Let's go ahead and start here: no single turkey call works 100 percent of the time. As much as you may swear by your box call, it doesn't mean it's going to work for you every time you go out. You never know how a gobbler will react from day to day. This is why there are so many different kinds of calls on the market. Every call allows you to alter the call just a little, from a cluck to a purr, and everywhere in between.
The three most common calls — box, pot and striker, and diaphragm calls — are some of the most popular, and for good reason.
To be fair, there are many kinds of turkey box calls out there, but the paddle-shaped box call is one of the most timeless. They've been around for a long time, and they've proven themselves to work. One of the hands-down best qualities of a box call is its volume. Because of its shape — that is, a box — the clucks it produces can be heard from way out, drawing in gobblers from as far as they can hear.
Remember, though, it's not all about the volume. Box calls aren't just loud, they can be as soft as you're able to make them. They're also capable of a wide variety of calls — not just the yelps — but that can take a lot of practice.
Box calls really only have one downside: They rely on their materials, chalk and wood, to work. If either of them gets wet from the hunting conditions, they may not be as effective. But again, that's why having more than one call is ideal.
Diaphragm (Mouth) Call
These calls, sometimes called mouth diaphragm turkey calls, are incredibly popular these days. They fit easily in your mouth and only use air, not friction, to call in the bird, so water doesn't affect them. They're incredibly affordable, and that's good because they each produce a different call. From clucks to cackles to purrs, you may have a group of ten or more diaphragm calls in your pockets, and because they're small, that's just fine.
Because they don't require any movement, you can stay focused on the gobbler, keep both hands on your gun, and see whether your call is doing anything to him. Diaphragm calls aren't as loud as most friction calls, but they can still be really effective if you know how to use them.
This is the downside to them: They take a long time to learn how to use correctly. Even a lot of seasoned hunters still don't know how to use a diaphragm call well. That's not to scare you away from using them. In fact, if you put the time into learning how to use them, they may become one of the most effective calls in your pack. Just be prepared to practice.
Pot and Striker (Friction Call)
Pot and striker calls — also known as pot and peg calls and friction calls – are usually the first for new hunters to learn. With the least amount of practice needed, new hunters can make realistic calls to get the attention of gobblers. They use friction, like a box call, but come in two pieces and may take up a little less space. Both the strikers and the pots come in many different materials, and each have their own pros and cons. Many hunters will carry pots in a couple materials and up to four different strikers with them to create a good variety of clucks and purrs.
Obviously some pot and striker calls have the same downsides as box calls — if their materials get wet, they're less effective. But because there are so many materials, some are still effective regardless if they're wet or not. The only other downside is the movement required to make them work. If you're in a gobbler's line of vision — and if you're using the call right, you probably will be — he'll see you.
The best arsenal of calls for a turkey hunter is a variety. Learn to use several and carry a couple with you. And most of all, practice them when you aren't in the field. Too many poor calls can lead a bird to be call-shy, and none of us want that.
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