How to Use a Turkey Mouth Call: Mastering the Art of Turkey Calling

Are you a passionate turkey hunter looking to enhance your skills and increase your chances of success? If so, learning how to effectively use a turkey mouth call can be a game-changer. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of using a turkey mouth call, also known as a diaphragm call, to lure in those elusive gobblers.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, let’s understand what a turkey mouth call is. It is a small device made of latex or similar materials that mimics the sounds of a turkey. By placing the call in your mouth and manipulating your tongue, you can produce a wide range of realistic turkey vocalizations, including yelps, purrs, clucks, and gobbles. Mastering the use of a turkey mouth call will enable you to communicate with turkeys effectively, increasing your chances of calling them within range.

Choosing the Right Mouth Call

When it comes to choosing a turkey mouth call, it’s essential to consider your personal preferences and skill level. There are various types of mouth calls available, each with its unique characteristics and sound qualities. Let’s explore some of the popular options:

1. Single-Reed Mouth Calls

Single-reed mouth calls are an excellent choice for beginners. They are easy to use and produce a wide range of turkey sounds with minimal effort. With a single latex reed, these calls offer versatility and are suitable for producing both soft and loud calls. They are also more forgiving for beginners who may struggle with tongue placement.

2. Double-Reed Mouth Calls

Double-reed mouth calls are a popular choice among experienced hunters. They offer more control and versatility in producing a variety of turkey sounds. The two reeds create a raspier tone, which can be effective in certain hunting situations. However, they require a bit more practice and finesse to master compared to single-reed calls.

3. Triple-Reed Mouth Calls

Triple-reed mouth calls are known for their ease of use and forgiving nature. They are great for hunters who prefer a softer, mellower sound. These calls require less air pressure and tongue control, making them suitable for hunters with less experience or those who have difficulty generating strong air pressure.

4. Custom Mouth Calls

If you’re looking for a mouth call tailored to your specific needs and preferences, consider investing in a custom mouth call. Custom calls are handcrafted by experienced call makers and can be personalized to produce your desired sound. These calls often come with unique features, such as custom reed cuts and materials, allowing for a truly customized calling experience.

When choosing a mouth call, it’s crucial to try out different options and experiment with different sounds. What works for one hunter may not work for another, so don’t be afraid to test out various mouth calls until you find the one that suits your style and produces the desired turkey sounds.

Preparing Your Mouth Call

Properly preparing your mouth call is essential for optimal performance and longevity. By conditioning and maintaining your call, you can ensure consistent sound quality and prolong its lifespan. Here’s how to prepare your mouth call:

1. Conditioning the Call

Conditioning your mouth call involves breaking it in and removing any unwanted taste or odor. Start by placing the call in your mouth and sucking on it gently. This process helps remove any manufacturing residue and loosens up the latex reeds. After sucking on the call, give it a few clucks and yelps to further break it in.

2. Cleaning and Drying the Call

Regular cleaning is vital to maintain the sound quality and prevent the buildup of bacteria. After each use, rinse the call with warm water to remove saliva and debris. You can use a mild soap or mouthwash for a more thorough cleaning. Make sure to rinse the call thoroughly and allow it to air dry completely before storing it.

3. Storing the Call

Proper storage is crucial to protect your mouth call from damage and maintain its shape. Avoid exposing the call to extreme temperatures, as it can affect the latex reeds. Store the call in a clean, dry place, preferably in a case or pouch designed specifically for mouth calls. This will prevent the call from accumulating dirt, dust, or moisture.

By conditioning, cleaning, and storing your mouth call properly, you can ensure that it is always in top-notch condition and ready for your next hunting adventure.

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Positioning the Mouth Call

Learning the correct way to position the mouth call in your mouth is essential for producing clear and accurate turkey sounds. Here’s a step-by-step guide on achieving the perfect placement:

1. Find Your Comfort Zone

Start by finding a comfortable position for the mouth call in your mouth. Relax your facial muscles and avoid clenching your teeth. The call should rest on your tongue, with the reeds facing up towards the roof of your mouth.

