Turkey Calls — To Infinity and Beyond!

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Turkey calls come in an almost infinite number of designs, most of which are pretty simple — simple enough that you can probably create one that will fool a gobbler.
Turkey calls come in an almost infinite number of designs, most of which are pretty simple — simple enough that you can probably create one that will fool a gobbler.
Contributing Writer Steve Sorensen

“To infinity and beyond” is the classic line from the Toy Story movie. But four years before Buzz came along, Eli Maor (a historian of mathematics) wrote a book with that title. It was about the cultural history of infinity (whatever that is). So maybe the movie plagiarized Maor’s title.

What does it have to do with turkey calls? A lot, it turns out, and you don’t have to be an egghead mathematician to get where I’m going. The answer may not be obvious, but it’s simple. We have seemingly infinite variety of turkey calls available to the hunter, and the end isn’t in sight.

When I was a teenager my dad bought a Lynch World Champion turkey call. I still have that old box from “Birmingham 9, Alabama,” and it still works. Some people think it’s the father of them all, but somewhere in its past are some grand daddies. And they’ve begotten hundreds, even thousands, of box calls in the last century. Box calls continue to fly off their roosting spots on store shelves, each promising to fulfill a hunter’s dream of luring a wary old gobbler into shooting range.

The classic box call continues to make the dream come true year after year. It also continues to inspire resourceful turkey hunters to develop new designs. Right beside that old Lynch, my collection includes some calls most hunters have never heard of. I have a Wiser call, a 1960s design created by a Mr. E. L. Wiser of Clarendon, PA (later of West Decatur, PA). I have his brother J. W.’s invention too, a scratchbox/slate combo that’s the smallest in my collection.

I also have a call made by a local Amish man. It looks like a conventional box call, but it has two soundboards on each side. Why? So that each side produces a clear double note the hen turkey often makes. Very clever, and it requires a high degree of precision manufacturing.

The 2020 season will be the tenth for my own invention, a little scratchbox that’s as deadly on gobblers as any I’ve ever used. While making my own call I discovered a number of secrets that not only improved my call, but made me a better caller.

The point here is not that my call is better than any other call I’ve used (although I’m not the only one who thinks it is). The point is that an ordinary turkey hunter can put a few tools to work on a few pieces of scrap wood and come up with something completely new. Like I did.

When I first gathered up some scraps of wood and began cutting, drilling and sawing back in the summer of 2009, I made several different scratchbox designs. I tested various woods, plus other materials, and finally settled on a good one I could make for myself and some friends. One of the unique things about it is that it has two sound chambers inside. That gives it more resonance than other scratchboxes have. People want them and, as of now, I’ve made about 700.

My greatest satisfaction isn’t that I make a dandy little scratchbox call that looks as good as it sounds. Nor is it that other hunters want my call. My greatest satisfaction in turkey hunting is that I have the ability to fool a mature gobbler with a call I created myself. It makes turkey hunting far more enjoyable than it ever was before.

Can every turkey hunter can do what I’ve done. Probably not, but the ones who are serious about turkey hunting can. And for thousands of hunters that has been the path to greater turkey hunting satisfaction.

You have a couple of months before turkey season arrives, so if you have even a slight knack for tinkering, try making your own turkey call. I’m sure my call will take me to the end of my turkey hunting days, and if there is turkey hunting in the beyond, maybe I’ll use it there too.

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.

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Steve Sorensen
Steve Sorensen of Russell, PA is an award-winning outdoor writer whose column, The Everyday Hunter®, offers hunting tips, strategies, and insights on how to think about hunting. His byline has appeared in the nation’s top hunting magazines including Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Deer & Deer Hunting, Pennsylvania Game News, Fur-Fish-Game, North American Whitetail, Bear Hunting Magazine and more. He contributes regular website content to Legendary Whitetails and Havalon Knives and is a field editor for Deer Hunters Online. Steve is also in demand as an event speaker, presenting programs on do-it-yourself Alaska moose hunting, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, and eastern coyotes, with new programs coming. E-mail him at EverydayHunter@gmail.com to invite him to speak at your next sportsmen’s dinner (or to tell him where your best hunting spot is).