The good and the bad of turkey calling

Last updated on May 11, 23

Posted on May 11, 23

2 min read

A lot of people will tell you that turkey hunting is all about the calling. And most turkey hunters would agree with that too.

The confusion lies in the kind of calling we are referring to.

You see, most folks naturally presume that when you say someone is a good turkey caller you are referring to the way that person can use a box, slate or mouth call to yelp, cluck, purr or otherwise imitate a bird. That is not the case at all.

What we are referring to is the turkey hunters who call us on the phone – for those are the turkey callers that affect us most. In fact, once turkey season starts, you never know what you are going to get when the phone rings.

Sometimes it is a good turkey caller. Sometimes it is a bad turkey caller.

The good callers are easy to identify. They will tell you about accessible spots open to everyone where they are seeing lots of turkeys. They are rooting for your success. They might even invite you to hunt that spot with them. They’ll be encouraging, and say things like, “I haven’t got one yet either, but the best part of the season is still to come.”

They are a pleasure to commiserate with.

A superb turkey caller – and they are rare – will often say something like, “Can I bother you for a bit of advice? I only ask because you are the best turkey hunter I know.”

A bad turkey caller, on the other hand, will only call you and everyone else to brag about the multitude of birds he or she saw and passed up on, or ones they shot. They will play coy about the location – or, if they divulge it, will point out that it is on private property, and they are the only hunter allowed to be on that property. Basically, they are calling you because they’re telling their story to everyone.

A really bad turkey caller will ask you if you have been successful, when they know full well that you haven’t yet been. Then they will provide you with the kind of advice that you would give to someone who is brand new at turkey hunting, just to add insult to injury. It can be painful.

No turkey hunter wants to hear this.

In short, a bad turkey caller makes you glad that you have call display and voicemail.

If you have a network of turkey hunting friends and acquaintances, you will probably eventually experience both. And you will soon learn a little about what makes good and bad calling. And hopefully, this will help you with your turkey calling too.

The goal is for you to become a good turkey caller. That way people will actually pick up the phone and talk to you about turkey hunting.

Of course, it is not easy, and it takes constant practice.

I am not a great caller, but I am constantly trying to improve. Heck, I even have moments of brilliance these days.

For instance, yesterday, I called a turkey hunting friend and he actually picked up the phone.

“Hey. What’s up?” he said.

I replied, “Can I bother you for a bit of advice? I only ask because you are the best turkey hunter I know…”

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Steve Galea

Hunter, angler, outdoors writer, humour columnist -- man of leisure and, formerly, leisure suits. An editor at Ontario Outdoors, he sidelines for The Observer writing humour about the great outdoors.