Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Yelp! Kee-Kee! Cluck! Spring gobbler hunting is all about the call, says noted calling expert


knowing what to say, when to say it and what the call should sound like. Once you have that informatio­n, you will need an accurate device to reproduce the sounds.

The most widely used vocalizati­on in turkey talk, the one I consider to be the cornerston­e of the turkey language, is a two-note sound called the “yelp.” It is used by hens and gobblers in varying degrees of volume, intensity and duration to send different signals. When you dissect a yelp, you find that it is made up of a high pitched “kee” note that breaks over very sharply into a sound best described as a “youck”. When you put the two sounds together you get a “keeyouck”, which is about as close as I can come to describing the yelp sound with words. You should be familiar with all of the yelp sequences so you will be sure you are sending the right message at the right time. We will talk about all of them, beginning with the young poult’s earliest attempt to communicat­e.

The first note in the yelp is the whistle sound called a “kee.” When turkeys are very young, they can manage the first half of the yelp, so the first calling sound they make is a plain kee-kee or poult whistle. The young turkey’s lost calls are plaintive and pleading and as pure and clear as a silver bell. I don’t get to hear poult whistles very often, but when I stumble into a brood while berry picking or working up food plots, I stop whatever I’m doing and enjoy the music. Young poult whistles are far and away the most musical bird calls I’ve ever heard. The whistles are usually done in groups of three — “kee-keekee,” “kee-kee-kee” — and repeated every 30 seconds or so until contact is made with the family flock.

When the poults get a little older, their whistle gets a little coarser and the young turkeys start trying to add a “youck” syllable to the “kee” to make a complete yelp. The young hens whistle two or three times to build up a yelp, then they yelp a time or two. When they are able to get that done, the sequence is called a “keekee run,” for whatever reason. Young gobblers sometimes gargle out an attempt at a yelp before they whistle, then yelp two or three times after the whistle.

As the turkeys mature, they usually drop the preyelp whistles altogether. But turkeys can do whatever they want to do, so it isn’t unusual to hear adult hens doing keekee runs in the spring. On several occasions I have been able to get gobblers to respond to kee-kees when they wouldn’t gobble at any of my counterfei­t calls or even the yelping of a genuine hen. … I believe the kee-kees are such pure, unadultera­ted turkey sounds they penetrate whatever kind of [dishonesty] filter the turkey might have, and they gobble whether they want to or not. If turkeys aren’t talking, a kee-kee run is worth a try. You won’t alarm anything, and you just might get something stirred up.

• Cluck-Purr. “I’m a mature hen, I am seriously in the mood and will do the tailspin with the next rooster that wants it.”

• Cut. A quick cluck spoken by a hen. “I’m all flustered because another turkey is approachin­g.”

• Tree Yelp. “Yawn. I’m safely roosting in a tree and

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States