to trying to track down and bag an elusive gobbler, a good turkey call can easily mean the difference between success and failure. Simply put, you're extremely unlikely to simply stumble across a tom that's within range of your shotgun, as the noise you make traipsing through the forest will usually scare him away long before you even catch a glimpse. On the other hand, with the best turkey calls you can not only locate any nearby turkeys, but also spike their curiosity enough so that they come to you.
However, actually finding the best call is not always a simple task. Not only are there several styles of calls and thousands upon thousands of different models for you to choose from, but also, how well each call works will depend in large part on your level of skill. There are at least a few different types of easy-to-use calls ideally suited to beginners and even those who've never once been turkey hunting, but there are also several styles of calls best left to more advanced and expert callers.
Anyone has the ability to learn to use any type of turkey call, it just all depends on how much time you're willing to spend attempting to master the proper technique and also how well you know all of the various sounds a turkey can make. For this reason, most experts recommend that beginners start off with one or two of the simpler-to-use calls—learning how to master and successfully hunt with them—before eventually moving on to the more advanced calls and techniques. After all, even simple box calls or push-pull calls are often all you need to successfully bag a big bird.
To give you a better idea of the options available to you and which one is right for you, we'll now take a look at the various types of calls. As well, in this guide you can also find a number of turkey calling tips, as well as reviews of some of the best turkey calls on the market today.
Choosing the Right Turkey Call
Here are the various types of turkey calls:
The simplest of all turkey calls, friction calls are by far the best turkey calls for beginners, allowing you to quickly learn to create a range of realistic noises. As the name suggests, these calls use some form of friction to produce their sounds, which makes them quite simple to master.
Box calls, pot calls and push-pull calls are all basic friction calls. Of the three, pot calls take the most skill to master, but if used properly, can create incredibly realistic clucking noises. On the other hand, box calls are quite useful for making cackling sounds. Push-pull or push-button box calls are the easiest to use, although even experts find them handy as they can make a wide range of different sounds, including purrs, clucks and yelps.
Much more closely resembling deer, duck and other calls, these calls use a piece of rubber or latex stretched over the end of a tube that allows you to recreate almost any noise a turkey could make, even authentic gobbles. These are definitely not the easiest calls to master, but if you can get the hang of using one, it could easily become the most effective tool in your calling arsenal.
Like tube calls, diaphragm calls can take quite a bit of practice to get the hang of. However, they also produce the most realistic sounds. As well, since they fit directly into your mouth, they also allow you to keep both hands on your gun.
Due to the small size, low price and authentic sounds they produce, diaphragm calls are far and away the most popular type of call available. Still, as the technique for using each different type of diaphragm call takes a bit of time to perfect, you're better off sticking with basic friction calls until you fully get the hang of it.
A must have for any turkey hunter, a locator call allows you to learn the location of any nearby turkeys. While all of the other calls are designed to mimic turkey noises, locator calls instead mimic the noise of a hawk, owl, crow, duck, goose, woodpecker or other animal. When you blow in these calls, any nearby tom will let out a gobble—allowing you to pinpoint exactly where he is or locate his roost.
Turkey Calling Apps
While all of the above calls require at least a small amount of practice and skill, if you don't feel like putting in the time, you can always download one of the many different turkey calls apps for your smartphone. Of course, the effectiveness of these apps will depend on the strength of your speakers. Still, there are definitely hunters who have successfully used calling apps, as they give you the entire range of turkey calls at your fingertips.
Ins and Outs of Mouth Calling
Diaphragm calls are made of a horseshoe shaped piece of plastic, over which is stretched a reed or reeds made of latex or rubber. These small calls are designed to fit snugly up against the roof of your mouth, and sound is created by blowing air across the top of the call and thus causing the latex or reed to vibrate. While it may sound simple enough, there's a lot more to it than simply blowing, as moving your tongue or changing the amount of air pressure results in different sounds. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you can even start speaking various words as you blow in an attempt to create realistic sounding clucks, yelps and other noises.
There are a huge range of different diaphragm calls available, which vary based on the number of reeds and the number of frames. The most basic type of diaphragm call—and the one most suited towards beginners—features only one or two clean (not cut) latex reeds.
From there, they move up to basic three and four reed calls. There are also a range of multiple reed calls that utilize a special cut in the latex to allow them to make a range of different sounds. You can also find double frame and triple frame diaphragm calls, which use either two or three frames, each of which holds additional reeds. The addition of the extra sets of reeds allows these calls to make an even wider range of sounds, but as you'd expect, it also makes them more difficult to master. As well, the additional frames also mean these calls tend to be a bit bigger and bulkier inside your mouth.
