Sweet hen yelps float from your turkey call, soft and pure. A booming gobble follows. Action is intense — and sometimes intimidating to children and new turkey hunters. However, friction calls can help beginners find their way into our grand hunting tradition.
You push it. You pull it. It makes turkey sounds. Tongue-in-cheek, some hunters refer to these as “idiot boxes.” That’s an unfair assertion, as push-pull calls (also called push-pins) require proper tuning and calling tactics. Most run on a bent wire controlling plunger tension. The plunger moves the friction surface across the fixed striker.
Calling tip: Palm a push-pull call and run it with an index finger. You can also stroke the plunger up into the box. Some folks affix them to gun barrels and by positioning the plunger’s tip on your bent knee at a tree setup, you can move the push-pull call up and down to make clucks, yelps and purrs.
Box calls are user-friendly. Attached with a hinge screw, the paddle (lid) sits atop a slender, rectangular and most-often wooden box, with gently arched sounding-board sides. The lid’s length extends to form a front handle, held when calling. By running the paddle’s bottom against the box call’s side edges, you can make the entire turkey vocabulary (including gobbles and kee-kees).
Hand a child or beginner a box call without instruction and most will immediately begin working the lid against the side edges. That’s where learning begins.
Calling tip: Teach novice hunters how to hold the box call and run the paddle. Have them imitate your yelping cadence. And then, in a live situation, with spring hens making turkey talk, let beginners take over the calling to practice mimicking the sounds. Fall turkey hunts also offer great tutorials from vocal autumn flocks.
Pots and Pegs
Can you write with a pencil? If so, you can run a striker on a pot call. A striker, also called a peg, is a tapered hand-held dowel or rod with a rounded tip. You move it across the pot’s surface to make turkey vocalizations. Striking surfaces include slate, glass, aluminum and other manmade materials. Pegs include wood, glass, carbon, plastic and others.
Calling tip: Keep the striker tip on the call surface. Draw little ovals and circles for yelps. Practice your calling cadence. To make clucks, pluck he striker off the surface. For purrs, drag the peg across it.
Passing It On
“That’s yours to keep,” my dad said, handing me the homemade corncob striker and slate. A Pennsylvania teenager then, I called in some of my first wild turkeys with it. This year, after the mentoring is done, pass a turkey call along to the young or new hunter you’ve introduced to our tradition. Friction calls are good for beginners. Competence comes with time. Listen with a smile when the turkey hunter you mentored retells the story of calling in a gobbler on his or her own.
— Steve Hickoff