Spring turkey hunting is a lot of fun, shaking off those winter blues and getting back into the field. It’s also a great way to introduce young turkey hunters and beginners into the wide world of hunting traditions. Many places also have a fall turkey season, but when most of us think turkey hunting, we’re thinking spring. You can use everything from a .410 bore up to a 10-gauge shotgun, and if you don’t have specialized turkey loads, then regular old birdshot shotshells will work fine as long as you bring them in close and go for the headshot.
No matter what kind of load you’re using, you’ll get the best patterns with Turkey Choke Tubes that are specialized for the job. Want to learn more about shotgun chokes? Check out our Choke Tube Guides to read more on the subject.
Game calls will help you get them in range of your turkey decoys and get them curious enough to wander in and see what’s going on. Bringing them in close is what this article’s all about, so if you want to get started, read on!
There are 3 basic kinds of turkey calls on the market: mouth calls, box calls, and pot calls. Pot calls are also called slate calls, even if the material is glass or aluminum, and those are what we’ll be focusing on today. Turkey box calls are also simple and pretty easy to get the hang of, and mouth calls are by far the most difficult to master. To get started, I went with the Primos Hunting Turkey Caller Starter Pack because it includes a pot call, mouth call, and box call.
How do you use a slate call for beginners?
The best slate turkey call results are gained by learning how to properly hold the two elements: the pot call and the striker. These are the first things to get down when you’re learning how to use a slate turkey call.
The pot is the foundation. Learning a proper and comfortable grip that you can practice and get with consistency is key. Hold the pot in your non-dominant hand loosely, you don’t need to white-knuckle it. You don’t need all five fingers either, some callers only use their thumb and middle finger. Keep the bottom of the call off of your palm so the sounds can properly resonate with the body of the pot call. The tips of your fingers should be just slightly protruding above the top of the rim. Don’t let your fingertips touch the slate, or you’ll have to recondition it (more on that below).
Hold the striker like you would hold a pencil, about an inch up from the tip. You’ll be working from the outside edge of the slate surface. Some people work from the top of the pot call and some from the bottom, although most instructions you’ll see will only show it at the top of the slate. It’s what works best for you, your hands, and getting the best sounds. Either way, working on your fundamentals is the first step. It’s important to anchor your striker hand resting on part of the hand holding the turkey call. This will allow you more control and consistency. You want the tip of the striker to be at a 45-degree angle to the slate surface, but able to rotate up to 90-degree for certain calls. You’ll also be putting different amounts of pressure on the striker, so make sure you have a good range of movement and aren’t just pinned down to one spot on the slate. Practice your grip so that you’re automatically holding the pot and striker the same way every time, with the same anchor point. You’ll probably find that your grip will adjust as you get better, and that’s okay. If you’re just not getting results, sometimes all it comes down to is how you’re holding the pot call and striker.
How do you run a slate call?
Once you have the grip in a fairly comfortable position, it’s time to start learning how to do the four basic calls: yelps, clucks, purrs, and cutts. This is where your grip on the pot call and striker will adjust as you get a better feel for how the two work in concert. When calling, it’s most important that you don’t take the tip of the striker off the call, in order to get more natural sounds. It doesn’t make any noise if it’s not traveling against the grain, and it allows you to get those consistent noises by keeping the tip in the same area so you can consistently repeat the calls.
How do you yelp on a slate turkey call?
Starting at the edge and moving to the inside, quickly move the striker downward in about a half-inch to one-inch oval. As you do this, the tip will naturally fluctuate in angle from the slate to produce the variation and back-end of the yelp.
How do you cluck on a slate turkey call?
Clucks are a deceptively simple call. Just use light pressure and pop it toward the inside of the slate from the outer rim. This should only be about an eighth of an inch per cluck, and you’re still going to keep the striker on the slate surface the whole time.
How do you purr on a slate turkey call??
To purr on a slate call, you’re going to go slower and longer than a cluck. The stroke will still be a straight line toward the inside of the slate surface, and about three-eighths to a half-inch. If you’re not getting the desired sound, or want to try more nuance, try stroking the striker in a J-shape. Again, keep that striker on the surface!
How do you cutt on a slate turkey call??
A cutt will use the same edge-to-surface line but will be a jerking motion (while keeping that striker on the slate surface) back and forth about an eighth to a quarter inch.
How do you make a slate call sound better?
Make sure you condition the surface and blow off any excess dust before calling. You’ll need to do this frequently, so keep some sandpaper with you if your included conditioning pad wears out. You’ll also want to roughen up the tip of the striker by pressing it straight down onto the conditioning pad or sandpaper and twisting it back and forth. When you condition the slate surface, don’t go in circles like you’re waxing a car. Instead, go back and forth in a horizontal line. What you’re doing is scratching lines across it that will provide the necessary friction to make noises. When you see the slate showing a lot of marks from where you’ve been calling, a water spot, or the dreaded fingerprint, repeat the conditioning process on the slate surface and you’ll be right back into the gobbler game.
What is the difference between a slate call and a glass call?
The primary difference between a glass and slate turkey call is the calling surface. They’re both pot calls, and they both take practice. There are also pot calls available with aluminum, ceramic, crystal, and various other surfaces. There are even two-sided calls that have different materials on each side. Slate calls are usually more forgiving and easier for beginners to get the hang of. Once you’re fairly confident with one, try another kind of surface. You can also switch up your game with different kinds of strikers including wood, carbon, and other materials. Being more versatile can only help you out in the field, and the more tools you can use to get those gobblers, the better.
Which turkey call is better slate or glass?
Trick question! It’s a matter of preference and what works for you. In fact, there are plenty of turkey callers that will carry both as humidity affects glass less than slate. Once that early morning moisture burns off, they’ll switch to another call. This also allows you to alternate your calls to sound like more than one bird. A lot of turkey hunters like how sound carries a further distance with a glass pot call, but you don’t want ol’ Tom waiting for the ladies to come to him. That’s where a slate call has an advantage because it allows for softer calls that will get him interested by thinking she’s a little further off and get him to come to her and show off his strut or duke it out with any other potential suitors.
The most important thing you can do to get better at turkey calling is practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more. You can find great real recordings of all the noises turkeys make at the NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) website, so you can match your calls to what a wild turkey sounds like. I know I’m getting better when my dog comes downstairs to investigate the turkey she can hear but can’t smell. Your significant other may not be as thrilled about slate turkey calls as you are, so you might need to go outside. Check your local Fish and Wildlife regulations, in most places it’s not illegal to call turkeys in the off-season. This is often referred to as “preseason calling” and most hunters don’t see any harm in it. If you live somewhere that turkeys wander into your yard, it’s a great time to grab your slate call and give it a go. If you can get them calmed down and feeding normally, you know you’re on the right track. So put in the time, gear up, and go get some gobblers!