Turkey hunting is a sport that has been on the rise. Even around my stomping grounds, where wild turkeys are seen frequently on highways and back roads, turkey hunting is almost as popular as whitetail hunting. One of the most important things in a turkey hunter’s arsenal is the best turkey call for the right situation. Since the rise in popularity the market has been flooded with all different brands, calls, prices, and functions. Novice turkey hunters should be aware of what works and what doesn’t. Here I will lay out a few important things to keep in mind if you are looking for the best turkey call for beginners.
What To Look For
Ease Of Use
Beginners need to be concerned with ease of use, in fact it could be the most important aspect. Some calls, like the diaphragm calls, take lots of practice, and are not the best choice for beginners. Although when used right, it has the most diverse range of calls.
There are quite a few different kinds of turkey calls on the market, including; the long box call, slate call, diaphragm calls, and push-button calls. To determine which one is best, I recommend trying a few different ones to find the one that fits your specific needs, and abilities.
Turkeys that live in different areas might react differently to higher and lower tones, so I always suggest talking to local hunters. This is usually a great idea, if they are willing to share a few secrets. Beginners will want a call that is easy to use, but make sure that ease of use doesn’t mean sacrificing quality sounds.
The pitch of a turkey call can, and often times is different even among the same style and brand. Each call is unique. A beginner wants to find a call that covers the widest range of calls and pitches. Eventually, most turkey hunters rely on several calls, but before you go, and have to explain to the wife why you spent two-hundred dollars on turkey calls, try to find the one that covers many calls first. Over time you will build up your arsenal.
Raspiness refers to the vibration you can hear in the lower tones of the call. This is an important part of the call to make it sound realistic. Some calls just don’t have that low tone that is so important to calling in the turkeys. Most seasoned hunters will say that learning to make your calls realistic is the key to success. Mixing cuts with yelps, or cutting with a yelp then a gobble. Listen to real turkeys to get it down. It is worth the time and effort.
Learning how to control the loudness is another aspect of sound that many novice hunters overlook. Having a call that reaches a ways out from where you are is good. Just remember that as the turkey move in closer, the sound of your call needs to be adjusted so as not to spook the turkey.
Different turkey calls require different movements, and techniques. A long box call is great for beginners because it is easier to master than some of the other ones. It also requires quite a bit of movement to achieve those sounds.
One of the hardest parts of turkey hunting is getting close enough to get a shot off. They have great eyesight, which makes calls that require more physical movement harder to pull off as they get closer. Take the long box mentioned above. It requires movement from your hands to make any sound at all. Unless you can hide your movements from close-range turkeys, this call is best used to call them in from a distance.
Another thing to consider with any call that requires your hands is that if your hands are being used to call, they will eventually have to switch to the gun. This also requires movement. While a novice hunter might not think it to be very much movement, a seasoned hunter will tell you that turkeys are very easily startled. Once they sense danger, or some kind of presence, they are gone. Turkeys move through brush by putting their heads down and running underneath the thick branches, which means when they are gone you are not going to get another chance.
The 4 Best Turkey Calls For Beginners
As I have shown, there are many factors in picking the right turkey call for a beginner. These include: brand, style, tone, rasp, amount of movement, and ease of use, among other things. The truth is that there is no magical equation to picking the right turkey call, because it is different for everyone. The calls I have picked for beginners are based on my own preference, and the preference of people I know who have hunted turkey for many years. The one thing we all agree on is to try before you buy to make sure you can mimic those real life turkey sounds. They will not come in if they suspect any trickery. Keeping all this in mind I present some calls I find to be some of the best turkey calls for beginners.
Primos Wet Box Friction
Primos has been making turkey calls for a very long time, and is one of the most trusted brands in the field. This particular call makes sounds by opening and closing the top. The wood rubs against each other to create the sounds of turkeys.
The reason it is called a wet box is because it can be used wet or dry. This makes this particular call water-proof, which is very important to some areas that people hunt. I live in an area where the fall and spring are the wettest times of the year. This almost requires a water-proof call.
Box calls are some of the easiest calls to use. Beginners will be out in the field within a day or two of practicing. It needs no chalk to use, just scuff up the mating surfaces with a Brillo pad, and you will be calling them to you in no time.