2. Locate the Roof of Your Mouth

Using your tongue, feel for the bony ridge along the roof of your mouth, known as the palatal shelf. This is the area where you will place the mouth call to produce the desired turkey sounds. Find the sweet spot where the call feels secure and stable.

3. Adjusting the Angle

Experiment with different angles of the mouth call to find the one that produces the best sound. Tilt the call slightly forward or backward while keeping it firmly in place on the roof of your mouth. The angle may vary depending on the specific call and the sound you are trying to achieve.

4. Tongue Placement

Your tongue plays a crucial role in controlling the sound produced by the mouth call. For higher-pitched sounds like yelps, place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth near the front teeth. For deeper, raspier sounds like gobbles, flatten your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

5. Air Control

Controlling the air pressure and flow is another important aspect of using a mouth call effectively. Use your diaphragm to control the airflow and generate the desired sound. Experiment with different levels of air pressure and practice controlling the airflow to produce various turkey sounds.

Remember, finding the perfect mouth call position may take some time and practice. Experiment with different techniques and adjust according to your comfort and the desired sound you want to produce.

Mastering Basic Turkey Sounds

In turkey hunting, mastering the basic turkey sounds is essential for effectively communicating with turkeys. Let’s explore some of the fundamental turkey vocalizations and how to execute them:

1. The Yelp

The yelp is the most common turkey vocalization and is used by both hens and gobblers. It consists of a series of rhythmic, high-pitched notes. To produce a yelp, apply gentle, consistent pressure with your diaphragm while exhaling air. Start with a few soft, subtle yelps and gradually increase the volume and intensity to mimic the sound of a turkey.

2. The Cluck

The cluck is a short, sharp sound made by turkeys to get the attention of others. It is often used as a reassuring call or to maintain contact within a flock. To produce a cluck, apply quick bursts of air with your diaphragm, creating a distinct “putt” sound. Experiment with different levels of air pressure to vary the intensity of the cluck.

3. The Purr

The purr is a soft, rolling sound made by contented turkeys. It is often used as a calming call or to communicate with other turkeys at close range. To produce a purr, apply gentle, controlled bursts of air with your diaphragm while maintaining a relaxed tongue position. The purr should have a smooth, continuous rhythm, resembling the sound of a cat’s purring.

4. The Gobble

The gobble is a distinctive and attention-grabbing sound made by male turkeys, also known as toms or gobblers. It is primarily used to announce their presence and attract hens during the breeding season. Gobbling is typically achieved using a gobble tube or a specialized mouth call specifically designed for gobbling sounds.

5. The Cutting

The cutting is an excited and aggressive call made by hens. It is often used to indicate a sense of urgency or to challenge other turkeys. To produce a cutting sound, rapidly and forcefully exhale air through the mouth call, creating a series of quick, sharp notes. The cutting sequence should be fast and irregular, mimicking the sound of a hen in an excited state.

Mastering these basic turkey sounds will provide you with a solid foundation for effective turkey calling. Remember to practice each sound individually and then experiment with combining them to create realistic and convincing turkey conversations.

Advanced Turkey Vocalizations

Once you have mastered the basic turkey sounds, it’s time to explore the more advanced vocalizations that can take your turkey calling skills to the next level

Advanced Turkey Vocalizations

Once you have mastered the basic turkey sounds, it’s time to explore the more advanced vocalizations that can take your turkey calling skills to the next level. These advanced vocalizations can help you mimic the sounds of a mature turkey and increase your chances of drawing in that trophy tom. Let’s dive into some of these advanced turkey vocalizations:

1. Gobbles

The gobble is the signature sound of a male turkey, and mastering this vocalization can be a game-changer during the breeding season. To produce a gobble with a mouth call, you’ll need a specialized call designed specifically for gobbling. These calls usually have a built-in resonator or tube that amplifies the sound. Practice using quick bursts of air and varying the pitch to create a realistic gobble.

