In some situations, you must reach out to turkeys with extra-loud calling. Here’s how the author brings the noise.
Ordinarily, I’m not an aggressive turkey caller. My initial approach is to work a gobbler with basic here-I-am hen yelps. I realize, however, a change in tactics is sometimes necessary. And during some circumstances, an increase in volume can save the day.
Essentially, you can call louder than usual with any friction or air-operated call. However, some types produce sounds that carry farther than others. One of my favorites for high-volume situations is a high-pitched boat-paddle-style box call. Others include glass, crystal and anodized aluminum pots, which work nicely. I believe a traditional gray slate call does not reach out as well. That doesn’t mean it won’t carry far enough for the situation, however.
When I mentioned the gist of this column to custom call maker Pat Strawser of Pennsylvania, he told me there are several kinds of slate. What he called red slate is as good or better than glass for reaching out. He also pointed out what should be obvious but sometimes is not: How you hold any pot affects the sound it produces. Rest it on your palm and it will be subdued. Hold it with your fingers and it will be higher-pitched and carry farther.
When I consider the need for high-volume calling, several scenarios come to mind. One occurs when you need to call over the rough-and-tumble noise of runoff-fed streams, big or small, which hunters often encounter in spring. The noise of running water can drown out the sounds of turkeys and hunters trying to find them.
In such situations, calling loudly is usually a necessity, and where you call from is equally important. My approach is to call from a high place — a bench or ridge — above the stream, where the sound of running water is muted somewhat. That way, a gobbler can hear the calls on the far side and, in turn, I can hear his reply over the rushing water. If the turkey is alone and anxious, he might sail across the divide. That’s happened to me more than once, especially late in the season, when most hens are nesting.
A strong wind also requires reach-out calls that can be heard for a distance. Although you might hear a longbeard upwind every time he gobbles, that might not be true if he’s downwind. When it’s windy and you know there are turkeys in an area, the best approach is to call loudly, sit tight for a time and stay alert in case a tom you haven’t heard comes looking.
Last, locating turkeys in big country might require you to use turkey calls with above-average carrying distance. In such situations, I take a position overlooking a fair amount of territory, where a distant turkey can hear my calls. Again, it’s best to stay put and listen carefully for a while after calling. Even a far-off gobble might be the hint that makes your day.