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Updated Jan 14, 2022 8:06 AM

Every year, hunters try to determine the best turkey calls and search for the ones that suit them above all else. After all, stubborn gobblers aren’t easy to trick. These wily longbeards might have pea-sized brains, but they’re incredibly adept at evading hunters, even those who know a thing or two about calling.

Fortunately, quality gear can help even the odds. Choosing the best turkey calls for your arsenal is an important pre-season task. That said, there are numerous products on the market. Some are great. Others are good. Some are bad. Sorting the crème from the crap can be challenging.

Of course, selecting the best turkey calls for the hunt might seem subjective. And in some instances, it is. But there are certainly options that stand out above the crowd. Check out the following.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Turkey Call

As with any purchase, there are things to consider before dropping that cold, hard cash. Turkey hunters should think about numerous things — including skill level, hunting styles, geographical location, prices, and more — before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Skill Levels

Different hunters have different skill levels. Hunters should be honest about their own abilities and choose turkey calls that best fit them. That said, it’s important to continue improving. So don’t be afraid to purchase calls and practice with them before taking these afield. Always strive to get better, even with calls you haven’t mastered yet.

  • Beginner: Push-button and tube calls
  • Intermediate: Box, glass, slate, wing bone, and mouth (diaphragm) calls
  • Expert: Box, glass, slate, wing bone, and mouth (diaphragm) calls

Hunting Styles

Hunters choose to deploy certain turkey hunting styles. These can be very different from one to the next. As such, certain types of calls are oftentimes better suited for certain styles of hunting.

  • Run and gun
  • Sit and wait
  • Decoying
  • Fanning
  • Etc.

Turkey Subspecies

Another consideration is what turkey subspecies you’ll be hunting. Wild turkey hens sound different throughout the country. Listening to real birds where you hunt can help dial in the general sound of the flock, which you want to mimic.

  • Eastern turkey hens have a mid-level tone and sound. Heavy rasp likely.
  • Merriam’s turkey hens have a high-pitched tone and sound. Heavy rasp unlikely.
  • Osceola turkey hens have a mid-level tone and sound. Heavy rasp likely.
  • Rio Grande turkey hens have a medium- to- high-pitched tone and sound. Heavy rasp unlikely but is present in some hens.

Call Volume

  • Soft calling: mouth, glass, slate, wing bone, and push-button calls
  • Medium calling: mouth, glass, slate, wing bone, and push-button calls
  • Loud calling: mouth, glass, slate, and box calls

Mouth Call Designs

  • Bat wing cut: A great do-all call with good rasp.
  • Cutter cut: This is the call design made for getting loud, especially for boisterous cuts, cackles, and yelps.
  • Double cut: A higher-pitched call that’s great for certain vocalizations, such as kee-kees.
  • Ghost cut: A great call design for soft, raspy yelps, kee-kees, and whistles.
  • Split-V cut: A call that’s made for yelping, cutting, and everything in between.
  • W cut: Another do-all call that’s made for a good, raspy yelp, but covers other vocalizations, too.

Prices

Turkey calls include large price ranges. On the low end is the mouth (diaphragm) call. It’s the cheapest turkey call you can purchase. On the high end are custom box and pot calls. These are generally considered show pieces that aren’t used in the field, and if they are, not very often. That said, some are meant for field use.

Best Turkey Call for Beginners: Primos Bombshell

Best Turkey Call for Beginners

Why It Made the Cut

There are several push-button turkey calls on the market. Most are wooden, which typically aren’t as durable as plastic. And most of the competition can’t mount to your best turkey shotgun barrels as this model can.

Key Features 

  • Mounts to your barrel
  • Plastic construction
  • 9 x 5.5 x 2 inches

Pros

  • Always at the ready
  • Lightweight
  • Small sizing

Cons

  • More expensive than competing products

The Primos Bombshell is the best turkey call for beginners and an excellent push-button-style turkey call. It’s crafted from quality materials that offer great longevity, likely more so than competing products. It’s also lightweight, checking in at less than a tenth of a pound. Its dimensions are quite small, too, given the type of call that it is. And it’s crowning feature is that it mounts to your shotgun barrel, which is great for using while also keeping your hands on the gun and at the ready for when gobblers get close.

Best Turkey Mouth Call: Primos Hook Hunter Mouth Calls

Best Turkey Mouth Call

Why It Made the Cut

I’ve used piles of mouth calls, and many of those I didn’t like. But my favorite of all time? The Primos Hook Hunter mouth call series. And my favorite is the Sharp with its spike cut design. It’s the most realistic and consistent mouth call I’ve ever used, and great for a variety of mouth shapes and sizes.

Key Features 

  • Various cuts (reed designs)
  • Optimal size and shape
  • Realistic sounds

Pros

  • Various reed cuts and designs
  • Quality construction
  • Long-lasting materials

Cons 

  • Higher price than some other market options

Many of the mouth calls on the market fall apart and deconstruct quickly, especially if used frequently. The Primos Hook Hunter series is not among these making it our pick for best turkey mouth call. It’s a well-built collective of calls that hunters can rely on for the duration of turkey season. It comes with premium-gauge reeds and a durable outer shell.

