Turkey Hunting: The Gift of Gab

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As a boy, I fondly remember my dad’s stories of the first mouth diaphragm he bought in the early 1970’s.  The call was a Ben Lee single reed, and featured the thick copper frame that was customary in that day.  He used that call to help pay for his tuition at Mississippi State University by guiding at west Alabama’s famed Westervelt Lodge in the mornings before class, but admitted that even though he learned how to use the call well, it was not nearly as realistic as the calls we have today.

Today’s mouth call market features a seemingly endless array of options, with calls featuring different cuts, numbers of reeds, and latex combinations.  The calls we have available today are all capable of producing the highest level of realism when paired with an experienced caller, and some of the competition callers sound better than the real thing.  Unlike their predecessors, the calls we use these days are typically very consistent, allowing a hunter to purchase a call from season to season that will sound similar to the one they wore out the year before.

Mouth calls are difficult to master, but once a hunter becomes proficient in using them and producing the entire hen vocabulary, they can give the hunter an edge in the spring woods.  Their hands free use is crucial when turkeys are in “the red zone” and a soft yelp or cluck is needed to close the deal.  You can bet that the majority of the seasoned veterans of the spring woods have a mouth call in their arsenal when they break daylight.

Vocabulary Tests

Billy Yargus of Ewing, Missouri is one hunter who experienced a renaissance as a result of the mouth call.  Yargus, who won the Senior Division of the Wild Turkey Bourbon Grand National Calling Championship in 2008 as well as several other major calling titles, said he hunted turkeys for almost twenty years before entering his first calling contest.  At one of his first calling contests, he was amazed at how the legendary Walter Parrott was able to replicate the entire vocabulary of the wild turkey.

“When I first went to calling contests, the people yelping on mouth calls sounded like people yelping on mouth calls, not like turkeys.  When I heard Walter, I could not believe the realism he was able to emit from his calling.  That really sparked me to become a better caller, but really more so to be effective in the woods versus on the stage,” recalls Yargus, a Mossy Oak and MAD Calls Pro-Staffer. 

One reason competition callers are successful in the woods, according to Yargus, is because they are required to reproduce the entire vocabulary of the wild turkey as part of their calling sequences.  “When I step in to the woods, I know that I can produce any call necessary for the situation at hand, whether it is a soft tree yelp, mid-range yelping, loud cutting, or a kee-kee run.  Every turkey is different, so you have to be able to produce the entire vocabulary in order to give them what they want on that given day.  For me personally, a cutter-style mouth call allows me to do this.”
Variable Volume

Josh Grossenbacher serves as Zink Calls’ Turkey Products Manager, in addition to being one of the top up-and-comers on the competitive calling circuit.  Grossenbacher feels the main advantage a competition caller has in the spring woods is volume control.  “When you are a competition caller that uses the mouth call, you are forced to learn how to call soft.  We have to be proficient in tree yelps and cluck and purrs, and if those calls are not whisper quiet, they will not score well.”

“Most mouth callers can call loud, but few can bring the volume down to a whisper,” said the Ohio native.  “This is where I think competition callers excel in the spring woods; they are able to call soft when that turkey is in that critical ‘eighty yards and in’ range.  This is the part of the game where the gobbler is looking for the hen, and when you can call soft, the turkey has a hard time coursing you, forcing him to come a little closer.”

When Grossenbacher hits the spring woods, he relies mainly on a 3-reed combo cut call.  “I like that style of call because it can really do it all.  I have a tremendous amount of confidence in its ability to perform in the woods no matter what the situation.  I will also carry a heavier-reed call for locating.  Sometimes you need a little more volume when you are cutting and running than a lighter-reed, do-it all call can produce.”

For more information on MAD Calls, visit www.madgamecalls.com

For more information on Zink Calls, visit www.zinkcalls.com
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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