Turkey Calling: Aggressive Turkey Talk –
When to Come on Strong

By John Trout, Jr.

Switching To Aggressive Calls
Often Prompts A Bird To Move – Now!

Most veteran turkey hunters don’t rely on forceful hen talk to lure in a gobbler – until it’s necessary. Such was the case for me when two gobblers hung up just over the top of a hill beyond gun range. I couldn’t see them, but they held their ground for over 20 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong. Both toms loved the gentle yelps and clucks that most spring hunters rely upon. They gobbled furiously and begged me to come to them. After it became obvious they were not about to move, I pulled out the diaphragm call and started cutting to mock the sounds of a furious and excited hen.

When to Get Aggressive

Aggressive Turkey Talk – When to Come On Strong By John Trout, Jr.  Image 1

Any friction call is capable of producing aggressive turkey talk, but it should be used
only when the moment is right.
Photo by John & Vicki Trout

The previous anecdote probably gives you a good idea of when to apply insistent hen talk. In fact, stubborn toms – call-shy toms or those that hang up because they wait on hens to come to them – are perfect candidates. Consider that nothing you’ve done previously has worked. True, you could remain patient and stick with the same easy-going calls, hoping the bird will make a move. Nevertheless, the longer it takes for a bird to come, the more likely something will go wrong before he gets to you. On the other hand, switching to aggressive calls provides something different and often prompts a bird to move now.

I would not suggest you get aggressive during the early morning hours when turkeys are roosted. This is the time when hens get social, they stick with gentle tree yelps and occasional clucks. Fly-down cackles are common, but they should not be confused with forceful turkey talk.

Gobblers accompanied by hens are always tough customers. Most will not leave the hens and come to you, regardless of whether you try aggressive language. However, in desperate situations, you can consider using belligerent talk to lure in the hens, which in turn brings the gobbler. Some hens can’t resist a sassy hen nearby.

Finally, don’t get aggressive if you already have a gobbler coming. Once a bird responds to your subtle talk, stick with the same sounds and get forceful only if he gets bored and holds his ground.

Hard-Hitting Calls

Aggressive Turkey Talk – When to Come On Strong By John Trout, Jr. Image 2

Even a tight-mouthed tom might gobble
after hearing aggressive hen talk.
Photo by John & Vicki Trout

When the time is right to get aggressive, it’s important to know what calls work best. For instance, cutts often work when gobblers hang up, like the ones mentioned at the beginning of this story.

A cutt is no more than a series of sharp, rapid yelps. Instead of offering a sequence of four yelps equally spaced, start with three rapid yelps and taper it off with a few more.

Creating the sounds of fighting hens also lures in stubborn gobblers, not to mention hens that accompany gobblers. Knight & Hale first produced Fighting Purrs many years ago. Today, several call manufacturers offer push button box calls that are easy to master. The sounds of fighting hens could fire up a gobbler at a moment’s notice.

Rapid assertive clucks, even though they could resemble putts, work surprisingly well when a tom gobbles but insists upon getting farther away. The excited clucks get their attention and might stop them from moving, while allowing you to close ground.

All friction calls and many mouth diaphragms are capable of producing aggressive talk. I particularly like the diaphragm that has no less than three reeds. The raspy sound makes a great cutt. Of all the friction calls, my favorite is the aluminum for getting aggressive. Its high-frequency sounds get right to the point and will reach out and touch a gobbler, even on a windy day.

Know When to Quit

Aggressive Turkey Talk – When to Come On Strong By John Trout, Jr . Image 3

Aggressive talk could lure in the hen that accompanies the gobbler.
Photo by John & Vicki Trout

If you find it necessary to get aggressive, I suggest you don’t overdo it. Most often, a tom will respond within the first few minutes. That is, providing your assertive hen talk worked. If he doesn’t react shortly after the aggressive talk begins, it’s probably best if you don’t say another word. In fact, I’ve seen them get burned out, stop gobbling, turn around and leave.

First try one or two sequences of aggressive calls and see what happens. If a gobbler doesn’t come, try again. Then sit back and wait. Sometimes after getting aggressive, a bird will stay put for only a short period. The silence soon becomes tempting and here he comes!

By the way, the two toms mentioned at the beginning of the story couldn’t stand the temptation of moving once they heard the aggressive cutts. They gobbled repeatedly; then the woods went silent. I knew they were coming. Moments later, two white heads appeared on top of the ridge. Finally, as my beating heart became all I could handle, I squeezed the trigger. It was over and the hostile hen talk had done the job.

This spring, I suggest you don’t head for the woods ready to get aggressive. First, stick with the subtle talk as soon as you bump heads with a tom turkey. However, when that fails, the time is right to pull a rabbit out of your hat and get hostile. Sometimes, it’s exactly what a gobbler craves.


About John Trout, Jr.

John Trout, Jr. - Outdoor WriterJohn Trout, Jr. is a free-lance writer and nature photographer from Southern Indiana. His work has appeared in numerous publications throughout North America. He has authored eight books, including Hunting Farmland Bucks, Ambushing Trophy Whitetails, and The Complete Book of Wild Turkey Hunting. You can visit his website at www.troutswildoutdoors.com.


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