This call requires little air to operate, too, especially compared to competing calls. I prefer this, because this makes it much easier to use soft calling when turkeys are at closer ranges. That said, it’s also possible to get loud. And best of all? It’s easy to vocalize each of the different sounds a turkey makes with this series of mouth calls.

Best Slate Turkey Call: Zink Calls Power Hen Thunder Ridge Series

Best Slate Turkey Call

Why It Made the Cut

This best slate turkey call offers one of the most consistent calls at an affordable price. Its design allows hunters to call softly, when necessary, and much louder, when needed, such as on windy days and to birds at greater distances.

Key Features 

  • Pot-call style
  • Quality slate material
  • Injection molded pot

Pros

  • Long-lasting design
  • Lightweight build
  • Ultra-realistic sound

Cons

  • Green coloring makes it easier to lose

The Zink Calls Power Hen Thunder Ridge series is an excellent option for those who want a reliable friction call. This slate and striker combo weighs approximately a half pound, thanks to the plastic pot. It fits comfortably in the hand, sounds great. With a well-trained hand, it lures in longbeards like it’s supposed to.

This slate call also offers durability, thanks to its tough design. This option is crafted with quality in mind, meaning you shouldn’t have to replace it as quickly as other slate calls on the market.

Best Friction Call: Primos Waterboard Box Call

Best Friction Turkey Call

Why It Made the Cut

When selecting a “best friction call,” one must understand how these calls work. As the category implies, obviously, friction is the answer. That said, friction is impeded by water and rain, which are common factors during turkey season. Thus, it’s important to select a call that mitigates this issue. Thanks to the waterproof coating, this call works, even when wet.

Key Features 

  • Waterproof and works in the rain
  • Mahogany box
  • Canary paddle

Pros

  • Double-sided call
  • Great sound
  • Works when wet

Cons

  • Limited wood design options

The Primos Waterboard Box Call is the king of friction calls, especially if you need one that works when wet. We’ve all been on turkey hunts where our slate and box calls get wet, and ultimately become useless until they dry out. That isn’t an issue with the Waterboard. In my experience, it sounds even better after getting a little soggy.

Drilling down on its specs, this call is crafted from mahogany (box) and canary (paddle) wood. Its relatively small design allows it to fit neatly into your turkey vest or backpack. It’s also lightweight, meaning it won’t increase the overall heftiness of your pack while trekking through the spring or fall turkey woods.

Best Turkey Box Call on a Budget: Strut Commander Pallbearer Dugout Box Call

Best Budget Box Call

Why It Made the Cut

Some turkey hunters want the best turkey box call that doesn’t cost a lot of money. The Strut Commander Pallbearer Dugout Box Call checks that box, among others. It is a medium-sized call, which helps save room in your pack or vest, too.

Key Features 

  • Lightweight (0.29 pounds)
  • 11 x 2.5 x 5 inches
  • Blended material

Pros

  • Durable build
  • Double-siding calling
  • Comes well-tuned

Cons

  • Less appealing aesthetics

The Duck Commander Pallbearer Dugout Box Call is what I consider the practical turkey hunter’s call of choice. It’s affordable, isn’t flashy, and gets the job done well. That’s what a turkey hunter needs.

The Pallbearer Dugout also has a very realistic sound, which you also need from a call. It can cover a wide range of vocalizations, too. And best of all — it’s easy to use, making it perfect for you, the experienced turkey hunter, as well as others who might not be.

Best Turkey Box Call Splurge: Lynch World Champion Box Call

Best Premier Turkey Box Call

Why It Made the Cut

When people think of box calls, this is the call that often comes to mind. It’s famous in the friction world, and for good reason — it’s the best turkey box call at a premium price. It also offers abilities that others don’t, such as a unique design that allows hen vocalizations on one side and gobbler calls on the other.

Key Features 

  • Double-sided design
  • Mahogany wood
  • Hand-tuned

Pros

  • Unique design improves hen and gobbler sounds
  • Great for beginners and experienced turkey hunters
  • 75 years of experience built into one box call

Cons

  • Larger sizing, which takes up more room

The Lynch World Champion Box Call is crafted from straight-grain mahogany (box) and walnut (paddle), ultimately improving the sound of the call. This is more realistic than plastic models, and other wooden materials. As mentioned, it offers a two-sided design that optimizes one for hen vocalizations, and the other for gobbler calls. This makes it versatile.

Thanks to its intuitive design, this call makes authentic turkey sounds. It’s hand-made in the USA and comes already tuned. It’s a great option to carry afield.

Best Glass Turkey Call: Bone Collector Sweet April Glass Call

Best Glass Turkey Call

Why It Made the Cut

Those who want a quality glass call that’s made to last should consider the Bone Collector Sweet April Mahogany pot call with glass over glass. This is the best glass turkey call because it’s durable and sounds very realistic.

