Turkey hunting is one of the most addictive genres of hunting North America has to offer. Once you've heard the sound of a gobbler in full strut and you've seen a display of feathers in the foreground of budding spring foliage, there's simply no turning back. Turkey hunters invest a ton of money and time into attempting to bag a bird every year, so it's important that the gear they purchase delivers when everything finally comes together. And, there is no piece of equipment that has more sway on the success rate of a turkey hunt than a call.
Having the right turkey call comes down to knowing what to look for, and the willingness to spend the money on the right one. The following list of turkey calls are what I consider to be the best calls on the market. A few of them are available at any major sporting goods store, but most of these have to be purchased online. By no means do you have to have them all, but at least one should get some serious consideration before you head out to your turkey blind this year.
1. The Strut Buster
First on the list is a pot call--or a slate call, depending on who introduced you to turkey hunting--which means it's as versatile as it is easy to learn.
These calls are handmade by Steve Reeves, owner of Supreme Turkey Calls. Many turkey hunters consider Reeves the Michelangelo of turkey calls. One of Supreme Turkey Calls top sellers year after year, the Strut Buster features a Purpleheart body with a crystal playing surface and slate on the back. It produces an unmistakably high-pitched, raspy sound, which has led Reeves to keeping this body style in his lineup since 1998. Each call comes with two strikers, and you can find it here for $125.
2. Wicked Series Friction Call
Next down the line is another pot call, this time coming from Zink Calls. What makes these calls truly unique is at the core of the design. The Brazilian cherry pan of the call has been impregnated with acrylic, turning the call weatherproof. As opposed to some other friction calls out there, this call has a built-in sweet spot which offers a second calling surface to provide a super-soft, close-range sound to complement the already strong sound from the primary striking surface. The backside also incorporates an integrated striker conditioner to help fine tune your striker in the field, and the sides employ a no-slip rubber grip ring, which can make a world of difference when you're trying to remain stealthy and that spring heat has your hands sweating. These retail for $99.99
3. The Game Changer with Corn Dog Striker
Beaver Creek Game Calls make some of the best turkey calls on the market, hands down. Every single call that Beaver Creek puts out is created and hand-tuned by Patrick Urckfitz, the owner of the company. These calls are in high demand by turkey hunters who know quality when they hear it and the Game Changer boasts quality without question. If you want one of these calls, you better e-mail Patrick and get on the waiting list, as they're often sold out.
The Game Changer is a black walnut pot call that features a cherry soundboard and glass playing surface that allow you to produce screaming yelps or tone it down when a big gobbler makes is about to make his move. It also includes Beaver Creek's Corndog Striker, and retails for $54.99.
4. Tucks Cherry Long Box Call
Now we move into box calls, which offer the easiest, simplest way to call in a turkey. Box calls have been around for decades, and there are still veteran, expert-level turkey hunters who swear they're still the best option out there.
Unfortunately, one of the most sought-after box calls out there recently got a whole lot harder to track down, as owner Gary Tucker had to close down his website due to some health issues he was dealing with. However, there are still a few out there online if you look hard enough. Tucks Game Calls were featured in national magazines, as well as television shows, and quickly became an American classic, largely because they sounded so good right out of the box. The Tucks Cherry Long Box Call has a finish that only gets better with age and the cherry finish darkens with exposure to sunlight.
5. The Hook Up
One brand that isn't as hard to come by, Primos is simply famous for their game calls. The Hook Up may have taken their fame to a new level by offering a box call that is as innovative and as it is easy to use. Instead of a traditional screw, the Hook Up uses a strong magnet that holds the paddle at the perfect angle to make a variety of calls, including crisp cuts, smooth purrs, and soft-to-loud yelps. It also includes Primos' Gobble Band, which allows hunters to produce some of the most realistic gobble sounds of any box call on the market. It may not present the same rare allure of the Tucks box call, but Primos has made quite the splash on the turkey market with this model. It retails for $59.99.
7. Split V 3 Reed Call
Reed calls, also known as diaphragm calls, are considered an option exclusive to only the most skilled turkey hunters. There's good reason for this, however, as they take a whole lot of practice to actually be effective. However, if you have the determination to learn how to use one, you'll not only have the ability to produce even better sounds, but you won't have to move your hands at all. Also, it doesn't hurt that they're considerably cheaper to purchase.
Hendershot Game Calls are all designed and created by Shane Hendershot, a multiple turkey calling national champion, and these calls sound good. The Triple V is a classic style that many turkey hunters come back to again and again for their rough and raspy sound. When it comes to finding a good reed call, don't trust the variety packs that you can find at big-box retailers. Trust a company that has a turkey calling world champion creating each and every one. Find them here for $9.99.
8. Natural Born Killer
This simple reed call is a unique design created by calling champion David Halloran. This call has prophylactic reeds as well as yellow and black latex that create the bat wing cut. You can expect clear front-end yelps with an awesome raspy finish. Each call is completely handmade and rival any of the best calls in the country at medium range with crisp yelps, clucks, and purrs. You can find them here for $9 each.
If this list is any indication, not all turkey calls are equal. Choosing wisely when it comes to the best possible turkey calls will fill your tags a little more quickly than others. Going with calls that everyone else has because they might be more popular will only get you so far. The extra step is often the difference between walking out with a bird on your should or walking out empty-handed.
Good luck this turkey season and hopefully one of these calls will help you take down a tom this spring!
Enjoy the outdoors?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.