Talk The Talk Part I – Nancy Jo

Nothing compares to the sound of a tom turkey when he bellows off a gobble at the break of day. The sound thunders through the trees across the dew covered ground and vibrates off your chest leaving the hairs on the nape of your neck standing at attention. Although the gobble is the sound hunters desire to hear, there is more to the language of turkey talk. There is much more to turkey talk than just the gobble and to be a successful turkey hunter it is important to know how to “Talk Turkey.”

To be successful, it is important to know how to TALK TURKEY.
To be successful, it is important to know how to TALK TURKEY. Photo Credit: Life in Camo

The cluck, consisting of one or more short, staccato notes, is soft but can become loud and intense when a turkey becomes excited. When this happens, it is called cutting. The cluck is used in efforts of a bird getting the attention of another and used by hunters to make a tom think that a hen is waiting for him.

Click link for audio: Cluck 

The purr is a soft sound, audible only a few feet away, that turkeys make when they are content or feeding. The rolling sound can be used by hunters to lure turkeys to their location.

Click link for audio: Purr

The cluck and purr is often used together by content, feeding hens as well.

Click link for audio: Cluck and Purr

The cutting of an excited hen is the cluck and purr used together in fast, loud, and erratic fashion which can be heard from great distances. This call is usually used by a single hen looking for companionship. It can be used by hunters to get the attention of a tom.

Click link for audio: Cutting

The putt is a single note, a short, sharp cluck associated with danger or alarm. Sometimes the notes are repeated in rapid fashion. When a hunter hears this sound, they are usually busted by the bird or the bird has spotted something that is wrong.

Click link for audio: Putt

The tree yelp is a series of soft yelps, often muffled, from roosted birds. It is usually made in early morning for locating and accounting for all roosted birds.

Click link for audio: Tree Yelp

The plain yelp of a hen is a single not vocalization that is longer and louder than the tree yelp and is a basic turkey sound. The plain yelp can have different meanings depending on how the hen uses it. It is primarily used during feeding when visual contact with the flock is lost.

Click link for audio: Plain Yelp

The lost yelp is similar to the plain yelp, but it is much louder and longer, and it has a sense of urgency. The lost yelp is used by a lost bird to locate a flock or another lone bird.

Click link for audio: Lost Yelp

The assembly call is a series of loud yelps, usually made by a boss or alpha hen, in order to assemble her flock or her young poults.

Click link for audio: Assembly Call

The kee kee run is the lost call of a young turkey in efforts of being located by a flock or boss hen. It is a whistling, whining call often followed by soft clucks. This call can be very successful to hunters in both Spring and Fall hunting to call in an adult bird.

Click link for audio: Kee Kee Run

The cackle is a series of loud, excited clucks in rapid succession, sometimes followed by a few yelps, and is associated with movement. It can also be heard when a bird is flying up to roost or pitching down from the roost.

Click link for audio: Fly Down Cackle

The gobble is the vocalization of the tom turkey and is primarily used in the Spring to let hens know he is in the area. The tom will gobble from a morning roost before flying down from its roost and when he is strutting. He will also shock gobble; which is when they gobble to a loud, abrupt sound.

Click link for audio: Gobble

When a tom struts, he makes a soft sound that comes from inside him. The sound is similar to “phhttt-dummm” and is a soft, blowing baritone sound. The sound alerts hens the the tom is in the area.

Locator calls are used by hunters early in the morning to late in the afternoon to force a tom turkey to gobble, giving away his location. Locator calls need to be loud to penetrate the woods, they have to be natural to the immediate environment and non-predatory. This type call is usually a hoot owl, varied owl, a crow, a hawk’s scream, or a crane call depending on what animals are native to the area being hunted.

Click link for audio: Crow Call  or  Owl Hoot Call

All sound clips and audio courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation

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