Key Features 

  • Mahogany and glass materials
  • High-pitched calling surface
  • Works in wet weather

Pros

  • Sweet-sounding design
  • Long-lasting build
  • Great striker included

Cons

  • Pricier than other market options

The Bone Collector Sweet April Glass Call is an excellent option for turkey hunters who want a great glass pot call. This option works well, even during rainy weather and wet conditions. It produces that raspy sound you want, even when it’s wet outside.

Weighing less than a quarter pound, this option is also very lightweight. It won’t take up much room in the pack or vest, either. This is an excellent turkey call for your arsenal.

Best Custom Turkey Call: Woodhaven Custom Calls Legend Glass Friction Call

Best Custom Turkey Call

Why It Made the Cut

Those who want the best custom turkey call should look no further than the Woodhaven Custom Calls Legend Glass Friction Call. It sounds incredible and is made to last. It produces very realistic hen vocalizations.

Key Features 

  • Premium components
  • Walnut cup
  • Glass sound surfaces

Pros

  • Make true double-note yelps
  • Realistic clucks, cutts, purrs, and yelps
  • Very good strikers included

Cons

  • Pricier than some other market options

The Woodhaven Custom Calls Legend Glass Friction Call is a great option for those who want a higher-end pot call. Furthermore, you can make true double-not yelps, which is more difficult to do on certain competing products. And the two included strikers let you switch up the sound quickly and give that Wiley Tom the coaxing he needs.

This also comes with a surface saver lid and a conditioning kit. This allows you to keep it in great working condition. It also helps preserve that authentic sound this call is known for.

Best Turkey Locator Call: Strut Commander Hootie Owl Turkey Locator Call

Best Turkey Locator Call

Why It Made the Cut

This is one of the best turkey locator calls on the market simply because it sounds great. This call mimics a barred owl well and works incredibly for locating birds early in the mornings and late in the afternoons. This call is very simple to learn and use. Experienced and inexperienced hunters alike can use this model.

Key Features 

  • Extremely lightweight at 0.15 pounds
  • Pocket-sized (5 x 1.25 x 1.25 inches)
  • Blended materials

Pros

  • Lightweight design
  • Great barred owl sounds
  • Incredible volume range (soft to loud)

Cons

  • Neutral color design makes it easier to lose on the ground

The Strut Commander Hootie Owl Turkey Locator Call is ideal for locating birds early and late in the day. It’s just what you need to pull a shock gobble out of a stubborn bird without enticing it to come to you. This is important, as oftentimes, hunters want to close the distance and get into the best possible position. You can’t do this if the turkey hears a hen vocalization and starts coming to you first.

It’s also very lightweight, and barely adds to the burden of a hunting pack or vest’s overall weight. It even fits neatly in the hand while operating it. Plus, ringing up under $10, this is a very affordable locator call. Overall, it’s the ideal locator call for turkey hunters.

Methodology 

Choosing the best turkey calls isn’t easy. There’s a large pool of products to sift through. There are many companies, and even more individual models to look at. That’s a challenge that takes a lot of time and plenty of consideration, and we don’t take that task lightly. I looked at the following areas when making my choices.

  • Sound: Turkeys are pretty adept at recognizing the sounds created by other turkeys, so the quality of the sound produced by a call is one of the most important factors.
  • Ease of use: A call is of no use if you can’t get it to run the way it was designed to. I selected calls that were easy to learn so you can concentrate on hunting.
  • Materials: Calls quickly become treasured items. I selected calls that would stand up to rough conditions in the field so your new favorite call won’t fail after a couple outings.

After considering all relevant factors, I arrived at the picks shown above. I’ve used many of these in the field, and held and operated even more. I’m confident you’ll get what you need out of each of the turkey calls listed here. All of them are durable, are crafted with quality materials and sound like real turkeys, which is the most important qualification of all.

FAQs

Q: What is the loudest turkey call?

The turkey call type that is the easiest to get loud with — while maintaining realism — is the box call. Slate and glass calls, as well as mouth calls, can get loud, too, though.

Q: How long do turkey mouth calls last?

Generally, mouth calls should only be used for one season. Even when kept clean and germ-free, the reeds wear out and turkey sounds start to become distorted. That said, keeping mouth calls in the refrigerator when not in use can lengthen their lifespan.

Q: How do you choose a turkey call?

When selecting a turkey call, it’s important to consider skill levels, hunting styles, preferred call designs, product pricing, and the subspecies of turkey you’ll be hunting.

Q: What is the easiest turkey call type to use?

The simplest turkey call to operate is the push-button style call. Then box calls. Then pot (glass and slate) calls.

Q: What is the most difficult turkey call type to use?

For most turkey hunters, the most difficult turkey call type to use is the mouth (diaphragm) call.

Final Thoughts on the Best Turkey Calls

Overall, there are plenty of turkey calls that check the relevant boxes. The ones I selected sound like real turkeys first and foremost, which is the most important quality. They are also easy to use and durable, so you can rely on them for years. Choose one of the above based on the hunting scenarios you encounter and get after them. Good luck in the turkey woods this season.