Attend any hunting show, pull a turkey pro away from their booth and ask, “If you had one call to go into the turkey woods with, what would it be?” If you get far enough away from their sponsor’s booth, 90 percent will say…a box call.
Think about it, why do call companies heavily promote mouth calls? Simple, they wear out, they tear and you lose them. I’ll say it—it’s about the money and box calls are not the way to make a lot of cash. Once you buy say two of them that you love, most guys don’t buy a new one until it’s lost or stepped on.
Now, you can get lucky with a diaphragm call, but mouth calls are deceptively challenging to use. In my humble opinion they work well for a few non-professional hunters. Try listening to someone who fancies himself a great mouth caller from 10 feet, where he will probably sounds fine. Walk 60 yards away, and he’ll resonate like the echoes of an interplanetary barking dog that could be mistaken for the return of Godzilla. Frequently, mouth calls just don’t sound like turkeys.
Can you kill turkey with a mouth call? Absolutely. Especially in close and quiet (the best use for the average hunter), but you will rarely call one in from a mile away. If you do, the bird is what many guides refer to a “car door turkey.” A bird so jacked-up when you slam the truck door they gobble and run to you. That may happen two or three days of the season and only if there is an impressive population of 2-year-olds. But hey, mouth call or not, we all deserve as many of those we are “genius” turkey hunter days as possible.
Consider spending more time with a classic, it may ease some of those humiliating days in the turkey woods. If you really want to head to the woods with something that will kill a turkey, take a box call. Now I would never enter the woods without a slate call (maybe even two) but the question was…“if you had to choose one call.”
I carry at least three box calls in my turkey vest. Here are three of my favorites.
Lynch/65th Anniversary Fool Proof Box Call
This anniversary call is built exactly as my 35-year-old call. The new call sounds so good I’ve retired my antique box to my display shelf. The Fool Proof has a laser engraved walnut lid set on a fixed pivot. Both sides of the box are constructed from mahogany. One side acts as an automatic stop, making this call literally “foolproof”; the other side produces the perfect sounds of a hen. With its 65 years history, it would be no stretch to say that more turkeys have been seduced by this call than any other. $75.(229-226-5793; www.lynchworldwide.com)
Woods Wise/Mystic No Chalk
A call that not only works when completely wet, it sounds great when soaked. However, the reason this call has found a place in my vest is because of the impressive tone when it’s dry. One of my absolute go-to calls in any situation, the Mystic is built from walnut and coated with a gritty black surface that keeps it working wet without chalk. $26. (800-735-8182;www.woodswise.com)
Cooper Brothers-3 Master Box Call
Handmade in Pennsylvania from grade A northern sycamore and walnut, this call produces a higher pitched tone than my other calls and will often solicit a response when some boxes won’t. Great finish and beautifully detailed, this call has a very limited production run and could easily be sold for more than its suggested price. You can occasionally find these on eBay. $50. (570-584-4612)
You can care for a box calls with a simple damp rag and some brown or other waxless chalk. So, keep plenty on hand. Chalk the call before putting it away. Never, ever, sand or use steel wool on a box call.