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Turkey Hunting Articles

Fall Turkey Calling Techniques

by T.R. Michels


When you call turkeys in the fall it's helpful to understand the differences between spring and fall calls. Since the birds most likely to respond to calling in the fall are the young, you should use the calls of the hen and her young. In the spring the poults signal to the hen that they are lost by using the three note Lost Whistle; a high pitched peep, peep, peep. As the turkey poults grow their voices change, and the Lost Whistle they used in the spring becomes the Kee-Kee, which is the juvenile version of the "Here I am. Where are you?" or Lost Yelp, of the adult birds. This call should probably be re-named the Kee-Kee-Kee. Sonogram recordings of the Kee-Kee show that it usually consists of three (not two) unevenly spaced .10-.15 second notes, performed in one second. The first note is short and not as high pitched as the last two notes, and the call generally rises in pitch.


The juveniles also use the Kee-Kee Run in the fall. The Kee-Kee Run starts out like the Kee-Kee, usually with two to four "kee" notes, with five to seven yelps added. The entire call is performed in about two seconds; kee-kee-kee, yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp. When the birds use this call they are saying, "I'm over here. Where Are You?" Both the Kee-Kee and the Kee-Kee Run are used by the juveniles as they try to get back together after they have been scattered.
The Lost Yelp is the lost call of an adult bird. It may have as many as six to twenty or more evenly spaced notes, with three to four notes per second. The call gets progressively louder with each note and is often quite raspy. This raspiness occurs because the bird's voice breaks as it tries to make the call as loud as possible. It may be used by jakes, toms and hens to get back together.

The Assembly Yelp is used by the hen to let the young know where she is, so they can get back together. This call usually consists of six to ten or more evenly spaced yelps, with each note from .10 to .20 seconds in length. Because juveniles know their mother's voice, which you probably can't duplicate, this call is often ineffective in the fall.

Turkeys often use a Plain Cluck as they respond to another bird's calling. They also use the Plain Cluck as they approach another bird while trying to locate it by sight. The Plain Cluck is a short call, usually consisting of one to three notes per second, with each note about .04 second in length. Remember, when the bird is performing this call it is trying to attract the attention of the other bird, it is loud.

The Fast Cutt or Cutting is a series of fast clucks, but louder and more insistent than the Plain Cluck. The Fast Cutt usually consists of four to ten notes, with from three to six notes per second, and each note being .04 seconds in length (as short as you can blow). It starts out with one short note per second, and increases in loudness and speed to five to six notes per second. This call is performed by a bird that is telling another that if they are going to get together, the other bird has to do the walking. Roughly translated, "I'm not going there, you come here."

Because many of the birds you call to in the fall are young, they respond best to the three versions of the lost call; the Kee-Kee, the Kee-Kee Run and the Lost Yelp, especially after they have been scattered. Obviously the soft putts, purrs and whines of a feeding flock can arouse the interest of the birds during the fall. Much of this interest is caused by curiosity about who the other birds are, and why they are there. You can also use the sounds of a fight to attract turkeys (Fighting Purr, wing flapping). Anytime there is a fight almost every bird within hearing will come running, because there may be a shift in social structure of the flock, and the birds will want to take advantage of a chance to enhance their own social status if a dominant bird is beaten in a fight.
Along with good calling you need a good stand site, which offers a clear field of view and shooting lanes. If you can see the birds you have a chance of seeing how they react to your calls, so you can make adjustments to calls that work. The use of decoys in any situation is a definite asset. If the birds not only hear, but see another bird, it helps instill confidence and enhances the curiosity factor.



About the Author:

T. R. Michels is nationally recognized for his action-packed, informative seminars based on his experience as a wildlife researcher and professional guide.

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