You’ve been working a gobbler for 30 minutes and he finally shows 75 yards from your set-up at the edge of an open field. The tom is hesitant to come any closer. Its early season with little cover so moving to pick up your box or slate call to offer a few clucks and purrs isn’t an option. Lucky for you, you’re able to cluck a couple of times on your mouth call you put in a few minutes earlier and end up wrapping your tag on the gobbler.
Mouth calls won’t guarantee success on every hunt, however, they can be a tremendous tool in your turkey hunting toolbox producing incredibly realistic turkey vocalizations with little to no movement. New to turkey calling with a mouth call? Here’s the basics.
Parts of a Mouth Call
Mouth diaphragm turkey calls are made of three main parts consisting of a frame, latex reeds, and tape. The frame holds the latex reeds in place keeping the correct amount of tension. HS Strut manufactures mouth call frames in either plastic (the Premium Flex™ line) or aluminum (the Undertaker Series). The latex reeds are what actually produce the sound and come in various numbers (usually between 1 and 4 reeds) and thickness. HS uses Infinity Latex® requiring less air pressure to operate and little to no break-in period. The tape allows for the caller to force air into the reeds and if sealed against the roof of the mouth properly, prevents air from going around the call.
Selection and Fit
Go to your local sporting goods store and you’ll notice a wide range of offerings for mouth turkey calls. Here’s a few things to keep in mind regarding selection.
- Find a frame size to fit the palate of your mouth. HS produces small frame and regular frame mouth calls providing great options for those with smaller palates. If you pick up a plastic frame make sure to avoid bending the frame as it could break. If using aluminum, you can bend the frame slightly, however, this can impact the reed tension and sound of the call, so it is usually best to use it as manufactured.
- A better option for a customized fit involves trimming the tape on the call. Do this in very small increments. The key is to make sure enough tape is left to effectively seal the call against the roof of your mouth.
- While determining frame size and tape fit, you will also want to explore different reed variations and cuts. If starting out, it is recommended to try a 1 or 2 reed call with no cuts on the reeds. Additional reeds require more air pressure, and, though very realistic, some cuts require more air control to use with success.
Using the Call
On all mouth calls, the open end of the horseshoe with the reeds goes towards the front of the mouth. In addition, the side of the call with the longest reed goes towards the roof of the mouth. HS mouth calls also have a small bump on the call that should go down.
Before trying to produce turkey sounds, simply put the call in your mouth and get comfortable for a few minutes. This will help alleviate a gag reflex for some. Once the call is comfortable, try producing a sound by placing your tongue against the latex reeds and huffing air over the reeds. Higher tongue pressure will produce higher pitch sounds and less pressure will produce lower pitches. Try yelping by saying the word “yelp”.
Consistent practice is important. Once you master using a one or two straight reed call, you can explore calls with different cuts. Cuts allow for more realism while adding in appropriate rasp and producing different tone and pitch. In addition, once the yelp is mastered, other turkey vocalizations can be tried.
It’s generally recommended to replace mouth diaphragms annually, however, with proper care, mouth calls can be used for multiple seasons. The key is to keep them cool and dry.
After finished calling, wash calls with cold water, let them air dry and store in a cool, dry place. Storing in the fridge is an option as well. If using infrequently, consider dunking calls in mouthwash to remove bacteria and then wash off with cold water. When getting calls from storage, you’ll notice the reeds may be stuck together on multiple reed calls. Simply unstick the reeds by first getting the reeds wet. Usually by trying to produce a few calls, the reeds will become unstuck. You can also gently pull the reeds apart, however, this isn’t the preferred method as reeds can tear and/or will also stretch if pulled on frequently.
Mouth calls take time to use effectively, however, your effort can pay off with more turkeys in your truck. Check out the full line of HS Premium Flex™ mouth diaphragm calls at here.