2. Kee-Kee Run

The kee-kee run is a vocalization made by young turkeys, also known as poults. It’s a high-pitched, whistling sound that serves as a contact call between young turkeys and adult hens. Mastering the kee-kee run can be particularly effective during fall turkey hunting or when targeting flocks with young birds. Use your mouth call to produce a series of high-pitched whistles with a rolling, descending pattern.

3. Fly-Down Cackle

The fly-down cackle is a vocalization made by turkeys as they leave their roost in the morning. It’s a series of rapid and excited yelps that gradually transition into softer clucks and purrs. Mastering the fly-down cackle can help you create a realistic soundscape of turkeys waking up and flying down from the roost. Practice using your mouth call to produce a sequence of fast, high-pitched yelps followed by softer clucks and purrs.

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4. Fighting Purrs

Fighting purrs are aggressive vocalizations made by turkeys during dominance disputes. It’s a deep, rolling sound that indicates a turkey’s readiness to fight. Mastering fighting purrs can be effective during the breeding season when competing with other toms for hens. Use your mouth call to produce a series of low, guttural purrs with short pauses in between to mimic the sound of two toms engaged in a fight.

5. Excited Assembly Calls

Excited assembly calls are vocalizations made by hens to gather and assemble a flock. These calls are often used in response to other turkeys’ vocalizations or when the flock is regrouping. Mastering excited assembly calls can be useful when trying to locate scattered turkeys or calling in a flock. Use your mouth call to produce a series of loud and excited yelps, clucks, and purrs to mimic the sound of a hen gathering her flock.

By mastering these advanced turkey vocalizations, you can add depth and realism to your turkey calling repertoire. Practice each vocalization individually and then experiment with combining them to create realistic turkey conversations that will fool even the wariest gobblers.

Turkey Calling Techniques

While mastering turkey vocalizations is essential, understanding and employing proper turkey calling techniques can significantly increase your chances of success in the field. Different situations call for different calling techniques, and being able to adapt to various scenarios is key to convincing turkeys to come within range. Let’s explore some essential turkey calling techniques:

1. Soft Calling

Soft calling is a technique used to mimic the sounds of contented turkeys or to lure in shy and cautious gobblers. It involves using gentle and subtle turkey vocalizations to create a sense of calm and security. Practice producing soft yelps, purrs, and clucks with your mouth call. Keep the volume low and the rhythm relaxed to replicate the sounds of turkeys that are at ease.

2. Aggressive Calling

Aggressive calling is a technique employed to challenge or provoke a dominant tom into responding and approaching your position. It involves using loud and intense turkey vocalizations to mimic the sounds of an aggressive or competing turkey. Practice producing loud and rapid yelps, cutting, and excited assembly calls with your mouth call. Use these vocalizations to create a sense of competition or to trigger the territorial instincts of gobblers.

3. Calling Sequences

Calling sequences refer to the specific order and combination of turkey vocalizations used during a calling session. Different calling sequences can be employed to mimic various turkey behaviors or scenarios. Experiment with different calling sequences, such as starting with soft yelps and gradually increasing the intensity, or alternating between yelps, clucks, and purrs. Pay attention to the turkey’s response and adjust your calling sequence accordingly.

4. Mimicking Realistic Cadences

One of the keys to effective turkey calling is mimicking the natural cadences and rhythms of wild turkeys. Turkeys rarely produce vocalizations in a consistent and mechanical manner. Instead, they often incorporate pauses, variations in volume, and irregular patterns into their calls. Practice adding these natural elements to your calling by incorporating pauses between vocalizations, varying the volume and intensity, and using irregular patterns and rhythms. This will make your calls sound more authentic and convincing to approaching turkeys.

