Learn about different turkey call materials that offer different turkey sounds
Soundboard, plating surface, striker – all offer options in tone choice
Learning the sound variations and practicing tone undulations with your own call, it’s the MOST FUN and will help you learn the turkey calling ropes
By Jason Houser
Turkey calls are at the top of the list to be a successful turkey hunter. Walk through the doors of the NWTF convention, and you will see more people selling turkey calls than just about anything else.
A fun and inexpensive project during the off-season is to make a pot call all your own. To make things even better would be to make your own pot call and then kill a turkey with it. Several companies sell turkey call kits, but I recently bought a kit from Brookside Game Calls that included a walnut pot, glass soundboard, slate playing surface, striker, and directions. This is a fun project you can do at home.
The materials needed are easily obtained and include:
Fine Grit sandpaper for sanding the call. I used 150 grit with excellent results.
Brookside recommends GOOP, but I used Loctite with excellent results. It is essential to make sure the glue you use is waterproof.
Oil-based polyurethane to protect the call.
Nylon Style Clamp.
When I received the call kit, the pot had some rough surfaces. We used 150 grit sandpaper until the edges were smooth.
To protect the surface, I applied a fine layer of oil-based polyurethane that I wiped on with a rag. You could also use the polyurethane from a spray can. I finished the shafts of the strikers in the same manner, but the tip end was left unfinished for better sound.
After the pot was dry, we applied a thin layer of glue to the center of the call. Center the soundboard on the soundboard standoff, then clamp the soundboard into place and allow it to dry.
Once the soundboard is dry, it is time to apply the top of your call. This can be done by either applying a bead of glue to the underside of the playing surface or apply a thin bead of glue to the rim of the call where the playing surface will sit. I chose to apply glue to the rim of the call, and it worked well.
With the playing surface of the call in place, use your clamps and allow the glue to dry for about 12 hours.
Now that you have made your very own turkey call, the only thing left to do is practice with the call until you can make realistic turkey sounds and then go hunt.
Brookside Game Calls has many kit choices to choose from. Even though I purchased a kit that had everything needed to make a call, you can purchase products separately to make the call you like. There are a variety of woods to choose from for pre-cut pots and soundboards, including all the well-accepted materials and playing surfaces such as glass, slate, aluminum, and crystal.
There are also many different kinds of wood for striker pegs and tops to choose from to complete your pot call. Another option is to purchase a kit to make a box call. It is just as fun and simple to make.
Spring gobblers like what they like. Some will shock gobble an owl hoot, crow call, even a car horn while a similar tom roosting just down the ridge won’t make a peep.
My dad and I used to hunt a small farm that held lots of turkeys. Since he was in his early 90’s, dad mostly drove around while I hunted on foot. A particular gobbler loved (or hated) the sound of his old Dodge diesel truck and gobbled voraciously every time dad drove near. Some locator call huh?
When trying to convince a spring gobbler to go against its nature and approach a hen, you have to find its hot button and make a sound that the mating bird cannot resist. Since “The Dodge Truck” call works in very limited circumstances, savvy hunters carry a variety of callers and use them singularly or as a duet to light a tom’s fire. Your turkey vest needs to have at least three kinds of calls: box, pot, and diaphragm, because each has unique characteristics that apply in special situations. Hunters Specialties (H.S.) makes a wide variety of callers and here’s a good roundup of what’s sure to suck in a gobbler like a Star Trek tractor beam.
Box callers are easy to operate and the sound carries well. At times in late season, their unique tone will lure gobblers that have become used to other callers. The new B-Line and Final Roost box calls from H.S. Strut® give hunters two great options for calling in a spring gobbler.
The B-Line Call is constructed with a walnut paddle and poplar box for creating great high-pitched hen sounds. The call is lightweight and compact. Finger grooves on the box provide a secure grip while calling. The Final Roost Call has a walnut paddle with a medium-sized Poplar box to reproduce raspy hen vocals. The box is contoured for a comfortable, secure grip while calling. Both the B-Line and Final Roost Calls feature a waterproof paddle and box edge for calling in all weather conditions
Whether glass or slate, pot callers are perfect for making precise, soft, hen sounds. When you sneak close to a roost, the tom is thundering above you, holding a striker in your hand (like a pencil when you were a kid) gives the extra confidence to make the call sound exactly as intended. Pot calls have great tone variation and you can use them to locate by loudly cutting or to entice those final steps with soft purrs.
The new Sweet Suzie Snood call from Hunters Specialties™ produces the high pitched hen sounds that drive gobblers crazy with plenty of volume to bring them in from long distances. The Sweet Suzie Snood is a compact call with a frosted glass over glass surface. The call is ready to run right out of the package and comes with a carbon striker which works great in wet weather conditions.
