This time of year most of us dedicated turkey hunters are preparing for the coming season. New turkey hunters and veterans alike ask the same questions, “How can I be a better turkey caller?” “How can I bring in those beautiful birds consistently?”
Most turkey hunters have the basics down when it comes to how to make each call, but what a lot of hunters lack is the understanding behind these sounds. We have listened to the turkey’s make those noises which cause our pulses to race and have us grinning under our camouflage masks. Family and friends have had us imitating calls since we started hunting. But what do those sounds truly mean? Do most hunters understand the “turkey emotion” behind the “turkey talk.”
A wild turkey yelp is a multi-purpose, 3 to 12 note series used to locate turkeys in the day. Yelps often times follow a “true cadence” or pattern, but wild birds will sometimes have “skips” or “half beats” and their number of yelps will vary from bird to bird.
The yelp is made by both hens and gobblers, but a gobbler yelp is more of a deep throaty sound and is slower than a hen yelp.
Some hunters refer to the yelp as the “Love Call” and it is a call that every turkey hunter should master!
Another form of the yelp is called the “Tree Yelp”. Tree yelps are shorter than a standard yelp, and are also made by both sexes. This call is used as a way to let other birds know that everything is ok when they wake up in the mornings.
Wild turkeys basically use clucks to say “I am here, where are you?” They are made by both hens and gobblers, and are used any time of the day. Clucks are the most commonly and frequently used calls a wild turkey will make.
A cluck is a soft to loud call with a detached series of notes that are somewhat sharp and short.
Another major call used by wild turkeys is the “Cutt”. Cutting is a fast, irregular series of clucks. Cutts are used by lost or lonely hens, and can be a quite effective call to use in the spring, because it is basically telling the gobbler that this hen is ready to mate.
Cutting is usually aggressive, loud, and will last from 5 to 20 seconds.
When wild turkeys are relaxed or content, they will purr, much like a house cat will do. Although the sound is different, the idea is the same. Wild turkey purring is a soft fluttering call that is used by both sexes of birds to show this feeling of contentment or relaxation.
Purrs are also used during feeding, and when used for this practice it is thought to be a way for one bird to say to another “I am feeding here”.
Hunters can effectively use purring to coax that gobbler in the last few yards into shotgun or bow range.
Putting is by far the WORST sound you want to hear a turkey make in the woods!!! Putting is used by turkeys to let others know that they don’t like something or something is out of place.
Putts are basically a very loud, clear cluck, but with a totally different meaning. This being said, again it is the worst sound you could have a turkey make during the hunting season!
Now that we have addressed the basic sounds that a wild turkey makes, hopefully we can all take this knowledge with us into the woods this spring. I hope this information will help each hunter reading this understand these birds more.
Good luck this spring! Be safe, ethical, and enjoy these magnificent birds and the wonder of nature in the spring.