Turkey Sounds - Vocalizations Of The Wild Turkey

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Turkey Sounds - Vocalizations Of The Wild Turkey

by Matt Wettish


  The cluck is subtle short note done softly with no real cadence.   Often done one or more times in a row, and broken up by a yelp or two.  It's a communication note used by one bird to get the attention of another just to let them know where it is.  It's often a call used in general communication between birds at ease.

Use In The Field:  Using the cluck sparingly while a gobbler approaches with a soft yelp or two can keep a birds interest and keep him moving in your direction.  But, don't overdo it, if a bird is walking towards you, keep quiet and let him keep walking.


Description:  The purr is a soft, almost bubbly sounding call that means the bird is content and relaxed.  Often made by birds while feeding in a group as an "everything is ok" type sound.  This is a call that usually cannot be heard at a distance, but is a great close call up call that can put an approaching gobbler at ease.

Use In The Field:  The purr can be the purr-fect call to get a leery old gobbler to commit those few extra yards.  Use the call when he is just hung up out of gun range, or maybe in  gun range but in thick cover.  Just a purr of two can calm him down enough to make those last few steps you need for a good shot.

Cluck n Purr

Description:  The cluck and purr is just as it sounds, a soft cluck or two followed by the rolling sound of a  purr.  Usually used in slightly more social, or flock type situations  when birds are moving through the woods or feeding together as a group.  A great confidence call that lets other birds know that things are ok.

Use In The Field:  Another great  call to use on a hung up gobbler.  Use it when the bird is just out of site to make him think there is a hen feeding and content right at your location.  This can often times be enough calling to make him commit, and show himself long enough for a good shot.


Description:  The putt is often one or more sharp notes, usually quite a bit louder and more abrupt than a cluck.  It is usually associated with something being not quite right.  Also referred to as an alarm putt, this call is made to alert other birds in the area that there may be something dangerous in the vicinity.  This is definitely not a sound you want to hear while calling in a nice long beard.

Use In The Field:  Unless you want to clear your area of turkeys, this is not a call you would want to make.  The only time it can be useful is when a bird is well within shooting distance and will not come out of strut to give you a good shot.  The alarm putt will often make a gobbler come out of strut and extend his head to see what the danger may be.  This can  give you an excellent shot ... But ... you'd better be ready to shoot.

Tree Call

If your close enought to roosted turkeys, you may be able to hear the quiet tree yelp of a hen.
Photo by: Author
Description:  The tree call is a very quiet sequence of yelping.  They start off extremely quiet and increase in volume as the birds wake up.  Without knowing if there is truly a meaning to this style of call, it generally accepted that it's just a waking up call, and a way to communicate with other birds in the roost.  Yelping will get louder as the birds prepare to fly down for the day.

Use In The Field:  Unless there is competition from other hens, calling to a bird while in the roost isn't always the best idea.  It can hang a bird up waiting to see that hen come in, and when she does not, he may go the other way thinking she's not ready to breed.  Therefore, if you need to call to a roosted bird just to let him know your there, one or two quiet tree yelps can often tweak his interest, and when you don't call any more, it might make him come looking for you.

Fly Down Cackle

Description:  The cackle is usually a fast sequence of cuts.  It could be just a few, or it could be many, but is heard as the bird is leaving or returning to its roosting position in a tree, or flying over obstacles like rivers, streams or ridges.  Birds do not always do this when  flying.  It is usually a call related to some sort of drastic movement such as flight.

Use In The Field:  Using the fly down cackle can work great if you have already heard a gobbler fly down from his roost.  As long as he is not in sight, it's a great way to make him think one of his girlfriends just flew down as well.  This type of call, first thing in the morning, may be enough to make a bird want to investigate.  But make sure he's down first, or he may sit in the roost and wait for you to come to him.

Assembly Call

  The adult hen assembly call is a long series of hen yelps, usually twelve plus long.  This series of yelping is usually done by adult hens looking to regather her poults, or regroup her flock.  It is most often heard during the late spring, summer, and fall seasons.   You will also hear younger birds doing this along with a kee kee run during the fall if they have been separated from the rest of the flock.

Use In The Field:  This call is most effective in the fall.  It's a great call to use once a flock  has been broken up.  Sit at the spot the flock was busted, and after about fifteen minutes or so, start giving an assembly call and see what happens.  You will often times get a response from other birds that want to regroup.

Plain Hen Yelp

The adult hen yelp is one of the most versatile calls a hunter can learn.
Photo by: Author
Description:  The plain yelp of a hen turkey is one of the most common hen sounds we hear in the woods.  Although the cluck and purr are most likely done more often for communication, the yelp is louder and can be heard at a greater distance.  It is also one of the most versatile calls.  It can mean many different things depending on the volume, cadence, and attitude put into the call.  It can be a relaxing call with just a few yelps, or an excited call sped up with a few clucks mixed in.  

Use In The Woods:  The hen yelp is the perfect place to start while hunting gobblers.  You  can go mellow, fast, loud, or soft to see find out the birds mood.  Once you do, you can adjust to fire him up with faster yelps and some cutting, or relax him and make him look for you with a few clucks added in.  It's one of the most versatile vocalizations a hen can make.   But don't start off throwing everything at him, or you'll have nowhere to go but down.  Start at  a medium yelp so you can adjust to his attitude.

Kee Kee 

Description:  The kee kee is a high pitched whistling type sound, usually made by younger turkeys, and is associated with the bird being lost and looking for other birds in the flock.  This call is heard most often in the fall, but can be heard during the spring as well.  Thee kee  kee run is a slight variation of the kee kee.  It will have the same whistle sound, but will be a couple yelps before or after the kee kee.  It still has the same meaning, just a different variation.

Use In The Field:  The kee kee is a great fall call to use when calling back birds after busting a flock.  It can also be used in the spring.  Although used sparingly, birds that get hung up behind thickets and can't find their way through can often kee kee run to get with the others.  This has worked in the past for gobblers that won't pass through a thick area, but when the kee kee is heard, they make that move thinking the hen may leave since she is feeling somewhat lost on the other side.


The gobbling of a mature wild turkey is what drives the turkey hunter to the spring woods year after year.
Photo by: Author
Description:  The gobble is the most recognized vocalization made by a wild turkey.  It is made by the male, and mostly during the spring mating season, although gobbling can occur year round.  It is a loud, deep, rolling, thunderous call used to attract the hen during the spring breeding season, as well as alert other males to his presence and dominance. 

Use In The Field:
  The gobble is usually not used to call turkeys, although in certain situations, it can be used to challenge another gobbler.  This action can often times cause a bird to approach the challenging gobble in attempts of maintaining his breeding area.  But be aware, that if you use such a call, it can also attract other hunters.  So use caution.

Owl Hoot

  The hoot of the Barred Owl is utilized as a locating call for the wild turkey all across the US.  It's most recognized call has a cadence often referred to as "Who-cooks-for-you ... Who-cooks-for-y'all".  It's a great call to use for getting male turkeys to gobble on the roost at dusk or dawn.

Use In The Field:  Using an owl call at first light gives the hunter an opportunity to make a bird gobble without attracting attention to himself.  A gobbler gobbles at an owl call out of reflex.  He is not answering it like he does a hen call.  Therefore he doesn't pay much attention to it.  This allows a hunter to move in closer to the roost without drawing the birds attention, and hopefully remain undetected.

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