A skilled caller may get by using a diaphragm caller exclusively, yet this takes a lot of practice and you can literally overtax your oral muscles by calling so frequently. The diaphragm is the most difficult of the three main categories to run and some hunters just can’t master its use. Personally, I love the Tone Trough diaphragms because they operate effortlessly and I can produce quality sounds with little practice.
Unlike box and pot callers, one size does not fit all in the diaphragm world. Since our mouths and palates differ, you may need to try a variety of callers to find one that makes a good fit. Even my mother agrees that I have a big mouth, yet I find the smaller, more flexible callers work best for me. HS offers a variety of diaphragms with the following a few examples:
The Pro 2 Pack includes the Cutt’n 2.5 and Split “V” II for more experienced callers. Beginning turkey hunters can benefit from the Tone Trough Turkey Tutor package, which includes an instructional DVD, along with the Cutt’n 2.5, Raspy Old Hen and Split “V” II calls.
The new Undertaker diaphragm calls have an aluminum frame which can be easily adjusted for a custom fit to a hunter’s palate. The calls feature Infinity Latex® for the most consistent tone available. Three and four-reed models are available with selected cuts to create a wide range of realistic hen sounds. Each call also comes with the new HS Strut Diaphragm Call Clip, which attaches to the bill of a hunter’s cap and holds the diaphragm call in place for quick and easy access.
Remember, gobblers like what they like. If one call doesn’t work, switch to another call. If all else fails, try using two callers at once such as the box and a diaphragm.
When two honeys are hailing at the same time, few toms can resist.
Sound Variation, Turkey Call Options, Cost
For the full line of Hunter Specialties callers, visit www.hunterspec.com. The H.S. Strut® Premium Flex™ Calls come in a variety of cuts and reed configurations to help both beginning and experienced callers be successful.
The H.S. Strut Premium Flex™ frame uses Infinity Latex® for consistency and durability. Each call is precision built and stretched to create all of the sounds of a wild turkey. Two, three and four-reed versions are available as well as a line of small frame calls for junior callers, women, or anyone with a small palate.
Premium Flex Calls are packaged individually as well as in three and four packs. New for 2016 is the Legends 4-pack with an instructional DVD featuring tips and tricks for being successful this spring. It includes the Power Cutter, Power V, Deep Cut and Fang calls.
Premium Flex Calls sell individually for $5.99, three packs for $10.99 and the Legends Four Pack sells for $16.99.
The new Sweet Suzie Snood call from Hunters Specialties™ produces the high pitched hen sounds that drive gobblers crazy with plenty of volume to bring them in from long distances.
The Sweet Suzie Snood is a compact call with a frosted glass over glass surface. The call is ready to run right out of the package and come with a carbon striker which works great in wet weather conditions. The Sweet Suzie Snood call also comes with a rougher pad and sells for a suggested retail price of $9.99.
Designed with high quality components and backed by years of hunting experience, the new Undertaker line of premium calls from H.S. Strut® will help hunters put their tag on a gobbler this spring. The Undertaker series includes a box call, pan call and four new aluminum frame diaphragm calls.
The Undertaker box call is constructed of engineered laminate wood for increased stability and durability. The call features waterproof chalk on friction surfaces for hunting in any weather conditions and the call is hand tuned to produce perfect high volume hen tones on either side.
The Undertaker glass friction call features engineered wood in both the pan and striker for increased stability. It has a ready to play frosted glass surface over the new patent pending Aluma-Tune™ sound board with hand tuned cuts for the most realistic hen sounds possible.
The new Undertaker diaphragm calls have an aluminum frame which can be easily adjusted for a custom fit to a hunter’s palate. The calls feature Infinity Latex® for the most consistent tone available. Three and four-reed models are available with selected cuts to create a wide range of realistic hen sounds. Each call also comes with the new HS Strut Diaphragm Call Clip, which attaches to the bill of a hunter’s cap and holds the diaphragm call in place for quick and easy access. The new Undertaker Box Call sells for a suggested retail of $39.99. The Undertaker Pan Call for $39.99 and the diaphragm calls for $12.99 each.
Hunters Specialties’ new line of H.S. Strut® Tone Trough diaphragm calls are great for beginners as well as experienced callers. The calls feature a raised dome that forms a tight seal in the roof of the caller’s mouth. The Tone Trough™ creates perfect pressures for realistic hen sounds. The calls are built with a Premium Flex™ frame and Infinity Latex® for consistent tones.
