Can you identify the different Wild Turkey sounds, turkey use to communicate with? Do you know what they mean or what the turkey is saying? Have you heard them talking to keep the flock together or the call they use to locate a mate? What about when they are gathering poults?
In the spring, Toms will gobble to announce their intentions to the hens and other gobblers. Their gobble sound can carry up to a mile away.
Toms will also produced a drum sound by the movement of air in the air sack in the chest. If you hear this sound it means you are very close to him.
Gobblers will also "spit", which is a sharp expulsion of air from this air sack.
Hens "yelp" to let gobblers know their location.
Longbeards will often "yelp" as hens do, but their sound is a little deeper in tone.
Jakes (or young toms) will "yelp" and "gobble", but there is always a dominate Tom around. The dominate Tom will only allow the subordinate Tom to either strut or gobble, but not both.
To reproduce these different vocalizations, there are various types of turkey calls available today. A good hunter will learn to use several of these calls. You never know which call a wild turkey will respond to, on any given day.
Different calls have different tones and what may work for one wild turkey, may not work for the another.
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The cluck is a one note call or a series of 2-3 single notes strung together to communicate within the flock, or get the attention of another bird close by. It's a good call to let a gobbler know that there is a hen in proximity.
The putt is a sharp 1 note alarm that the birds use to alert other wild turkey of impending danger. In the east, I have heard birds do 1 sharp putt for alarming others and in the west I have bumped hens that will walk away doing one putt after another usually not as sharp but conveying the same message. It all may depend on the hunting pressure in the area.
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The tree call is another call among the turkey sounds. It is a series of soft yelps a bird will use to let others know she is awake and getting ready for fly down. Sometimes these sounds, accompanied by a soft cluck or two,may get a little louder as daylight hits.
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The yelp is the most versatile call that a turkey uses. It is a series of single notes that can be from 2-4 to as many as 9 notes strung together. These sounds are used to communicate to other birds for location; these are good wild turkey sounds to use in the spring to locate gobblers and hens. I have heard birds yelp within the flock also but usually it's a shorter 2-4 note communication.
Adult hens or "boss hens" will use the lost-yelp sounds to locate and gather her flock or young and these yelps are generally louder.
Another call among the wild turkey sounds includes the cutt. A loud fast call of short excited notes a hen will use for locating another bird that may be close. Sometimes these wild turkey sounds are used to scold another bird who has wandered from the flock or to declare dominance.
The boss hen will usually use this call to keep the flock from wandering too far away or to tell another wild bird to come to her. I have copied dominate hen sounds in the spring and fall and they can get pretty feisty when they think you are challenging their dominance. These are good wild turkey sounds to use in the spring on stubborn toms who have hens with them, call in the hen and the tom may follow.
The cackle sounds are mostly used when a bird is getting ready or has started to fly. As they fly down off the roost , over water or off a ridge, the cackle lets others know that they are moving. Generally speaking – it is a movement call they will use. This is a series of 4-9 sharp irregular notes.
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Young wild turkey generally use the kee-kee sounds as a signal that they are lost from the flock, although adults will use a variation of this sound sometimes. This call seems to be used more in the fall than in the spring because hens are mating and nesting in the spring. The wild turkey flocks won't generally get back together till the poults are able to join. The kee-kee is a high pitched call consisting of 3-7 notes.
The kee-kee-run is a kee-kee with a yelp on the end, usually 3-4 kee-kees with 2-5 yelps.
The purr are very soft rolling sounds the wild turkey makes when they are feeding, or when the hen finds a gobbler of her liking. These wild turkey sounds can also be accompanied with a soft cluck, or a very soft putt. It is a call associated with contentment and well-being.
The gobble sound is primarily used in the spring of the year for locating hens and showing dominance during the mating season. Although I have heard toms gobble year around its most prevalent in the spring. Toms will gobble and strut to show off their wares for the ladies. Toms can be solitary or travel with other toms but only one will be dominate if there are 2 or more together.
The gobblers' gobble
Even the owl hoot is included in the wild turkey sounds. The owl hoot is a locator call used in the spring to get toms to gobble. Toms will "shock gobble" to most loud noises but the owl hoot or crow call are the most natural. The bard owl hoot is an eight note call that can be mastered by using your own mouth or purchase one at your local sporting goods store. When I learned this call my dad told me the owl was simply saying "who cooks for you, who cooks for ya-all" ( ...an easy way to remember the eight notes).
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We'd like to hear about your wild turkey sounds, strategies and tips on calling in your birds.
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Wild turkey sounds from the field
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