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Tuesday, 15 April 2014  |  Ashley

Making custom wild turkey calls is as much of an art as it is a science.  My obsession with turkey hunting has lead me down the long path of making the calls that we use to lure that tom from the branch, to within spitting distance. 

The first thing we will look at is the material that will make the body of the call.  There are almost endless choices out there for call bodies, but most of what you are going to see is wood.  Some of the more common choices are domestic species like maple, walnut, and cherry, or exotic woods such as rosewood, jatoba, and mahogany.  Bigger companies will often use a poly or plastic molded body for pot calls.  I have also seen solid surface and metal materials used for both box calls and pot calls.

Each material of the body of the call will alter the sound of the call.  Soft woods will have softer tone. Hard woods and dense material such as acrylic will have a tighter, brighter tone.  Metals, as you can imagine, will have that sharp metallic sound.

Pot calls are the ultimate in science experiments for the call maker.  There are several different friction surfaces to choose from slate, glass, crystal, aluminum, copper, and titanium are some of the most common.  Soundboards, which are just under the surface have just as plentiful of choices, like wood, slate, glass, and acrylics.  Again, same sound rules apply, softer material, softer sounds, and so on.  This is where custom call makers can  truly soar above the production line calls.  A good callmaker can utilize the variables in surfaces and soundboards to tune a call to a customer's desired tone...You want a really sweet, soft purring pot call?  Go with slate over wood.  Looking for something bright, snappy, and ultra-realistic? Copper or Titanium over glass is just the ticket.

The only other variable in pot calls is the striker itself.  Wood or acrylic, tip shape, and weight of the upper part of the striker play a major role in what sounds are brought out of a pot call.  If you only had one pot call, but several different styles of strikers, you would still have a great variance of “hen sounds.”

An often overlooked aspect of using the calls that have gone through extreme scrutiny by the maker to a great sounding and looking call,  is conditioning and maintenance.   Keep box call lids chalked.  I keep chalk in a ziplock baggy, with another gallon ziplock inside, to throw a box call into to keep dry when it rains.   Also in that bag, are green and red scotch bright pads for pot call surface, and striker conditioning, along with some 100 and 220 grit sand paper for strikers, metal, and glass surfaces.  Keep them clean and dry, and your calls will consistently sound great.


John Buchin is the owner of Crooked Talon Game Calls.  John is a self-admitted obsessed turkey hunter who makes his home in Southwest Michigan.  In addition to his game call business, John is a field staff member for Hawke Optics and Real Avid.  He can be found on twitter @jbuchin3