December 15, 2022

Cluck Like A Hen: All About Mouth Turkey Calls

Fanned turkeys strut in a grassy field in the winter.

A loud gobble sounds in the distance. You call lightly. You get a response, but you don’t see the tom. You keep calling him in. In a blink, the gobbler appears, and you shuffle to grab your gun. By the time you’re ready, he’s noticed you and taken off. 

Don’t miss another opportunity. You’ll need to grab your gun if you’re holding a box or slate call. Switching hands may only take a few seconds, but movement or noise can send a turkey into high alert. Mouth calls let you hunt hands-free, so you’re always ready to take a shot.

Some hunters live by box and slate calls. If those turkey hunting calls suit you best, remember to think quickly and be ready when a bird steps into range. For those looking for something new, try calling turkeys with a mouth call.

Take a look at how mouth turkey calls work. This article breaks down different mouth call cuts and describes common turkey sounds. 

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4 Parts of a Mouth Call

Turkey mouth calls are made of four parts. Each part plays a role in helping you sound like a real turkey.

  • Tape. When you use a mouth call, you need to create a seal. You want to stop air from blowing around the reed and instead blow through the reed to make a sound. The tape acts as this seal. You can trim the material to fit your mouth. Often, you can cut it with scissors.
  • Frame. What holds it all together? The frame. Mouth call frames are plastic or aluminum, and they hold the reed in place.
  • Tab. The closed part of the call, located at the back of the frame, is called the tab. The tab adds tension to the reed. Typically, the tab goes down in your mouth.
  • Reeds. Within the call, there is a rubber or latex reed(s). The reed vibrates as you blow through it, creating the sound. If the call has multiple reeds, you can make various sounds. Reeds should always face the front of your mouth.

As you use a mouth call, breathe from your chest or diaphragm. Try to avoid breathing from your mouth—as you would blowing out birthday candles. Don’t puff your cheeks. Instead, blow like you are fogging up a window or huffing after a frustrating conversation. 

Thinner reeds offer a higher-pitched sound and take less air to work. On the other hand, thicker reeds take more air, producing a lower, deeper sound. If you want to call loudly, a thicker reed will do it. For softer clucks, try a mouth call with a thin reed. 

6 Cuts of Diaphragm Turkey Calls

Turkey calling with a mouth call takes practice. It’s like learning to play an instrument. You have to practice before you can play perfect tunes. Every mouth call plays differently, too. You’ll have to try out several options before you find one that feels comfortable and produces the sounds you want.


A double-cut mouth call is easier for beginners to start on. It doesn’t take much huffing and puffing to make subtle sounds. If you’re newer to turkey hunting, start here for your first turkey mouth call. With a double-cut call, you’ll be making yelps and kee-kees in no time!


A w-cut mouth call falls between the double and bat wing. This mouth call is raspier than the double-cut, adding depth to your yelps. It also takes less air to call than the bat wing and other aggressive, raspier cuts. 

Bat Wing

The bat wing is the superhero of all-purpose mouth calls. On an early spring morning, you can consider it your sidekick—the Robin to your Batman. A bat wing is raspier than a double-cut but still easier to control than more aggressive cuts.


Split-v cuts are popular, all-purpose mouth calls, best for soft to moderate yelps and cutts. With this mouth call, you can produce many medium raspy sounds and gain more control over the tone.


Are you looking for a loud, raspy turkey call? A cutter-style mouth call is aptly named. It makes loud turkey cutt sounds. 

A cutter is best for calling turkeys in open country or being heard on a windy day. More air is required to produce sound on this call. Cutter-style calls are more challenging to operate.

Ghost Cut 

Ghost cuts are a versatile choice for plain yelps, whistles and kee-kees. These calls can produce soft rasps. While ghost cut calls may be a fall hunting favorite, they are also an excellent option for spring turkey hunts.

Tips for Realistic Turkey Mouth Call Sounds

Turkeys produce a variety of noises and notes. Each sound expresses something to the flock, from contentment to alarm. 

Varying your calls helps you seem more realistic. You’ll want to purr, cluck and yelp like real birds. As you practice, you’ll get better and better at calling turkeys with a mouth call.     


Let’s start with a basic sound. Yelps. Hens use yelps to communicate with each other or bring in gobblers during mating season. 

A yelp is two notes—a slower first note and a quick, sharp final note. As you call, shoot for purposeful yelps that aren’t strung together too quickly. The front note should be high-pitched, and the lower note should be raspy. 

When hens yelp, they open and close their mouths. Some hunters recommend saying “yelp” into the mouth call. Saying the word mimics how hens open and close their mouths, producing a more realistic sound. 

If saying “yelp” into the call doesn’t work for you, try moving your jaw as you yelp. 

