When I first started turkey hunting back in the late 1960s I carried only one call. It was a Lynch Model 101 box call and I still have it. Today, while hunting I carry three box calls, four diaphragm calls, a slate call, a ceramic call and my favorite, a glass top pot call. The reason I carry so many is I’m never sure which call in the assortment will appeal to a gobbler on any given morning. Each call has its purpose and hunters should be aware that it often takes more than one call to get the job done.
On mornings where there is a slight breeze and the woods are noisy I rely on a box call to reach above the sound made by the wind. I can make purrs, clucks, yelps and excited cackles using any of the box calls I carry, but each serves a specific purpose. One produces a raspy hen yelp while another has the more mellow tones of a young hen. The third works in the rain and I can rely on it when the others are useless because of the weather. I love using a box call but it has a disadvantage. It requires me to move my hands and that can prove disastrous if a suspicious tom comes in quietly and is looking in my direction. Nevertheless, a good box call or two should be in every turkey hunter’s arsenal.
Pot calls get a lot of use as well, because in my opinion they produce extremely realistic purrs and clucks and they come in a wide variety of surfaces, including glass, double glass, slate, slate over glass, aluminum and even ceramic. I find a good slate call is excellent for enticing a longbeard to close the distance because I can produce soft clucks, yelps and purrs with ease. If the need for more aggressive calling arises, I'm not afraid of using it to make loud yelps and some sharp cutting.
My triple glass call has been my go-to call for years because for some reason the tone produced by the glass seems to bring in toms when all other calls fail. A pot call with an aluminum surface may be slightly more difficult for a novice to use but I’ve found a call with this type of surface will make all hen sounds, including smooth, high-pitched kee-kees along with loud popping cutts, clucks, and extremely realistic raspy high to low hen yelps.
A pot call with a ceramic surface can reproduce shrill, sassy hen yelps and cutts as well as perfect kee kees. The ceramic is extremely hard and doesn’t require conditioning and, more importantly, I can run it in wet weather.
It seems there are thousands of varieties of diaphragm or mouth calls, and for someone who knows how to use them they can be the most versatile call in a hunter’s arsenal. Mouth calls can be made with one, two, three and even four latex reeds and there is a seemingly endless variation in how they are cut and configured. For example, a single, thin-reed call can produce convincing kee-kees while a batwing cut with two to four prophylactic reeds produces a call with a clear, high yelp and a raspy finish. A mouth call with an inverted "V" cut on one side can produces shrill, raspy yelps and loud, popping cutts.
The best way to find the call that’s best suited for you is to buy several and stick with the one that works best. Beginners should keep in mind the diaphragm call will have the steepest learning curve while the box call can be taken to the woods immediately. Rest assured, all calls on the market make realistic turkey sounds and the only one that needs to be convinced is the turkey.