- One of the most trusted brands in turkey calls
- Easy to use. Most novices learn within a day or two
- It is waterproof
- Works wet or dry
- Good for chirps, clucks, purrs, and gobbles
- No chalk needed. Order the box and you are ready to go
- The finish that creates the sound eventually wears off
- Once finish is gone cannot use
- When transporting it makes noise in pocket
- Need rubber band to produce gobbles
- Price is a little high
Knight & Hale Dual Threat Glass & Slate Turkey Pot Call
This double sided slate and glass pot call is a great choice for the novice hunter. Coming with both glass and slate, it hosts a wide range of calls that is hard to find anywhere else. Combine that with the minimal practice required to use it, and it stands out.
The fact that you get two different surfaces is a great thing for the novice. It is almost like buying two different calls, but saving a little money when doing it. The price is also nice for what you get. The glass side is great for higher tones, allowing you to call in those far off turkeys. When they come in close, just flip it over to the slate side for mellow, rich calls.
Comes with the diamond wood striker to give you the realistic sounds needed to call in those wary hens and toms. The double sided design allows for minimal movement when switching from glass to slate or vice-versa.
- Includes glass and slate double sided pot
- Easily produces a wide range of sounds
- One call for long range and short range
- Diamond wood striker
- Realistic sounds
- Very easy to use, with minimal practice required
- Slate calls are known to produce the widest range of calls next to diaphragm calls
- Resonator inside hollow handle to make it even easier to produce those realistic sounds
- More hardware to carry
- Sanding paper is needed for slate
- Movement is needed to go between the call and the hunter’s weapon
Primos The Gobbler Shaker Call
Made by one of the most trusted names in turkey calls and hunting; Primos. The price is very pleasing for the quality. This call is designed for locating and challenging gobblers. Easy to use, and made with high quality, lasting polymer rubber. This call will withstand all weather situations.
Use either one-handed operation for jake gobbling, or two-handed operation for adult gobbling. Comes with a patented silencer cap for those unwanted sounds that might scare your next kill. This small device will surprise you with its range and reach.
One of the easiest calls to use. I have seen six-year-old’s use this shaker, and call them in. Great for the novice or experienced hunter. It was made with the thought that anyone should be able to call in a turkey. This fulfills that wish.
- Made with very durable polymer rubber
- Easiest call to use, hands down
- Patented silencer cap
- one-handed or two-handed operation for different sounds
- Very effective in mid to late turkey season
- Nice range for larger hunting spreads
- Fits any price range
- Limited amount of calls
- Use requires substantial movement
- Not as effective during the spring hunt
- Not as effective in close-range calling
Hunters Specialties H.S. Strut Push Button Yelper Turkey Call
Great push-button box for close range purrs, and clucks. The natural walnut finish gives it a great look. The natural walnut also keeps the tones as natural as possible, making those hard to call turkeys a bit more comfortable coming in.
The push-button design is great for both beginners, and the seasoned expert. With the push-button design, you can call at close range without as much movement as, say, the traditional long-box. Only takes one hand to operate, which can be the difference between bagging a turkey or going home empty.
The price is right for this call, too. A little more expensive than the Primos Gobbler Shaker call, it is easy to add this little call to your arsenal. This really works great for the novice when close-range hunting, when movement needs to be minimal.
- Great for close range calls
- Very easy to use, minimal practice
- Natural tones created from walnut construction
- Fingertip control keeps movement to a minimum
- One-handed use keeps another hand free
- It mimics cuts, yelps, and purrs just by changing motion of rod
- Sounds are not as realistic as slate, or even other traditional box calls
- Yelps are rather soft, unless manipulated by using second hand
- No way to create realistic cutter sounds
- Not waterproof
Your First Turkey Call Should Be….
Well, these are all great for a beginner in turkey calling. One call that I did not even mention is the diaphragm turkey calls. The reason is for their inherent difficulty, and amount of practice it takes to use them effectively. Keep in mind, though, most expert turkey hunters prefer diaphragm calls for two reasons. First, they produce the widest range of tones and raspiness. Most hunters have several for different situations. Second, and this is a big one, it can stay in your mouth while your hands are free to aim, shoot, or any other number of things a hunter needs their hands for.
While you can start out on these, I would recommend practicing to get it down. Until you get the diaphragm call down, the first call I would choose is the Knight & Hale Dual Threat Glass & Slate Turkey Pot Call.
I chose this one because of a combination of things. It is easy to learn, it produces the largest variety of calls, the most realistic calls, and with a double-sided pot that has glass and slate it is great for long-range and short-range calls. It also requires little movement to switch or use. So, if this is your first turkey hunting season, I would go out with the Dual Threat by Knight & Hale.