Talking turkey in Pennsylvania: Plenty of choices for calling all toms
When it comes to turkey vests, I tend to have the same problem that occurs with my fishing vest — too many options! But they wouldn’t design vests with so many pockets if they weren’t intended to be filled, now would they? Afterall, you never really know what fishing tackle you’ll need until you need it, and the same can be said for turkey calls during spring gobbler season.
There certainly are plenty of call options available for turkey hunters and having a diverse selection of calls often proves beneficial based on the conditions of the hunt and the temperament of the birds on any given day. While carrying multiple calls adds a bit of bulk and weight to your hunting attire, having plenty of options is never to be taken lightly.
Here’s a quick rundown of some popular turkey calls and the situations best suited for using them.
Pot-and-striker style friction calls
In my mind, this is the most effective and easiest to use call if it is conditioned right and you spend a little time practicing. With this call you can produce clucks, yelps, cuts and purrs, simply by working a wooden striker against the surface of the call.
Pot calls come in various mediums, such as slate, glass, crystal, ceramic and even aluminum — all of which produce their own unique sounds. The key is to keep that surface scratched up good with some light sandpaper or steel wool and maintain a clean, dry striker to get the crisp, sweet-sounding friction you desire.
I love to start out with soft, subtle tree yelps on an old slate call and utilize the other calls if a little more “sass” is desired to get the birds fired up, or simply to offer something different. Acrylic strikers have been developed for use on rainy days, but it’s tough to get a quality sound out of a wet call, and nothing beats a bone-dry hardwood striker.
Traditional wooden box calls
I know of certain hunters who have terrific success using nothing but an old wooden box call. Again, this call can produce clucks, cuts, purrs and yelps by producing friction, only this time from a curved lid on the sidewall lips of a rectangular box chamber instead of an angled wooden striker on a flat surface.
Box calls may take a bit more practice to master, and they have a tendency of “chirping” in your pocket when walking if the lid is not firmly secured, but they produce excellent sound, especially when some chalk is applied to the contact surface for extra bite.
Box calls are great on windy days, as their internal design seems to produce a bit louder cadence than most pot and striker calls, and there’s just something pure about a maple or cherry produced cut that turkeys love.
Diaphragm mouth calls
Diaphragm calls win the award for least likely to get you busted, as they free up your hands for less movement when a gobbler approaches at close range. Not only can they help you stay undetected, but there have been days when nothing else prompted a gobble until I popped in a mouth call and gave a few yelps, a result of their unique sound.
This call produces yelps and other vocalizations by forcing air from your diaphragm past latex film as the call is sandwiched between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. By far the toughest to master, it has some terrific perks for those willing to learn.
For starters, hunters can keep a variety of mouth calls with different notches cut into them. Some popular diaphragm call cuts are the V cut, double V, ghost cut, batwing and other combos — all of which have slightly different tones and pitches. It’s easy to interchange these if a bird hangs up or goes silent and offer an alternative sound to reengage interest.
There are plenty of other calls out there, such as scratch boxes, wing-bones, gobble shakers, locators, and pushpins to name a few, but the three aforementioned calls are by far the most popular for filling turkey hunting vests to capacity.
It doesn’t hurt to have a variety of calls you’re comfortable using tucked away in your turkey talk toolkit, because you just never know what the magic winner on your next hunt may be.
Preparation is the key to success, so if there’s an extra pocket in your vest, you might as well fill it!