By Bob Humphrey
According to researchers, the wild turkey’s vocabulary consists of at least 30 distinct calls. Fortunately, you only need to be able to mimic a half-dozen or so to hunt them effectively. Probably the most familiar, and easiest to imitate is the “yelp,” and there are several variations.
The “plain yelp” is a two-note kee-yawk sound. A typical rendition consists of repeating the two-note yelp five to seven times.
The “tree yelp” is a muted, one-note version, usually repeated only three or four times. This is a sound turkeys sometimes make while they’re stirring on the roost, before fly-down.
The second basic, single-note call is the “cluck.” It is a short, sharp note that sounds like its name. Stringing together multiple, more excited clucks in rapid succession is called “cutting.” This call may signal excitement or aggression.
The “cackle” is a combination of excited cutts and yelps, most often used as a turkey is flying down from the roost.
The third basic vocalization is the “purr,” which also sounds like its name. It can be combined with a cluck, to produce the “cluck and purr.” When used more aggressively, it becomes the “fighting purr” or “rattle,” a sound made by fighting males that, like rattling in bucks, may attract curious male turkeys.
By imitating one or more of these calls, you can lure a spring gobbler into gun range — sometimes. It also helps if he’s in the mood, and more importantly, if you’re in the right place.