How to Yelp

  1. Put the call in your mouth. Adjust its position. 
  2. Dampen the front of the reed in your mouth. 
  3. Press the reed lightly with your tongue. 
  4. Blow into the reed while saying “yelp.”


When hens are happy, they purr. Turkeys purr and cluck softly as they preen themselves, feed or wander contentedly with the flock. 

Purrs reassure the birds of each other’s presence and can be used to your advantage. If you need to coax a bird closer, these soft, rolling calls may help a bird take those final steps toward you.  

Clucks and purrs often are heard together. Turkeys usually cluck first, then purr with a rolling note. Feel free to mix these calls up, so you sound like one of the flock.

How to Purr

  1. Place the call in your mouth. 
  2. Flutter your tongue as you blow air into the reed. 
  3. If this method doesn’t work for you, try rolling your “r’s” while blowing air into the reed. 


When turkeys want to get each other’s attention, they make sudden and short sounds called clucks. Plain clucks can be one, two or three notes. A cluck is not an alarm—it’s the sound of a happy bird. 

If you’re encouraging a gobbler to come closer, clucks can help fool him into thinking a hen is waiting. When a gobbler starts to hang up, begin calling with clucks to give him more motivation to come your way. 

Clucks and purrs go together. Turkeys alternate these sounds back to back. Hunters should practice both for better results. Remember, a happy bird is subtle. There’s no need to cluck aggressively.

How to Cluck

  1. Place the call in your mouth. 
  2. Breathe from your chest or diaphragm, and let the air build up.
  3. Say the word “puck” while sending a quick burst of air into the reed.
  4. Quickly close your lips to stop the sound. 


Excited turkeys make louder noises. A cutt is a loud and sharp cluck. Often, cutts are mixed with yelps. Hens cutt with one to three notes at a time. 

If you hear a hen cutting, she’s not alarmed—she’s excited and showing her dominance. Use a talkative hen to your advantage. You can get henned-up gobblers on the move if you bring the dominant hen to you. 

If a hen is cutting, cut right back to draw her near. She’ll be ready to rumble if you cut off her calls with your own and sound even more excited. Once the dominant hen is on the move, she’ll often bring the gobbler too.

How to Cutt

  1. Place the call in your mouth. 
  2. Breathe from your chest or diaphragm, and let the air build up.
  3. Say the word “pick,” “peck” or “tick” while blowing into the reed. You’ll hold the note for longer than a cluck. 
  4. Produce the notes in groups. Pick-PickPickPick. PickPickPickPick.


Lost flock? Kee-kee calls help gather birds back together. Lost young turkeys use high-pitched kee-kee calls to identify their flock, and adults respond with variations. 

Though kee-kee calls are heard often in the fall, you can use them in the spring hunting season to seem natural. Kee-kees are typically three notes, each lasting only a few seconds. You may also hear turkeys combine kee-kees with yelps. 

How to Kee-Kee

  1. Place the call in your mouth. 
  2. Press down on the front of the reed with your tongue. 
  3. Narrow the air passageway under your tongue. 
  4. Send air into the reed, saying “kee-kee” or “tee-tee.” 


Hear sharp notes ringing out? That’s an alarm. Turkeys putt when they believe they are in danger. Hunters can use putt calls in certain scenarios. 

If you’ve been waiting for a gobbler to raise his head, putting will get him to stand at attention. Hunters who use this tactic must be quick! Be ready to make your shot because the turkey will be ready to get away at the slightest movement or noise.


The glorious gobble. The hallmark of a male turkey. No matter what happens on your hunt, it’s always fun to hear a tom’s gurgling gobble. If you’re turkey hunting this spring, you’re sure to hear it!

Toms gobble to let hens know where they are. When calling, hunters should use gobbling sparingly. 

Newer hunters may think gobbling is the best turkey mouth call of them all (it’s fun to do!), but you must be cautious about where you use it. If you’re hunting on public land or shared acreage, you may call another hunter instead.

If you’re on private land, you can gobble to attract toms looking for a fight. A sudden gobble may spark a tom’s competitive side and have him moving closer to you. Hearing another tom can also do the opposite. Less dominant birds may flee the area.

Calling with a gobble is a last resort. Only do it if you have no other options or hunt on private land. If you need a locator call, you can use owl or crow calls to get a response from a turkey.

Take a Turkey Hunting Trip

Mouth calls are versatile and don’t require your hands. You can keep a hold of your gun or bow, and be ready when a gobbler pops out. Once you master using a mouth call, you’ll be set for your next turkey hunt.

Grab your gear. Set out on an adventure. Plan your spring turkey hunt today. 

Sign up with HUUNT to access guided turkey hunting trips. 

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