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What Are the Most Important Aspects of Calling?

Steve Stoltz

Steve Stoltz stresses two things with calling: realism and rhythm.

I know some mediocre turkey callers who regularly get birds. Is calling that important? If so, what are the most important aspects of calling? — Rob Bryan

We figured that Steve Stoltz, former world-champion caller, was the perfect person to answer this. Here’s his reply:

“A good woodsman will kill a lot of turkeys, even if he can barely call at all. But if you take the same guy and add outstanding calling skills, he’s going to kill more turkeys. So is calling important? Absolutely. Is it the final word? No, but it certainly will increase your success ratio if your calling skills are at a higher level.

“If you learn one thing about calling, add realism. Memorize those real, live turkey sounds; the things turkeys do that most callers fail to do if they don’t listen to real turkeys. The best way I can describe it is like this: If somebody calls you on the phone and has one steady, constant, monotone voice, you’re probably going to hang up on them. It will sound like a zombie on the other end. But if someone calls with a bouncy, lively rhythm, you’ll probably stay on the phone. It’s the same way with turkeys. They can feel the realism in your calling. Learn to add that realism, including the little clucks between yelps, cutting between yelps, fly-down cackles, soft tree calls before a turkey flies down, clucking and purring and the little high-pitched noises turkeys make between other calls. Those things will increase your chances of making him believe there’s a real turkey there.

“Also, if I slow down my speech in the proper rhythm, people can understand me. Turkeys are the same way, too. They know proper rhythm, whether it’s the steady rhythm of yelping or the broken cadence of cutting. I don’t care whether your calling is clear, coarse, raspy, high or low. If it’s in proper rhythm, you’re going to call in more turkeys.”

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