Not only are your calls vital to your success as a turkey hunter, they can also be hand-crafted works of art. But they certainly take their share of abuse season after season, especially when you’re a run-and-gun hunter putting them through their paces in a variety of environments and weather conditions. Taking the time to care for and maintain your calls can keep them bringing in gobblers and sounding great season after season. Here are some care tips for the variety of calls you keep in your vest:
General Care Tips
- Calls should be stored out in the open, not closed up long-term in a vest or rubber tote
- If your vest gets wet, be sure to take calls out and let them air dry. Never leave them in a wet vest or they’ll soak up the moisture
- Medium grit sandpaper or drywall screen can be used to scuff the surface, but I prefer a conditioning stone
- To condition with a stone, hold the conditioning stone at a slight angle to the calling surface (15 degrees) and slide the stone repeatedly back and forth with enough pressure to produce a fine white dust or powder on the surface. I prefer to condition perpendicular to the direction I will be calling—parallel to the edge of the pot rather than toward the center of the pot
- I typically condition one small area of the call; roughly one inch by one inch. This allows me to use the rest of the surface to rest my hand without disturbing the conditioned area.
- A brown Scotch-Brite pad works the best to condition slate calls. I like to condition the call side to side on the entire surface and perpendicular to the direction I will be calling
- If the aluminum surface is anodized, I like to use alcohol wipes. If it becomes too slick to use, I use brown Scotch-Brite as described above for slate calls but with lighter pressure
- Avoid sandpaper or conditioning stones, as they will remove the anodized coating from the aluminum surface
- Ceramic typically does not need to be conditioned. If needed to generate more grip, I condition ceramic in the same manner described above for crystal or glass
- Do not use sandpaper to clean the rails or paddle of a box call as that will change the arc profile and change the sound of the call
- If you need to clean a box call paddle or the sides of the box (rails) brown Scotch-Brite pads work well
- Only use non-oil chalk on box calls (typically comes in blue, red and white). I prefer blue. White chalk can be too fine and red too coarse
- When applying chalk to a call only apply it to the paddle, never to the side rails of the box. Too much chalk can be a problem. On that note, only apply chalk to a box call when it is need and has started to slip. I use a box call an entire season on every hunt and only chalk 2-3 times per year
- A good quality box call will come ready to use. Avoid adjusting the screw, as a quarter turn in or out will greatly impact the performance of the call.
- It is important to remember to condition striker tips. They do become slick. Even if your pot call is properly conditioned a slick striker tip can cause it to slip on the surface
- Avoid using sandpaper on striker tips. Sandpaper can change the profile of the striker tip. The best thing to use is brown Scotch-Brite pads.
- Condition a striker tip with the same motion you would use to chalk on a pool cue