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I may be biased, but box calls are my favorite turkey calls. Maybe it’s because a box call was my first “real” turkey call. When I graduated from my push button, which I still use, the box call made my transition to the big time smooth. Box calls are easy to use and can make every call a hunter needs. They have a dynamic volume range which makes calling distant gobblers no problem.
The main drawback of the box call is it’s finicky nature. A little moisture or not enough chalk and your turkey instrument is singing off key. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to keep a box call running at it’s best for years. A good friend uses a box call given to him by his grandfather that is over 40 years old. It’s still fooling turkeys.
The off season is one of the most dangerous times in the life of a turkey call. Many are left in a garage or even in the pockets of a hunting jacket. Extreme temperatures and dips in humidity can break down box call materials. The best place to store a box call is a cool dry place. I have a storage room in my finished basement that serves as my hunting gear headquarters. The temperature is constant and I place the call in a zip-seal plastic bag to avoid too much exposure to humidity.
As the season draws near, it’s time to get the call ready for action. Use latex gloves to protect the call from the oils of your skin. The beveled edges of the box and bottom side of the lid are sensitive. If these surfaces absorb oils, the call can fall out of tune and could eventually deteriorate. You can buy a box of 100 gloves at your local hardware store for three or four dollars. They come in handy for just about everything including gun cleaning and meat processing.
To get the call ready open the lid and inspect the bottom side. If it is dirty, use an air sprayer to blow off any particles of dust. It’s a good idea to blow any debris or chalk out of the sound chamber as well. If the lid is still gummed up, use a clean, dry towel to wipe away grime. Do not use sandpaper on a box call.
Once the call is clean, apply a layer of chalk to the lid. Use box call chalk, teacher’s chalk, or carpenter’s chalk. Avoid any chalk made with oils. Another mistake some hunters make is chalking the beveled edges of the box. These edges are tuned to make sweet turkey music… chalk will damage them.
After the lid is chalked and a few test yelps confirms everything is sounding good, head for the woods and go get your gobbler. But keep that plastic bag in your vest. If it starts raining, a box call needs protection. Call manufacturers are making what they claim to be waterproof calls. But I would rather be safe than sorry. Good luck this season.