How to Make a Turkey Trumpet Call: A Guide to Mastering This Unique Musical Instrument

The turkey trumpet call, also known as the turkey yelper, is a fascinating and effective tool used by hunters to attract wild turkeys during the spring hunting season. This unique instrument mimics the vocalizations of female turkeys, enticing male turkeys to approach, offering hunters a chance to bag their prize. Mastering the art of the turkey trumpet call requires practice, patience, and a good understanding of turkey vocalizations. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of the turkey trumpet call, providing you with the knowledge and techniques to become a skilled turkey caller.

Understanding the Turkey Trumpet Call

The turkey trumpet call is a wooden or plastic tube with a reed inside. When blown into, the reed vibrates, producing sounds that resemble the yelps, clucks, and purrs of female turkeys. These calls are designed to attract male turkeys during the breeding season, when they are actively seeking mates.

Types of Turkey Trumpet Calls

There are two main types of turkey trumpet calls:

  • Single-reed calls: These calls are the most common and produce a wide range of sounds. They are relatively easy to learn and use, making them a good choice for beginners.
  • Double-reed calls: These calls produce a more realistic and complex sound than single-reed calls. They require more practice to master but can be very effective in attracting turkeys.

Learning to Use the Turkey Trumpet Call

Learning to use the turkey trumpet call effectively takes practice and patience. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Start with a single-reed call: Single-reed calls are easier to learn and use than double-reed calls.
  • Practice in a quiet place: Find a quiet place where you can practice without distractions.
  • Start with basic calls: Begin by learning the basic turkey calls, such as the yelp, cluck, and purr.
  • Listen to real turkeys: Pay attention to the sounds that real turkeys make and try to imitate them with your call.
  • Practice regularly: The more you practice, the better you will become at using the turkey trumpet call.

Turkey Trumpet Call Techniques

Once you have mastered the basic calls you can start experimenting with different techniques to attract turkeys. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a variety of calls: Don’t just rely on one call. Use a variety of yelps, clucks, and purrs to keep the turkey’s attention.
  • Vary the volume of your calls: Use a mix of soft and loud calls to sound more natural.
  • Use hand motions: Use hand motions to add realism to your calls.
  • Be patient: Turkeys can be wary, so be patient and don’t give up if they don’t come in right away.

The turkey trumpet call is a valuable tool for turkey hunters, offering a unique way to attract these elusive birds. By understanding the different types of calls, practicing regularly, and experimenting with different techniques, you can become a skilled turkey caller and increase your chances of success in the field. So, grab your turkey trumpet call, head out to the woods, and start practicing! With time and dedication, you’ll be able to master this fascinating instrument and attract those gobblers with ease.

Make Your Own Using Michael Pendley’s Tips

By the late 1800s, Charles L. Jordan (1841-1909) began publishing how-to articles on turkey hunting, and making calls from wingbone and cane. Sources indicate he may have crafted them for decades before. After Jordans murder by a poacher, his writing on wild turkey hunting was compiled by Edward A. McIlhenny. Jordans work posthumously appeared as articles, and was subsequently published as The Wild Turkey and Its Hunting in the fall of 1914, a work bearing McIlhennys name – the first turkey hunting book ever.

Wingbone yelpers, used by Native Americans, were tools of utility, made to lure in and help kill turkeys. Jordans work – aided by McIlhenny – documented our tradition, essentially kick-starting the era of wild turkey literature. Important origins of modern callmaking began with Jordan.

The Jordan yelper, which is made of bone, silk, nickel, and cane, is described in detail in the posthumous book and is claimed to be his own invention. Jordan preferred a hens radius for the mouthpiece. By his instruction, this section is glued into a cane reed joint. To ensure an airtight fit, the inserted bone tip is first wrapped with tissue paper dampened with glue, as per the instructions in the McIlhenny book.

A second cane joint is added to the middle section, cut for the desired calling tone. Connecting pieces are silk-wrapped. Nickel-plating is fitted on the cane. Both add strength and visual appeal, Jordan implies.

Michael Pendley, Realtree. coms Timber2Table food blogger and avid turkey hunter, offers his recipe here for building a bamboo wingbone-style yelper. Scroll down for DIY steps in each of the five click-through frames.

– Steve Hickoff Title: DIY Materials and Steps 1-3:

how to make a turkey trumpet call


  • Bamboo
  • Fine-tooth saw (hack or coping)
  • Glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Length of wire for cleaning out bamboo sections
  • Optional for decoration: Thread and spray polyurethane

Step 1: Cut the bamboo in three sections, each with a diameter that is gradually smaller than the previous one, in between the joints. Shape each section’s upper end with the sandpaper so that it fits snugly into the next larger section.

Step 2: Use the wire to clean any debris from inside each section. Blow any loose debris out and verify that air passes freely through each tube.

Step 3: Test fit the call together and check for tone. Change the length of the trumpet end to increase or decrease the call’s volume.

(Michael Pendley DIY tips/photo) Title: DIY Steps 4 and 5:

how to make a turkey trumpet call

Step 4: Once the sound is acceptable, mark where each tube goes inside the previous one so that you can reassemble it at the same length. After disassembling the call, cover the area that will be inserted into the next tube with a small amount of glue from your marked line up. Careful not to get glue over the end of the tube and block airflow.

Step 5: Reassemble the call and allow the glue to dry.

(Michael Pendley DIY tips/photo) Title: DIY Steps 6 and 7:

how to make a turkey trumpet call

Step 6: Round and smooth the small end of the call to make a comfortable mouthpiece.

Step 7: Make the call your own by dating or signing it. To spiff up the calls appearance, wrap thread tightly below each joint. To protect the call for years to come, spray on a light coating or two of polyurethane.

(Michael Pendley DIY tips/photo) Title: Step 8, Calling Tips:

how to make a turkey trumpet call

Step 8: Place the mouthpiece against your firmly closed lips and cup your hands over the trumpet’s large end to make a call. Inhale sharply to make a kissing sound. Dont worry if you dont sound like a turkey on your first attempt. Keep practicing. Try different hand and mouth positions until you get it dialed in.

(Michael Pendley calling tips; Cheryl Pendley photo) Title: The Finished Yelper:

how to make a turkey trumpet call

Building your own turkey call, then using it to lure in a gobbler, is a satisfying deal.

Go here for tips on making a wingbone turkey call.

Editors note: This post was first published April 12, 2016.

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What size is a turkey trumpet call?

These calls measure 4 3/4″ long and use the same interchangeable mouthpiece as all of our regular trumpets. Small enough to fit in your pocket, but big on sound…. The Sliding Trumpet extends an extra 1 3/4″ in length to give the infinite tones of yelps from a young hen to an old gobbler…

Who makes the best trumpet turkey calls?

Ellis, who owns and operates AGE Trumpets, took two of the highest honors at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s annual Grand National Callmaking Competition last year. He won first place in trumpets and the coveted Tom Turpin Award for best in class.

What is a trumpet turkey call?

The turkey trumpet call sounds like a wild turkey hen. When the trumpet is mastered the turkey hen will call the gobbler, aka longbeards, Tom turkey, strutters, and the wild turkey will come running to the hen sound. Because the hen can yelp, cluck, or cry the trumpet sounds authentic.

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