Virtually every turkey hunter has heard of something called a slate call. Slate calls are the primary tool of any turkey hunter and are small metal or glass objects that use a striker to produce the sound of a turkey call. Learning how to properly use one will make you a better hunter in no time and produce easier and often superior results when compared to other turkey calls. Once you know a bit about the types of calls out there you’ll be able to move on to when and how to use your slate call.
Slate calls are one of the most popular types of calls for turkey hunting. They’re very easy to use, making them excellent for novice hunters and those with experience. Using a slate call involves no more than pulling a striker across a small surface that’s made from glass, aluminum or, of course, slate. The striker itself is made from carbon, plastic or wood. Most hunters prefer to carry a few slate calls with them at all times because these different surfaces and strikers will make slightly different call sounds.
Another reason for the popularity of the slate call over, for example, diaphragm and box calls, is its ability to reproduce every turkey call very well, except for cutting. Clucks, yelps, purrs and cackles are very easy to produce with a good quality slate call. To make a yelp, simply make small circles with the striker. Clucks are made with a sharp, quick pull on the slate. Purrs require a slow drag of the striker against the slate. Lastly, a cutting sound is just like the cluck, only faster.
If you’re interested in a more self-reliant method of hunting, you may also want to make your own slate call at home. A basic slate call takes about thirty minutes or less to complete and requires little more than a piece of slate, some sandpaper and a saw. You can mess with the call once you’re done to change the sound a bit as well. To start, cut out a piece of slate that’s 1/8″ thick and about eight by eight inches with your saw. Trim the edges with a hammer and a knife and then wet a piece of sidewalk. Simply rub the slate on the sidewalk in a circular motion until smooth and then rub with sandpaper. Making a sound chamber is also straight-forward. Cut a 2″ high piece of PVC pipe with a diameter of around three inches. Place the pipe piece on your slate and trace the pipe shape onto the slate. Pour a small amount of ceramic glue onto one edge of the pipe and place onto the slate, allowing glue to air dry. Next, complete your striker by cutting an 8″ long length from a wooden dowel with a 3/8″ diameter. Sharpen one end to a point and cut a dry corn cob (corn removed) to around six inches long. Push half of the dowel into the center of the corn cob and use wood glue to secure it with a tight seal if it doesn’t fit well to begin with. The only thing left to do is tune your slate call. To do this, vary the length and shape of the dowel tip until you get just the right sound. You can also vary the amount of the hollowed out space between the cob and dowel or shorten the PVC pipe.
Buying a slate call is often the best way to go, however, especially if you’re a novice hunter. Two brands stand out: Primos Calls and Mad Calls. These brands make excellent turkey calls that are reliable and high quality. The Primos Jackpot slate turkey call is one of the most popular calls on the market and costs around $25 at most hunting stores, such as Cabella’s. Mad Calls also sells a high-quality call for around $40 that was designed by champion turkey callers. Both of these slate calls produce realistic sounds that are easy to achieve. Once you’ve selected a good slate call, make sure you practice making the different turkey calls until you’re comfortable with how to use your new call. This will ensure everything goes smoothly when the moment comes.