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Advanced Box Call Techniques

Simplicity is part of the appeal of a box, right? However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t endeavor to get the most out of your box. Better, more versatile calling can help win the day with a tough turkey.

Vertical Calling

It seems intuitive to hold a box call in one palm and run it horizontally, and many folks do so. That works fine, but a vertical grip optimizes the call’s versatility and sound quality.

Hold the call straight up and down, and grasp it lightly by the base, not the sound boards on the side. It doesn’t matter whether you hold the call with the paddle up or down. It’s best that you practice with both grips, because that will let you sound like two turkeys.

Lightly grip the paddle handle between your index and middle fingers, and then start with a yelp. Scrape the paddle lightly but steadily over the sound board to see where the note breaks. Then, speed up the stroke to reach a normal turkey yelping rhythm.

Clucks, Cutting and Cackles

To cluck, cutt or cackle on a box, you can press the paddle to the board and then pop it off. Or, sharply smack the paddle across the board.

If you use the “smacking” technique, make sure you keep the individual clucks sufficiently brief. You don’t want the paddle to touch the board too long because it will produce a long, unnatural sound.

Conversely, you don’t just want to pop it across the board, either. An abbreviated cluck is just as unnatural as a overly long one.

Many folks forget about another time-honored method: tapping the paddle with one hand and controlling the paddle’s travel with the other. This allows for greater control and produces rich, full-sounding clucks, cutting and cackles.

Purr-Fect Touch

Hold the call in your palm, and touch your paddle on the area of the board that produces the first-note whistle of the yelp. Then, lightly grasp the paddle handle — I actually grip it
between my thumb and forefinger — and slowly, delicately run it across the board.

Don’t scrape it to the point that the note  breaks. You want a consistent tone. At first, you might just get a squawk or whistle. Lighten your touch until the paddle produces a subtle vibration.

I’ve also found that it helps to roll the paddle slightly upward as you run it across the board. After some practice, you’ll find the right touch that produces soft vibration and emits soft,
subtle purring.

For kee-kees, remember your first-note whistle of the yelp, and then stop the paddle short of the breaking point.

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