5. Decoy Placement and Calling

Combining decoys with your turkey calling can be a highly effective strategy for luring in gobblers. Proper decoy placement, along with strategic calling, can create a realistic and enticing scenario for approaching turkeys. Experiment with different decoy setups, such as placing a hen decoy in a feeding position and using soft yelps and purrs to mimic contented turkeys. Alternatively, use aggressive calling techniques in combination with a jake or strutting tom decoy to elicit a dominant tom’s response.

Remember, turkey calling techniques are not one-size-fits-all, and success often hinges on your ability to adapt your calling to the specific hunting situation. Pay attention to turkey behavior, adjust your calling accordingly, and be prepared to switch techniques if your initial approach doesn’t yield results.

Using Mouth Calls with Other Turkey Calls

While a turkey mouth call can be a powerful tool on its own, combining it with other turkey calls can create a more realistic and convincing soundscape. Incorporating different calls into your turkey hunting setup can increase your chances of luring in gobblers and create a more immersive hunting experience. Let’s explore how you can effectively use mouth calls in conjunction with other turkey calls:

1. Slate Calls

Slate calls, also known as pot calls, are popular turkey calls that produce realistic turkey sounds. They consist of a round slate or glass surface and a striker that is rubbed against the surface to create the desired sound. To use a mouth call in combination with a slate call, start by using the mouth call to produce soft yelps or purrs. Then, transition to the slate call to create more subtle and nuanced sounds. This combination can mimic the sounds of multiple turkeys and add depth to your calling.

2. Box Calls

Box calls are another effective tool for producing turkey sounds. They consist of a rectangular wooden box and a paddle that is moved across the surface to create the desired sound. To incorporate a mouth call with a box call, begin by using the mouth call to produce loud and aggressive yelps or cutting sounds. Then, complement the mouth call with the box call to produce softer and more subtle sounds. This combination can create a realistic soundscape of multiple turkeys interacting and increase your chances of attracting gobblers.

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3. Locator Calls

Locator calls, such as owl hooters, crow calls, or coyote howlers, are used to locate and elicit a response from turkeys. These calls mimic the sounds of other animals that turkeys react to, triggering them to gobble or reveal their presence. To use a locator call in combination with a mouth call, start by using the locator call to elicit a response from turkeys. Once you have determined the location of gobblers, switch to the mouth call to mimic the sounds of turkeys and draw them in closer.

4. Electronic Calls

Electronic calls are devices that produce pre-recorded turkey sounds at the push of a button. They can be highly effective for attracting turkeys, especially when hunting in open areas or areas with low turkey populations. To incorporate a mouth call with an electronic call, start by using the electronic call to grab the attention of turkeys and elicit a response. Once the turkeys are within range, switch to the mouth call to create a more realistic and interactive calling experience.

Remember, when using multiple turkey calls, it’s essential to practice proper timing and coordination. Start with one call and gradually introduce the other calls to create a natural and convincing soundscape. Pay attention to turkey behavior and adjust your calling accordingly to increase your chances of success.

Practicing and Perfecting Your Calling

As with any skill, practice makes perfect when it comes to turkey calling. Consistent practice and honing your calling abilities will greatly improve your chances of success in the field. Here are some valuable tips and exercises to help you practice and perfect your turkey calling:

1. Daily Practice

Make turkey calling a part of your daily routine. Set aside dedicated practice time eachday to work on your turkey calls. Consistent practice will help improve muscle memory and strengthen your ability to produce accurate and convincing turkey sounds.

2. Record and Evaluate

Record yourself while practicing your turkey calls. This will allow you to listen back and evaluate your performance. Pay attention to the clarity, pitch, and overall quality of your calls. Identify areas where you can improve and make adjustments accordingly.

3. Mimic Real-Life Situations

Try to recreate real-life hunting scenarios during your practice sessions. Imagine different hunting situations and practice calling as if you were in those scenarios. This will help you develop the ability to adapt your calling to different hunting conditions and increase your chances of success in the field.

4. Focus on Specific Calls

Isolate specific turkey calls and focus on mastering them individually. Practice producing consistent and accurate yelps, clucks, purrs, and other vocalizations. Pay attention to the nuances of each call and work on replicating the natural sounds of turkeys.

