The ultimate success factor to turkey hunting is proper call selection. Of course, their proper use is assumed. This selection or narrowing process should be done well ahead of the opening week of the spring turkey season. Some turkey hunters believe in the adage that there is no such thing as having too many calls in the daypack. Other seasoned turkey hunters have learned to settle on just a select few calls to get the job done.


Too many calls

"It's really easy to take along far too many calls on a given turkey hunt," says veteran turkey call maker and hunter Preston Pittman. "When I lay out my own selection, I can easily see how other hunters could be confused on what to take.

"Of course, I make a lot of different calls for different turkey hunting scenarios, but that doesn't automatically imply you need to have every one of them in your pocket all the time.

"I try to plan out my hunting day in terms of the situations I might encounter. If it is misting rain, I will carry a call that will stay dry. If it is windy, then I will likely take a loud call, most likely a box call. Early in the season, gobblers will still be with lots of hens usually, so I take along calls that are especially seductive, most often a couple different mouth calls I can trade out."

Pittman takes out two or three calls at a time. He is a master at mouth calling, so he always has several of those.

My use of diaphragm calls is limited, so I only take a couple. Like Pittman, I also carry at least two friction calls, a slate and a box call. Pittman will use a friction call sometimes that is double-sided so it maximizes his options. I like the box because it is loud and bucks a good breeze.


Too few calls

"Turkey hunters have to know they can easily short change themselves just as well by constantly relying upon just one or two calls," Pittman said. "Especially if they hunt the same area on any consistent basis, those gobblers are likely going to catalog those calls and shy away from returning a gobble.

"You might fool a 2-year-old rookie but not a serious longbeard.

"It is a common practice I see when I hunt with various camps and groups that a hunter will use the same call again and again because he is convinced it is a deadly call. Well, it may be, but he may also be missing out on some other gobblers by playing the same calls all the time. Every hunter should throw a curve out there every once in a while.

"If you commonly use just a couple calls no matter what they are, this season add a new one. If you don't feel confident using a mouth call, then start practicing now. You can never know your success with a new call or technique if you never try it. Buy a metal pot call and try that. Work on the calls until you like the sound or everybody in the house is sick of hearing them.

"And don't forget to run the full range of calls on every type of call you use. Work on the easier yelps and clucks, but try purring, putting and stringing together aggressive call sequences going from loud to just barely audible. Learning the really low-sounding calls can be the ultimate gobbler killer. These calls can close the last 20 yards and seal the deal."


The final choice

Before you make your final call selections, ask yourself how you are likely to hunt. Will you hunt an open pasture waiting for turkeys to come in from the woods to feed? How about slipping into the thick of the woods close to a roost area? Maybe you'll run and gun based on the daybreak gobbling action or following a gobbler with his harem of hens? Then pick your call selection accordingly.

The best bet is to pick at least three to four calls to address the least common denominators of all the hunting scenarios you might encounter. Pittman carries more mouth calls than anything because he is an expert in their use, but his turkey call bag always has a friction call and usually some model of wooden box call. He may not use them all every time he hunts, but he has them at the ready.