The Truth Behind High Frquency Calls

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The Truth Behind High Frquency Calls

by Phil Salzano

 Have you ever wondered why sometimes that old longbeard will gobble at one call and not another? How many times have you been sitting in the woods calling to a bird that knows you're there, only to get no response?  So you decide to try a different call and you finally get a response.   The answer why, may be as simple as the frequency or pitch of the call your using.

The author likes to use a very high pitched and loud call to cut the wind and strike gobbles at a distance.
Photo by: Author
A few years ago there was an introduction of higher frequency calls to the market. This was no coincidence. During the mid to late 1990’s a few turkey biologists were beginning to understand more about the wild turkeys hearing. Testing revealed that calls within the 12,000 Hz to15,000 Hz ranges received better responses from the turkeys.  Biologist also found that calls within this range are heard much better by the turkeys at distance.

A spectrogram is the instrument that turkey biologists used to measure the Hz of  wild hen turkey calls. Amazingly enough they found that the hen turkey can reach notes up in the 15,000 Hz range.  These notes were the found mostly when the hen was “cutting” (short sharp erratic staccato notes, a common call heard during the breeding season) and was very excited.  With these findings they decided to continue testing

Not satisfied with the first round of high frequency testing, in 1996 turkey biologists brought the testing to the field.  They used calls in the 5,000 Hz,    10,000 Hz and 15,000 Hz ranges.  Each of the calls were regulated to the identical decibel output and found that the turkeys responded well whether calling at near and far distances.  However they did note that the turkeys responded better to the higher frequency calls and once they responded to the higher frequency, they would not respond to the lower frequency call again.  Once they heard the high frequency calling that is all they wanted to hear.  

The field testing was carried out over 270 times while getting over 90 different responses.  The turkey biologists were able to calculate that 39% of the birds responded to the calls in the 5,000 Hz range, a little more than 45% responded to the calling in the 10,000 Hz range, and an astounding 88% answered the call in the 15,000 Hz range.

Shortly after biologists reached their conclusions about the wild turkeys responding to the higher frequency sounds, everyone I know, including myself,  stuffed a couple of these calls into our vests! These calls are high pitched locator calls such as crow calls, hawk calls, and even one call that represented a peacock.  The turkey calls that create the highest frequencies are the pot and peg style calls. The calling surface is usually made of aluminum, glass or some other man made surface.  Couple these type calls with a graphite, plastic, or acrylic strikers and you not only will be able to achieve the higher pitched calls, you will also be able to run these combinations in the wet weather.

Some of the calls I prefer are the Quaker Boy Aluminator, and my new favorite, the Triple Threat.  The Triple threat has three different calling surfaces, slate, aluminum, and plexi.  With this one call with I now have surfaces in all three Hz ranges.  Matched with some different strikers and I’m ready to hit the woods running.  For locators I like to use Quaker Boy Crankin’ Crow, and the Hawk Scream.  Both are very high pitched and loud, perfectly designed to get inside that gobbler’s head.

Before you hit the spring turkey woods this year stuff a high frequency turkey call and locator call in your vest to better your chances of getting that tight lipped tom to gobble. Hunt safe, hunt hard, and take a child hunting so that he or she can enjoy the outdoors and carry on our way of life.
Please support the National Wild Turkey Federation.  

The author is a member of the following Pro Staffs,, Quaker Boy Game Calls, and Ol’ Tom Technical Turkey Gear

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