H.S. Strut® Tone Trough calls come in a variety of cuts including the Split “V” II, Split “V” III, Double “D”, Cutt’n 2.5 and Raspy Old Hen. Packaging options include the Starter 2 Pack with the Raspy Old Hen and Double ”D” calls , which is great for beginning callers. The Pro 2 Pack includes the Cutt’n 2.5 and Split “V” II for more experienced callers. Beginning turkey hunters can benefit from the Tone Trough Turkey Tutor package, which includes an instructional DVD, along with the Cutt’n 2.5, Raspy Old Hen and Split “V” II calls.
Individual calls sell for a suggested retail price of $6.99. The Tone Trough 2 Packs for $10.99 and the Turkey Tutor 3-Pack with DVD for $15.99.
The new B-Line and Final Roost box calls from H.S. Strut® give hunters two great options for calling in a spring gobbler. The B-Line Call is constructed with a walnut paddle and poplar box for creating great high-pitched hen sounds. The call is lightweight and compact. Finger grooves on the box provide a secure grip while calling.
The Final Roost Call has a walnut paddle with a medium-sized Poplar box to reproduce raspy hen vocals. The box is contoured for a comfortable, secure grip while calling.
Both the B-Line and Final Roost Calls feature a waterproof paddle and box edge for calling in all weather conditions.
The B-Line Call sells for a suggested retail of $14.99 and the Final Roost for $19.99.
For more information about other Hunters Specialties products, log onto the Hunters Specialties website atwww.hunterspec.com, or call a Consumer Service Specialist at 319-395-0321.
Turkey hunters love gear and it seems we can never get enough to outsmart those un-killable toms. I once hunted a flock of Merriam’s in South Dakota that had been pursued relentlessly the week prior to my arrival. “The birds are there, but they won’t come to a call and I’ve been at them all week,” said a hunter as he packed his truck and left the camp. “Good luck!”
Since I knew where the birds roosted, I was there the next morning in the pitch dark, but instead of being greeted by a prairie sunrise, a clipper system dropped six inches of snow. Luckily, I wore a Browning Hell’s Canyon water-proof suit and a Mossy Oak vest complete with a hefty seat pillow to keep warm.
I heard the birds fly down an hour after daylight and stayed still unsure of where they would go. Ironically, I saw a flock of a dozen crest a ridge and feed toward me as I tried to sit still despite frequent shivering. About 75 yards away, the flock seemed to camp for the morning with the big tom lagging well behind. If I could nudge the flock back over the ridge where they’d come from, I could race up the hill and ambush the gobbler as it languished behind.
Popping a diaphragm caller into my mouth, I gave several soft yelps and every hen’s head went up. A few more yelps and the flock moved slowly, but deliberately up and over the hill with the old tom playing caboose.
The soft snow covered my approach and as I crested the ridge, the gobbler raised its head like a flag and no doubt knew his goose was cooked. I hate to admit that my calling actually scared turkeys away, yet I was sure the birds were ultra call shy and there was no way to lure them closer with bird sounds. Luckily, I was prepared for the weather and was thrilled to return to camp with a big tom in such challenging conditions.
As a turkey hunter you never know which gear will make the greatest difference and here are a few of my favorite pieces that have made a difference over the years.
Mossy Oak Camouflage– I’m partial to the MO brand since I’ve hunted with them almost from the pattern inception. Other patterns work well also, but be sure to have gobbler gloves with an extended cuff and a head net.
Mossberg Turkey Thug Shotgun– I use my Mossberg for deer and turkey hunting and the shotgun is short, compact, and very effective. When I have a gobbler within 40 yards, I know the deal is done.
Aimpoint Red Dot Scope– Turkeys are easy to miss and adding a red dot scope like the Aimpoint Hunter will make a tremendous difference. Aimpoint’s are military grade and ultra rugged. You can adjust the brightness of the dot and the battery is so powerful, the dot will stay illuminated for five years of constant use.
Mossy Oak Turkey Vest– A turkey vest is like the desktop of a computer, a place where you can see the tools you use most often and know where they are. If you are an adventurous hunter, you may want to check out the Alps Turkey Pack, a light, compact pack that will store gear and help carry out your turkey.
Calls– You need three types of callers. A box for long distance locating, a peg and slate for close in work, and a diaphragm to manipulate a gobbler with both hands free. Use these various calls to vary the volume and quantity of calling. If a gobbler sounds off when approaching and suddenly gets quiet, be ready to shoot as they often are looking for your location.
Shot Size– Whether you like #4, #6, or compromise with #5 shot, be sure to pattern your shotgun with each load choice. You want to especially shoot a target at 10 yards to make sure your sighting system in on line. You’ll be amazed at how small the pattern spreads at this distance.