5. Vary Your Practice Sessions

Keep your practice sessions varied and engaging. Instead of repeating the same calls over and over, mix it up and challenge yourself. Practice different calling sequences, experiment with different techniques, and try to mimic the sounds of different turkey behaviors.

6. Seek Feedback

Ask for feedback from experienced turkey hunters or join a turkey calling competition. Getting feedback from others can help you identify areas for improvement and gain valuable insights from seasoned hunters. Take their feedback constructively and use it to refine your calling skills.

7. Hunt with Experienced Callers

If possible, hunt with experienced turkey callers or join guided hunts. Observing and hunting alongside skilled callers can provide valuable learning opportunities. Pay attention to their techniques, calling strategies, and how they adapt their calls to different hunting situations.

8. Practice Realistic Calling Scenarios

Simulate realistic calling scenarios during your practice sessions. Set up decoys, imagine different hunting scenarios, and practice calling as if you were in the field. This will help you develop the ability to call under pressure and replicate real-life hunting situations.

9. Stay Tuned to Turkey Sounds

Listen to recordings of wild turkeys and study their sounds. Familiarize yourself with the various vocalizations turkeys make in different situations. By understanding and internalizing these sounds, you’ll be better equipped to replicate them with your mouth call.

Remember, practice and persistence are key to perfecting your turkey calling skills. The more time and effort you invest in practicing, the more confident and effective you will become in the field. So, embrace the challenge, keep practicing, and enjoy the journey of becoming a master turkey caller.

Real-World Turkey Calling Scenarios

In the world of turkey hunting, being able to adapt your turkey calling techniques to different scenarios is crucial for success. Let’s explore some common turkey hunting scenarios and the appropriate calling strategies to employ:

1. Opening Day

On the opening day of turkey season, turkeys are typically less call-shy and more responsive. Start with soft yelps and purrs to imitate contented turkeys. Gradually increase the volume and intensity of your calls to draw the attention of gobblers. Aggressive calling techniques, such as cutting and excited assembly calls, can also be effective.

2. Mid-Season Pressure

As the season progresses and turkeys encounter more hunting pressure, they become more cautious and call-shy. In these scenarios, opt for soft and subtle calling techniques. Use soft yelps, purrs, and clucks to mimic the sounds of relaxed and non-threatening turkeys. Avoid aggressive calling techniques that might spook turkeys.

3. Roosted Birds

When you locate turkeys roosted in the morning, it’s important to approach the area quietly and avoid excessive calling. Use soft tree yelps or owl hoots to elicit a response from the roosted birds. Once they start gobbling, switch to soft yelps and purrs to maintain their interest and draw them closer.

4. Henned-Up Gobblers

Dealing with henned-up gobblers can be challenging, as they are already in the company of receptive hens. In these situations, use hen calls sparingly and focus on imitating the sounds of an interested hen. Soft yelps, clucks, and purrs can help pique the curiosity of both the gobbler and the hens, potentially luring them away from each other.

5. Calling to Locate

When hunting in unfamiliar territory or trying to locate turkeys, using locator calls can be highly effective. Owl hooters, crow calls, or coyote howlers can be used to elicit shock gobbles from turkeys. Once you locate a gobbling tom, switch to turkey calls to mimic the sounds of a hen and draw him closer.

6. Late Season Breeding

In the late season, turkeys are focused on breeding, and toms are more receptive to calling. Use aggressive calling techniques to mimic competing toms and provoke a response. Loud yelps, cutting, and gobbling can be effective in these scenarios. However, be cautious not to overcall, as turkeys may become call-shy by this time of the season.

Remember, every hunting scenario is unique, and adapting your calling strategies based on turkey behavior and response is key to success. Pay attention to turkey vocalizations, observe their reactions, and adjust your calls accordingly. With practice and experience, you’ll become adept at reading turkeys and calling them within range.

Jhonedy Cobb

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