While beginners are best to stick with a more basic mouth call (such as a clean double), intermediate and advanced callers can choose from many different three and four-reed calls in a range of reed cut designs. Double cuts, batwings, split-v's, w-cuts, ghost cuts, cutters, 2.5s, halfbacks and more—each cut style slightly changes the tone and/or pitch of the call, thus allowing you to create a range of different sounds.
These cut-reed calls generally produce slightly raspier, more authentic noises than standard clean calls. However, they also require a larger volume of air and can take a bit longer to get the hang of. Still, if you do get master them, diaphragm calls are easily the best turkey calls for the money.
In terms of the differences between each cut style, there's really no one style that's any better than the others. All of them can be useful in certain situations if you know how to use them properly. Luckily, not only are diaphragm calls generally quite inexpensive, but most brands also sell them in packs of two to five—enabling you to try out several different cut styles to find the one you like best or find most effective.
Now that you know a bit more about the different types of calls, we'll now look into some of the top products currently on the market.
Best Turkey Calls for All Skill Levels
There's really no end to the number of high-quality turkey calls on the market, as virtually any type of call you buy can be useful in certain situations provided you know how to use it properly. In fact, there generally isn't that much difference between various brands and models of box calls, pot calls, tube calls, etc, as most models in each category work almost exactly the same way.
This makes choosing the absolute best calls virtually impossible. That being said, each of the calls featured below does stand out from its competitors for one reason or another, and all are considered amongst the best turkey calls on the market today.
One of the most innovative box calls on the market, the Primos Hook-Up uses a magnetic lid closure and magnetic hinge that allows you to create ultra-realistic sounds. As well, the magnet allows you to detach the paddle from the box, ensuring you won't make unwanted noises as you’re walking. Although the sounds it produces are generally no better than on most other box calls, the addition of the magnetic lid sets this product apart and easily makes it one of the best turkey box calls on the market. Both beginners and experts should definitely find that this call does the trick.
In truth, most all diaphragm calls are the same, with the only major difference being the number of reeds and the shape of the cuts. Nonetheless, these Hunter Specialties' diaphragm calls have a great reputation for quality and excellence. With this combo pack, you get four of their most popular and effective two and three reed calls, each with its own special cut style (li'l strut, smokin' gun, deuce cutter and sickle cutter).
Considered to be amongst the easiest to blow diaphragms on the market, the four calls in this combo pack ensure you'll have a whole range of different sounds at your disposal. As well, these diaphragm calls are easily among the best turkey calls for spring and fall hunts.
Each type of pot call (aluminum, glass, slate, etc.) produces a slightly different range of sounds, and many experts recommend having at least two different surfaces to enable you greater calling variation. This is why the Knight & Hale Dual Threat is such a great choice, as it comes with both a glass and a slate pot call to enable you to produce sounds of varying pitch.
Hands-down one of the easiest calls to use, this push-button call enables even absolute beginners to quickly make realistic sounding clucks, yelps and purrs. This push-button box call is made from solid walnut for a handsome, durable finish and provides precise fingertip control that makes it easy to master.
Turkey Calling Tips & Common Mistakes
The biggest mistake most novice turkey callers make is not spending the time it takes to learn how to make at least a few different sounds. Virtually any style of call—whether it be a box call, pot call or diaphragm—can make various yelps, clucks, cuts and cackles. However, each one requires a special technique, which varies depending on the type of call you're using. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to improve your calling skills is to find videos or information on how to produce each different noise using your specific type of call.
Another common mistake many hunters make is not accurately mimicking the tone and cadence of a real turkey. It's important that your yelps, clucks, gobbles and other noises sound as realistic as possible, but unfortunately, this can only happen if you're already fully familiar with the range of noises a turkey can produce. For this reason, it's also important that you take the time to familiarize yourself with all of the sounds, either through watching videos, listening to the sounds on a turkey calling app, or best of all, sitting out in the field and practicing your calling along with a group of wild turkeys.
Having the ability to vary your turkey calls—trying out a range of different clucks, kee-kees, cuts and cackles—is definitely one of the best ways you can improve your chances of success. You simply never know what call will work, so it's always a good idea to vary up your calling. While this can often be done with either a tube call or a handful of diaphragm calls, it never hurts to have at least one or two other types of calls handy, as sometimes a turkey may only respond to one particular type.
At the end of the day, the best turkey calls are the ones you know how to use most effectively. Therefore, instead of running out and buying every new call you see, you're much better off sticking with a few calls and learning how to use them properly.