The American wild turkey is one of the most rewarding and frustrating species of game to chase. You’ll often hear hunters refer to turkeys as super smart, but the reality is that they’re actually just creatures of habit — and fearful of just about everything. It’s this fear that gives turkeys the illusion of being smart and able to outwit even the most seasoned hunter.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to outsmart a turkey. Like so many other things in life, the best way is to keep it simple and fun. Proper gear, of course, along with an extreme amount of patience, a few good decoys, and a great call. However, you can’t expect to go out and buy all the top-of-the-line calls and equipment, then hit the woods on your first morning knowing how to use them or even which ones to use.
Learning that, along with the ingrained habits of the birds, will come in due time after continuously going out hunting and interacting with wild turkeys. The best advice I can offer is to start off with the basics when it comes to your calls and sounds. Master using the best turkey call for beginners, then shift your focus to a new technique or a different style call.
Here are three options for the easiest turkey call to use, which will help you learn and have a ton of fun.
Best Turkey Call for Beginners: Slate or Pot Friction Call
The slate friction call, sometimes also referred to as a pot call, is a top pick for the best turkey call for beginners, especially for youth. It’s constructed from a wooden or plastic bowl (the “pot”) and topped with a thin piece of hard material such as slate, glass, crystal, aluminum, or a multitude of different materials.
Slate calls come with a striker, typically made from wood or plastic, and the sound is produced when the striker comes in contact with the hard surface of the pot. You can create a variety of sounds by using the striker in different ways and at different angles when making contact on the surface.
This is the first call I picked up at 10 when hunting with my dad in Alabama, which is how I know firsthand it’s the best turkey call for beginners. I remember us going down to the local hardware store and him buying me my first pot call, a beginners’ model made by Hunters Specialties.
It was just a basic slate and plastic pot call, but it came with a cover that had various slot sizes cut into it, with arrows around each one. The cover was designed so you can place the tip of the striker inside a slot and trace its edge, following the direction of the arrows. This design makes it the easiest turkey call to use, easily producing the yelp, cluck, and purr of a hen turkey, depending on which slot is used.
I remember using my first slate call nonstop, even while in the vehicle with my dad. I’m sure he got tired of hearing it, but in no time, I had mastered the basics of how to yelp, purr, and cluck by learning how to hold the striker and drag it along the call’s surface. Before long, I could take the cover off and make the same sounds without it.
That simple beginner Hunters Specialties call was the very first call I used when I called in my very first longbeard on my own, and I used it for years afterward. I eventually moved on to learning how different surfaces and materials produce different sound profiles and more aggressive styles of calling, but I firmly believe that I would have been severely handicapped with a more specialized call had I not first learned the foundation and control of the striker.
The box call is another great option for the best turkey call for beginners to learn on, and is still widely used and preferred by many seasoned vets in the turkey hunting community.
This type of friction call is comprised of a wooden box with a thin double or single edge and a wooden lid, referred to as the paddle. The bottom, AKA the inside of the paddle, is usually chalked and the sound of the call is produced when the lid comes into contact with the edges of the box. Yelps, purrs, clucks, and cuts are made by controlling the speed and rhythm of the lid on the box.
What makes the box call a standout is its versatility. It can be used to make the super light, soft sounds of a hen or super loud and raspy sounds on windy days to carry your calls further and entice longbeards into gun range from a much longer distance. The box call can even be used to replicate the iconic gobble of a longbeard tom when the lid is used on both sides of the box simultaneously (note this only works on a double edged box). That versatility, specifically, is what makes the box call the best turkey call for beginners.
After my slate call, the box call was one of the first I learned to use at an early age. 30 years later, I still have the same one in my hunting cabinet! It’s a single-sided box call made by Lynch, appropriately named the Fool Proof Turkey Box Call (model 101F). The beauty of this call is that the single side design eliminates accidental sounds caused when the lid comes in contact with the other side by mistake, causing a distorted or failed yelp sound. I still regularly use the Lynch Fool Proof to this day, because I find it to be the easiest turkey call. There’s a reason Lynch hasn’t changed it one but since 1940!
Easiest Turkey Call: Push Button Box Call
The push button box call is another contender for the best turkey call for beginners. It’s more commonly called just a push button call and sometimes also referred to as a push/pull call. As its name implies, all you have to do to operate this turkey call is push a button or pull a string that’s attached to the plunger on the rear.
Some push button box calls are designed to strap to your gun barrel and be used hands-free. This makes the call operational while in the shooting position, in order to conceal movement as you work that longbeard tom.
Do not let the simplicity of the push button call fool you. Hundreds of toms have been seduced by these calls over the years, testament to the fact that it’s a top choice for the best turkey call for beginners. With the correct speed and rhythm, you can produce very realistic yelps, purrs, clucks, and cuts.
I remember using a push button call from Hunters Specialties many misty mornings while hunting along the Alabama River during my youth. The great thing about this type of call is the limited hand movements required, especially while your bird is in sight and movement needs to be concealed.
It can be overwhelming trying to decide what calls to use when there are so many options available, especially as a beginner. The most important thing to remember is to keep it easy and fun — and don’t be afraid to actually use your calls in the field while hunting! Turkeys will teach you more out there than you can ever learn through research or even expert advice.
At the end of the day, the hunt is purely about the experience and memories made afield. The harvest is just the bonus…but using the best turkey call for beginners can certainly sweeten the deal.