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Turkey hunters use a turkey call.
Field Guide -Turkey

What Should Be Your First Turkey Call? Our Expert Insights

One of the most essential things in a turkey hunter's arsenal is the best turkey call for the right situation. Turkey hunters use calls to mimic various hen sounds like purrs, yelps, and clucks to convince a male turkey to come into range for the shot, whether hunting with a bow or shotgun.

However, because there are so many calls to choose from, it can be challenging for new hunters to determine which turkey call is best for getting started. 

Even though hunters can find an expansive amount of information about turkey calls and calling tactics on YouTube and elsewhere, it's best to keep turkey calls simple by sticking to a few basic calls. Learning how to use turkey calls and the right time to use them takes practice. 

With a little time and effort, calling turkeys isn't as complicated as some people would like you to believe. Since their rise in popularity, the market has been flooded with different brands, calls, prices, and functions. 

So, how can you know which one is the best option for your first turkey call? Keep reading for our insights into the first call to add to your gear and what should come next after you've mastered your first call.

What Turkey Call Should I Learn to Use First?

Most experts consider a turkey box call the best one for a beginning turkey hunter. In many cases, experienced turkey hunters probably started with a box call for their first hunts. So, it's a solid recommendation to learn with a box call as a newcomer to turkey hunting. 

A favorite for amateur and veteran hunters, the box call is valuable due to its ability to call at a high volume, which hunters find helpful on windy days. Additionally, box calls are some of the easiest calls to use and don't require any chalk. However, not all box calls are the same. 

Some are three separate pieces of wood, while others will be one hollowed-out piece. The lid to a box call is also typically a solid piece of wood. When a hunter strikes the lid surface against the side surface, it creates sound. 

To use a turkey box call, keep the lid in contact with the sides. Raising the top off the side area will make "squeak" sounds and take away the rhythm of the calling.

Turkey hunters using turkey calls in the field.

Once You've Mastered The Box Call, Try a Pot Call

After you've learned the basics of calling on a box call and feel comfortable, we recommend a pot call next. These calls are incredibly versatile and give you the greatest range of sounds with a short amount of learning time. 

A pot call is sometimes called a slate call because the surface is made of slate. Most pot calls include a shallow, circular wooden pot holding a round disc. Using a striker about the same diameter as a pencil, you'll scratch or rub the disc to make a variety of hen sounds. 

Callers can make just about any hen noise sound like the real thing by changing the pressure and pattern of the striker on the pot call. As you practice and get better with the call, you'll learn to easily mimic more than one hen talking with different noises. 

Different gobblers will often react better to a specific tone, and it's easy to make adjustments with a pot call. However, be aware that it does require some movement to use a pot call effectively. Make sure you're able to hide your movements in your lap or behind a blind so turkeys don't see you using the call.

Close-up of a turkey diaphragm call.

Should You Try a Diaphragm Turkey Call?

Diaphragm calls (or mouth calls) include a pliable reed (or diaphragm) enclosed in a small plastic frame. Callers place the call inside their mouth and force air over a thin reed to mimic many hen turkey vocalizations. 

Unlike a pot call, diaphragm calls don't require movement that could give away your position to a wary gobbler. 

Turkey callers often prefer diaphragm calls because it's possible to make a wider range of realistic hen sounds with different tones and volumes. However, they're also one of the more difficult calls to master and require significant practice. 

If you're ready to up your calling game, consider using a diaphragm call with your box or pot call to make a variety of turkey noises. 

Gear Up With the Right Call and the HuntWise App

Learning how to call turkeys is a task that takes considerable time, patience, and effort. Using these types of calls in the order we mentioned above and spending plenty of time practicing your calls will help you master each call and ultimately harvest more turkeys this season. 

Along with your calls, don't forget to use the HuntWise app! To get the most out of your calls and time in the field, use HuntWise to find the best plots of land with plenty of turkeys to hunt! The right calls can help you get your first turkey, but you also need the right tool in the field to help you find the best places to call in your first gobbler.

 HuntWise is free to download and try! Use the maps and pins to see properties from a bird's eye view, then set up and call them in. 


Content updated January 29, 2024.

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