How to Choose Your Turkey Calls (Part 2 of 2)
by Steve Sorensen

Using Common Sense When Choosing Calls Will Pay Off When It’s Time To Switch Calls

After understanding what rules to use when choosing calls, and the reasons to switch calls, let’s get specific. What calls should you carry?

Box Calls:
Start with a box call. Box calls come in many styles and designs. Some might be easier to run. Some might be louder or softer. Some might be more durable. Box calls are great on windy days, and whenever you want to call aggressively. They reach out with lots of volume, but you can tone them down, too. Always carry at least one box call.

How to Choose Your Turkey Calls Part 2 by Steve Sorensen - Image 1

In thick morning fog, Matt Stephenson called in a hen with his
"Roll Call" and this tom followed, gobbling all the way.

If you carry a second box call, make sure it has a tone clearly distinct from the first – otherwise there’s little reason to carry two. Different types of wood, or thicker sideboards, or more length all contribute to a different sound.

Pot Calls:
What about pot calls, also called pan calls? Their popularity has risen dramatically in the last 15 years. Lots of people make them, and many are deadly effective. Originally the working surface on these calls were slate, but now they’re made from a variety of materials including ceramic, aluminum, copper, glass, plastic, and other new polymers.

Some have multiple surfaces – check out the Tripletone Flipsider from Woods Wise Calls ( On one side it has a crystal or glass surface. On the other it has two surfaces – copper and a ceramic-like material but lighter, and needs no care and maintenance. With one call, you have three distinct tones.

Another option for making different sounds on your pot calls is to test different strikers. Hunters Specialties ( offers a three-pack of strikers made from different materials, so you can test different combinations of surfaces and strikers.

Diaphragm Calls:
Then, the mouth calls, or diaphragms. These offer several advantages – the big one is you can call without movement. Another plus is that they’re comparatively inexpensive. However, since you can’t try them out in a store, you can end up spending anywhere from $4 to $10 a pop to find the ones you like. Experimenting with diaphragm calls can run your tab up fast.

How to Choose Your Turkey Calls Part 2 by Steve Sorensen - Image 2

The new Haint gobble call from Down-N-Dirty Outdoors is amazingly realistic.

Diaphragm calls come in a variety of configurations. Makers use latex reeds in varying thicknesses and with multiple layers. They also put various cuts and notches in them to create different tones. Other variables come into play, too. The variable no one talks about is the shape of your own mouth. What your buddy likes might sound completely different coming from your mouth.

Whatever calls you carry, make sure they give clearly different tones not just between calls of the same basic design, but between box calls and diaphragms, diaphragms and pot calls, pot calls and box calls.

Those three basic styles don’t cover all the calls you might need in the turkey woods. You might want to supplement your basic calls with an unconventional style. Check out “The Roll Call” (, by a callmaker named Matt Stephenson. It features a rolled surface made from brass. It operates similar to a pot call. It’s directional, and it works when wet. It’s always a good idea to carry at least one call that works wet.

Locator Calls:
Then there are locator calls. The old tried and true crow call can make a gobbler speak up when nothing else can. The barred owl call is an effective locator call at roost time or in the morning. Learn to make these calls with your voice, and you’ll travel lighter.

Other sounds can be effective locator calls, too. Peacock screams and coyote howls can scare up a gobble. So can the shrill notes of a pileated woodpecker. And of course, the slamming of a car door, or the squeaking of a fence gate. No one makes a call with those sounds yet. Maybe next year.

One more call is worth mentioning – the gobble call. Pull this out when you need to make a gobbler jealous, and when you’re certain no hunters will sneak in on you. Most are some kind of shaker tube with a diaphragm inside that vibrates from the irregular flow of air across it. This year, you can add a realistic new gobble call to your arsenal – the Haint Call from Down-N-Dirty Outdoors ( It sets a new standard for gobble calls, and you’re gonna wonder if a real gobbler is hiding inside.


About Steve Sorensen

Steve Sorensen, Outdoor WriterAward-winning outdoor writer and speaker Steve Sorensen loves the Havalon knife, and has been a fan of knives since he begged his dad for a hunting knife when he was six years old. His articles have been published in Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine, Sports Afield, and many other top magazines across the USA. Invite Steve to speak at your next sportsman’s event, and follow his writing on his website,

Click HERE to read more articles by Steve.

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