Updated May 27, 2019 by Taber Koeghan

The 10 Best Turkey Calls

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This wiki has been edited 23 times since it was first published in October of 2017. If it's hunting season and you're thinking about going out and bagging yourself that Thanksgiving dinner, it would be wise to invest in a quality turkey call. These nifty products allow users to imitate various bird sounds and attract prey more quickly. Our list includes models of all types so you can find the perfect match for your needs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best turkey call on Amazon.

10. Hunters Specialties H.S. Strut Smokin' Gun

9. Primos Hoot Flute

8. Cass Creek Ergo

7. The Gobbler Shaker

6. Lynch World Champion

5. Primos Hunting Hook

4. Harmon Scents Humpin' Hen

3. Primos Starter Pack

2. Knight & Hale Ol' Yeller Classic

1. Primos Jackpot

Attracting A Big Gobbler

Each side of the box underneath the lid is arched with its shortest points at each end and the tallest points in the middle of the call box.

In addition to smell and sight, many animals leverage some form of vocal communication to alert one another to their presence. Wolves, for example, will often initiate howls to warn others of their species to stay away from their territory or to let members of their own pack know where to find them. But when it comes to humans locating animals for hunting purposes, a similar type of communication by imitation can get the animal's attention. If you're on the hunt for the next Thanksgiving turkey, and you appreciate the thrill of the hunt over picking a bird out at your local grocery store, you'll need a handy turkey call to help make the kill.

A turkey call is a device designed to reproduce the unique vocalizations these creatures make in the wild. Using the device attracts the birds out into the open, making them easy to spot when hunting. Several types of turkey calls exist and generally fall into one of two categories: friction and air-blown devices. Friction calls produce noise by rubbing two surfaces together, whereas air-blown calls rely on air pressure to vibrate internal reeds in order to accomplish the same thing.

One of the most common and popular types of turkey calls is the box call. This device is equipped with a paddle (or lid), made from a thin piece of wood that is both longer and wider than its base. At one end of the lid is a handle, while the other end is directly connected to the box by a screw. The lid is not tightened down, which allows it to swing freely back and forth. The sound produced from a box call comes from the movements of its lid across one of the sides, creating a vibration. This vibration resonates through the box and emits tonal qualities ranging from high to low, mimicking the yelp of a hen turkey.

But how can we explain the variation in sounds? Given the paddle's dome-shaped design, its middle is the thickest point. Each side of the box underneath the lid is arched with its shortest points at each end and the tallest points in the middle of the call box. When the thickest area of the paddle meets the shortest portions of the sides, the resulting vibrations are minimal, which reproduces a high-pitch sound. By contrast, a lower-pitch sound is produced when the thinnest edge of the paddle meets the tallest area of the sides, producing a greater degree of vibration.

The Nuances Of The Turkey Call

Our list includes devices representing a wide range of styles, shapes, and sounds, from the box and the diaphragm to pot-style calls and back again. What's important here is to recognize your skill level and start with as simple a device as possible before working up to those calls requiring additional experience to master. Learning how to use a turkey call properly may require a similar learning curve to that of a musical instrument. For the die-hard turkey hunter, mastering the turkey call is, itself, an art form.

Learning how to use a turkey call properly may require a similar learning curve to that of a musical instrument.

One of the advantages to the turkey call is its degree of variation. Depending on the environment and circumstances in which you find yourself, call devices are specialized to get the attention of a bird at just the right time. Similar to the way music is played (with cadences, pauses, inflections, and varying volume levels), the call of a live turkey can be just as nuanced. That said, it's important to have the right tools for the job. This may involve investing in several different call devices, some being easier to use than others. But the larger your arsenal, the greater your chances for success.

The road to becoming a successful turkey hunter often starts with trial and error and experimentation with different types of calls to see which ones are the most effective in a given situation. For example, if your style of turkey hunting involves fanning and reaping, this process will require a more aggressive approach of going head to head with a tom, which requires your undivided attention to get the job done. The diaphragm call's hands-free design would be perfect for such a situation.

Furthermore, it's important to get into the mind of a wild turkey in the sense that you're dealing with a social creature with a natural inclination toward variation in its communication. This means the animal won't respond to only one sound and volume indefinitely.

A Brief History Of The Turkey Call

The earliest accounts, journals, and records from 16th and 17th century pioneer settlers indicate the first turkey calls took the form of bone flutes (or turkey wingbones) used by Native Americans. These early tools were operated by forcefully pulling or sucking air through the device to make a sound.

These early tools were operated by forcefully pulling or sucking air through the device to make a sound.

Some of the earliest box-type calls of the late 19th century utilized a small sound chamber with a single raised edge across which a piece of slate or wood was scraped to make the yelp and other calls.

Henry Gibson of Dardenelle, Arkansas is credited with patenting the first turkey box caller with a hinged lid in 1897. Common belief is that the first mouth diaphragm turkey call is attributed to Jim Radcliffe of Andalusia, Alabama who used his observations of a street performer making bird calls to develop the air-operated call device while obtaining treatment for rabies at a New Orleans hospital in the 1920s.

With the popularity of turkey hunting on the rise in the latter part of the 20th century, there was an explosion in the number and types of turkey calls available, both in the commercial market and for customized devices. Today's turkey calls are extremely versatile and fashioned from a variety of materials, including glass, aluminum, and other resilient materials capable of producing the range of unique sounds needed to ensure a successful hunt.

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Taber Koeghan
Last updated on May 27, 2019 by Taber Koeghan

Taber is a writer from Santa Monica, CA, with a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of California, San Diego. After completing her degree, she began writing and editing copy for a host of high-traffic e-commerce websites. Her areas of expertise include the beauty, style, pet, and home products categories, and she has plenty of experience covering literature and art, too. Her personal interests in crafting and decorating inform her writing and -- she hopes -- add a good bit of insight to her work. Outside of copywriting, she is a reporter and columnist at a Los Angeles community newspaper and is currently pursuing a master of fine arts in creative writing.


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