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How to Call in Turkeys

Photo Credit: Game and Fish

Now that you know where you’re hunting, what type of turkey you’ll be hunting, and how to set up your decoys, you’re ready to introduce turkey calls to your list of bowhunting skills. The different turkey subspecies respond differently to calls, so be sure to refer to our previous blog post to determine how the turkeys in your region will react.

Turkeys have razor sharp eyesight, so when you’re calling them in you want to make sure you’re as hidden as possible. Ideally, the turkey would only see the decoys in the middle of the field and nothing else. Hearing a call off in the distance will intrigue them to follow the noise, but it’s important to let up when they start getting closer. Turkeys scare easily, so you don’t want to frighten them by calling too aggressively. You can call loudly and frequently when the turkeys are far away, but as soon as they get close, back off the gas pedal and slow down the calling.

Whether you’re hunting on foot or in a blind, try not to start calling until you have your decoys set out. The turkeys will become confused if they come running to the call, but don’t see anything when they come in closer. If you’re hunting on foot make sure your decoy is in an open area while you crouch nearby. You don’t want to get too close to the decoy, otherwise the bird will spot you when they come in to investigate.


Hens are vocal to alert the male turkeys of their location. They “cluck” with varying urgency and they usually pick up in the spring. Hens will cluck multiple times in a row to make sure the toms know where they are. Recreating clucking is a great call to use at the beginning to lure the turkeys in.


If the turkey is coming closer, but you can tell it’s still skeptical, use a purring sound to make them feel safe. Turkeys purr just like a cat when they’re feeding. Rustle the ground softly to mimic the sound of a turkey kicking its feet while eating.

Pot Calls

Pot calls are going to be one of the easiest calls to use if you’re just starting out. These calls consist of the circular base (pot) and the mechanism that pushes against the pot to make the sound (striker). Once you get the hang of how much pressure and force is needed to make certain sounds, you can use this call in varying intensity from quiet to loud calls.

Diaphragm Calls

Diaphragm calls use a reed, like wind instruments, that you wedge in your mouth and blow air over to make the sound. These calls are more difficult to learn, but once mastered they allow you have your hands free so you can call with your bow poised and ready.

Turkeys gobble in response to calls they hear or in attempt to alarm others. While hearing the gobble is what you’re hoping for, you don’t want to recreate the gobble directly. You want to use the other sounds turkeys make without copying the gobble.

Turkeys are very sensitive creatures and can see clearly from miles away, which means you need to be well hidden before you start using your calls. What tactics do you use to draw in turkeys? Which type of calls are your favorite? Let us know!

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