As the days grow warmer and the leaves start to bud, turkey hunters everywhere gear up for the spring season. One of the most exciting aspects of this time of year is when you can call in a mature gobbler. The thrill of the hunt gets intense when a big tom responds to your call, and it's a feeling that never gets old.
If you're new to turkey hunting, don't worry – learning how to use a slate call is easy. Turkey hunters can use this versatile tool to create every type of sound needed to bring a gobbler in close. A slate call consists of a pot and striker. The pot is made from wood or plastic and holds a slate, crystal, glass, or aluminum surface. Pots and strikers are available in various woods to customize the sounds.
So if you're looking to add a little excitement to your next turkey hunt, try using a slate call. You never know – you might just bring in a big old tom!
Practice making turkey sounds with your slate call! Before starting, use sandpaper or a Scotch Brite pad to prep the slate's surface. Most slate calls come with a small piece of sandpaper or scratchpad to get you started.
Here's a video from our team that walks you through some of the patterns that you'll need to know to use your pot call effectively:
How to prep your pot call and make realistic turkey sounds:
First, don't sand in a circular motion- that'll create swirls on the surface. Instead, sand back and forth to create straight lines. Then, use your striker against the grain you created to make realistic turkey sounds. Once you've got your call ready, it's time to practice!
1. Hold the pot with your non-dominant hand, using the tips of your fingers on its outer rim. The sound comes from the bottom of the pot, so you'll muffle the sound if you rest the pot in your palm.
2. Hold the striker as you would a pencil in your dominant hand and angle it at about 45 degrees to the slate's surface. You'll produce higher-pitched sounds if you grip the striker toward the tip. If you hold the striker higher, you'll make deeper sounds. Most people find the sweet spot about 1½ inches from the striker's tip.
Pro tip: Don't lift your striker off the surface when calling. Keeping it pressed against the surface helps prevent unintentional sounds and produces better sounds.
This typical sound is made by hens, the female turkeys. Hens yelp in spring to communicate with toms or gobblers, the male turkeys. To make a yelp, apply light pressure with the striker while making small, tight ovals with its tip. A larger oval produces sounds more like those of a jake or tom yelp.
If a yelp means "hello," a cluck means "HELLO!" Hens cluck to get a tom's attention, which makes the cluck a great call when hunting. Hens usually make several clucks in quick succession. To make a cutt, apply pressure and snap the striker toward you. If you make unintentional squeaks, don't sweat it. Turkeys do the same thing when cutting.
Just as cats purr when content, turkeys purr while feeding and feeling secure. This soft vocalization is great for coaxing skeptical toms. To complete the illusion of feeding turkeys, scratch nearby leaves with a stick in between your soft purrs. Next, apply light pressure and drag the striker tip in a straight line to make a purr. Once you master this call, make a sequence of purrs by changing the striker's direction.
The best way to learn about turkey sounds is to listen to them. You can hear these calls and many others on the National Wild Turkey Federation's website. Click here to listen.