Fortunately, the language of turkeys isn’t that hard to learn. There are no complex grammatical rules and vocabulary, just a few sounds that each have a meaning.
With that being said, learning how turkeys communicate isn’t easy. The ability to distinguish between different sounds determines whether or not your hunt will be successful.
Now, let’s examine 8 common turkey sounds along with their meaning.
The yelp is one of the most, if not the most heard sound from turkeys. When a turkey yelps, it makes a series of notes – usually in a sequence from three to eight – the purpose of which is to alert other turkeys of its location and beckon them to join in.
The yelp is used by both male and female turkeys. However, hens use this call specifically to look for a gobble. Due to this, learning to imitate the yelp can be very helpful in luring a hen to your location. If you manage to fire the hen up enough, she may come to investigate even if she already had found a gobbler. And the gobbler may even himself join the “party”!
The gobble is one of the principal vocalizations of a male turkey. It is used by gobbles to indicate that they want a hen. In addition, it used to deter other gobblers.
The ability to imitate a gobble can be a very useful tool in your arsenal. In the breeding season, it could be used to attract hens to your position.
However, gobbling is a double-edged sword. First off, it can attract a dominate gobble looking for a fight. Conversely, it can scare away less dominant birds who want to avoid fighting. And lastly, the gobble can attract other hunters to your position, which you definitely don’t want.
The putt consists of a single or several sharp sounds. It is used by turkeys to signal a nearby danger. If you alert the turkey of your presence, it will start putting, warning other turkeys of the threat. Generally, if you’ve caused a turkey to putt, it means that the hunting is failed.
Learning to imitate the putt can be really beneficial in hunting. It can be useful when you want a turkey to raise its head or stop for you to get a clear shot. However, once you raise the alarm by putting, you will have only a little time to take the shot. Thereby, pre-aiming is a good idea.
The cluck is also used by both gobblers and hens. It is usually used by one turkey to get the attention of another. Hens use it to encourage a gobbler to approach, especially when he is hanging up. In addition, hens cluck in conjunction with feeding or moving around the area.
This sound is a bit simpler with gobblers: they use it just to indicate their location.
The cluck sounds very similar to a putt, so it is pretty easy to confuse them for an untrained ear. The cluck is slightly longer and a less excited sound.
Since the cluck and putt have completely different meanings, distinguishing between one or the other means coming home either empty-handed or with a turkey.
Cutting basically is a combination of rapid and loud clucks mixed with yelping. This sound indicates that the turkey is excited.
Cutting is used by hens when they are fired up. If the gobbler has gone silent, cutting can help the hen get a response out of him. In addition, it is used by hens agitated with each other. If you are hearing a lot of cutting in the woods, then you are likely near the peak levels of the breeding season.
Needless to say, imitating cutting can be a very powerful tool for attracting both hens and gobblers. If one gobbler is henned up and a hen is cutting, you could mimic her calls with slightly higher excitement and vocalization to lure her to you for a fight. In addition, you may be able to attract the gobbler with the cutting.
The purr is a soft sound that turkeys make when content. It is very often made by feeding birds. In addition, it is used by turkeys to maintain contact with each other.
Gobblers also use the purr as a sign of aggression, often when they spot another gobbler invading their territory. You could set up a decoy in a gobbler’s territory to lure him towards you. And imitating a purr, you could get the gobbler all excited to attack the decoy, thus exposing himself for a shot.
The cackle is usually used by turkeys – mostly hens – when they leave the roost and fly down towards the ground.
This call usually starts with a yelp, which indicates a turkey’s location. Once the turkey is ready to leave the roost, it cackles. It starts out as a series of quick clucks and cuts. As the turkey lands on the ground, the cadence slows down and often turns into yelps.
If you hear the cackle, then you most likely got up early enough for a morning hunt. Imitating the cackle could allow you to lure a gobbler right into your line of shooting.
The kee-kee run is used by young turkeys who got separated from their flock. Young turkeys use this call to indicate that they are lost and want to be found.
The kee-kee run can be used in a variety of hunting strategies. For example, you could scare off and separate a flock of turkeys and then use the kee-kee run to lure more mature turkeys to your location.
In addition, opting for a kee-kee run is a good idea on public hunting grounds where other hunters are likely to use the more regular yelps and cuts. The kee-kee run would greatly help you draw attention towards you.
Hi, I am Morgan. I run RangeFindersAll.com where I talk about rangefinders (you kind of guessed that, right) and how it can be used for purposes related to hunting and sports. Feel free to reach out to me for anything related to rangefinders and I will be happy to help.