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I’ll Have a Box Please….

This weekend should be an interesting one for turkey hunters.   Warm Saturday and then some disagreeable weather for Sunday.   You have to love spring turkey hunting!   No matter, grab your turkey calls and head to the woods as things may start heating up soon!

Over the years, I have come to be very fond of certain turkey calls.   From mouth calls, slates, wing bone yelpers, to box calls, I have and still do use them all.   But it seems each year, the first call I reach for is the box call.   In fact, I would argue it is the most versatile call you can have.   Now….Hershy will likely come along and explain why that is not true but let’s look at the facts.

  1.  A thing of beauty – box calls are a gem for the collector.  They are made from different woods, engraved, have meaning, represent different regions of the world and can be analogous to reading markings on a cave wall….they tell a story about hunting.  I collect them and each one reminds me of something pretty darn cool in life.
Engraving and beautiful wood! What’s not to love?

2. Versatility – Just about every sound the wild turkey vocalizes can be reproduced on the box call.   From soft to excited yelps, clucks, purrs, cuts, cackles and even gobbles, the box can do it all.  I have purred in some tough toms with the gentle slide of a box call lid many a time.

This double sided beauty came from a Nebraska Bowhunter’s Association banquet years ago by my good friend Kirk Sharp.

3.  Easy to use – I cannot think of a more easy to use call for the novice or a more effective call for the pro.   My daughter picked up a box call and was brining in toms on the first hunt.

4.  Box calls have meaning – My brother-in -law made me a box call years ago.   Not a thing of beauty for say….but likely one of the last calls I will let go.  He used walnut from his farm in southeast Nebraska.   Pretty cool!

This “ugly duckling” made by my brother-in-law has the sound to challenge toms

5.  Ease of maintenance – all calls require maintenance to sound their best.  After all, they are musical instruments that require care.   For the box call, a simple and light application of chalk (or better  yet, pine sap rosin powder) to the under lid and box lips is all that is needed annually top sound.

6.  Oh that sound – I think decibel for decibel, the box makes the most incredible sounds that can carry through the turkey woods like rocket.  They can be soft and quiet or loud and shrill.   Such variance in sound with one call can make or break a hunt.  When I have a box with me, often leave all other calls in the truck and feel totally confident.   Not so with other calls.  My good friend Dick Turpin made me a box call when I started with the Commission around 18 years ago.  That call has the deepest raspiest sound of any I own.  But, when other calls fail, this one seems to generate a response more often than not.   Its different and in the turkey woods, different is good!

This Dick Turpin call sounds very different and can be the ticket when others fail.

No matter what you head to the woods with this weekend, I would make sure I had at least one box call in my vest. But then again, if one is good, two or three are even better.   The fact is, you never really know what sound that tom will like on any given day.   I can guarantee you that having a box call on you will be an advantage.

Enjoy the hunt!


About jeff rawlinson

Jeff is the Education Manager in the Communications Division with Game and Parks where he has worked for the last 15 years. He oversees the Hunter Education, Boater Education, Hunter Outreach and Shooting Range Development for the Commission and is a devout hunter, angler, wildlife viewer, naturalist, father and husband. He holds a BS and MS from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been a Hunter Education Instructor for over 20 years, NRA firearms instructor and range officer, National Archery in the Schools Program Archery Instructor Specialist and member of the National NASP Board, sits on the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunter Recruitment and Retention Committee and Education Committee. Jeff is an avid handgun hunter, loves to chase turkeys in the spring, squirrel hunting enthusiast and philosopher of the outdoors. He is an avid shooter and loves to spend outdoor time with family and friends. He has a passion for exciting others about the outdoors. A history buff, Jeff is a strong supporter of our North American Model of Conservation and tries to spread the message of its importance and relevance every chance he gets.

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