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Turkey call clutter.

Turkey gear used to consist of a wing bone caller and a trusty double barrel shotgun, but not any more. Today's hunters want and are willing to pay for every advantage that your shop can provide to outsmart "old tom." The problem is that there are so many products that retailers and customers can easily become confused. What kind of caller is best? Which sounds should it make? And, just as important, how can they be marketed effectively?

The 1991 SHOT Show brought together the major turkey call manufacturers from all over the country and I focused my time on calling products to cull out the basics from the clutter. Despite more that a hundred imitations of turkey talk, the devices fell into four basic categories, slate, box, diaphragm, and specialty models.

The clutter of callers may intimidate some customers, especially those who may be anxious about trying the sport for the first time. They may think that they will not have time to practice all the calls necessary to be successful or might make the "wrong" sound. With today's easier to use products, any hunter can learn the fundamentals of turkey hunting with only a small amount of practice. Your advice may be the key to that customer getting the right start and will not only boost the odds for him being successful but almost guarantee that he will return to your shop. SLATE AND PEG CALLERS

More turkey calling championships are won with slate type callers than any other. This would seemingly answer the question of the "best" caller, however, that would be an oversimplification. Slate and peg callers consist of a circular disk or "cup" that can be used with great precision, perhaps because the peg can be held like a pencil, a tool we are very proficient with. Furthermore, it is excellent for making some of the more difficult turkey calls such as the "Purr" and "cluck." Volume is naturally low and can be controlled more easily than with most others.

Many modern slate" callers aren't the true material but a synthetic plastic known as glass or double glass. They operate by passing a peg or striker over the surface, often in a circular or curved fashion to vary the tone of the call. Although the synthetic materials allow precision of manufacture, they are also breakable. One slipped out of my pocket onto the the garage floor and yelped it's last.

The disadvantage of slate callers, like most hand held models is that they requires movement of the hunters hands to make a call and turkeys are notorious for detecting the slightest twitch from horrendous distances. Also rain can be a problem with both the slate and the wooden striker. For this reason, some models come with a plastic striker or with two kinds in the same package.

Slate callers are easy to use but often do not make their best sound right out of the box. Like a baseball, they perform best after the surface has been roughed up a bit. For this reason, it will be wise to have a model or two in top condition for customers to try. Folks will be amazed at how quickly they can make not only the basic yelp, but other more sophisticated ones, such as the cluck or cutt.


The box caller is the simplest of all the models to use and produces the basic calls of the wild turkey including the gobble which gives it an edge over the competition.

Box callers have a classic heritage due largely to the natural materials they are constructed from such as mahogany or cedar, and the fact that each has a sound chamber that functions like a guitar or violin. Most are hand crafted and can become a work of art.

The simplicity of the box call is one of it's strongest points. Although chalk adds to the quality of the sound, generally the sound is made by rubbing two "sticks" together connected to the sound chamber. Furthermore, one of the most difficult sounds, the gobble, is made with a flick of the wrist. Although dangerous to use near other hunters, this call will challenge boss gobblers in the spring and lure in males of all ages in the fall.

On the down side of things, box callers can be bulky and noisy if a hunter loses the rubber band that holds the lid tightly against the box. Also, in unskilled hands, it is more difficult to make the cluck and purr than with slate callers, at least in my opinion. DIAPHRAGM CALLS

Diaphragm callers rely on a thin strip of latex to be vibrated by air to create sound. Although these are most widely thought of as "in the mouth" models, several companies make a "tube call" which is basically the diaphragm model with a short extension (so that you can't swallow it). Diaphragm calls are the most versatile of all callers and folks that use them well can call practically anything from turkeys to elk to coyotes.

The major advantage of the diaphragm, aside from the great versatility of tone, is that a hunter can keep both hands on the gun and his eyes on the turkey while using it. No movement is required. A major reason that hunters miss or wound spring gobblers is that they take the shot while the bird is in full strut with it's head and neck tucked in against it's body. Veteran hunters will put the bead on the turkey and then give a short sharp call, causing the tom raise his head to look for danger. This greatly enlarges the kill zone and skillful shooters can tag their bird without putting a single pellet in the eating portion.

Diaphragm callers come in models with one, two, or three layers of latex. Sometimes these thin sheets are cut or notched which alters the tone further .Usually, the single layer making the highest pitch (younger turkeys) and the double and triple giving deeper and more varied tone possibilities. The small size of diaphragms is a district advantage since hunters can carry several models in their shirt or pants pocket.

On the other hand, diaphragms can be very difficult to learn to use. Most folks find this difficult and it took me a while to get the hang of it. The sound is made by blowing air over the latex and regulating the vibration with the tongue.

Fortunately, the relative low cost of diaphragms means that customers will take a chance on the unit if they can hear what it is supposed to sound like. It is helpful if you can demonstrate several variations, use an audio or video tape, or invite others to demonstrate.

The external diaphragms eliminate many of these problems while allowing most of the flexibility. Top callers recommend that hunters use words to gain consistency with diaphragm calls. For example, to make the cluck sound, a person should say "tuck" or "cut" into the call. SPECIAL PURPOSE CALLERSt

Although most callers on the market fall into one of the above categories, there are special purpose units to do a specific job. Several manufacturers, for example, make a "push button" caller that will make a single, very good sounding, call with each push. Some yelp, some cluck, but they usually perform just one function.

"Locating" callers fall into this category as well. On some days turkeys will gobble naturally, however, on others they will not. To get them to reveal their location, natural or artificial sounds are used. TUNING UP FOR TURKEYS

One of the best ways for sportsmen to perfect their calling once a caller has been purchased is to rent or buy an audio or video tape. Sound and volume of calling are important but so is rhythm. For example, computers can reproduce human sounds, but the flow of the speech (the rhythm) tells you that it is not a person. Turkey sounds should sound natural to be alluring. A number of instructional tapes are on the market. A very effective selling technique is to have a VCR and color monitor playing a turkey video in the shop. Not only can video sales add to your receipts, but many hunters will gladly rent them as well.

Your success on sales will be influenced by an understanding of callers and the characteristics of each. No one will expect you to be an expert with each one, however, the better you can cut through the clutter of calls available and help the customer, the more likely he will be to bag that gobbler. When he does, you'll be the first person he thanks, and then he will tell all of his friends.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:marketing the various types of turkey callers
Author:Byers, Joseph W.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Feb 1, 1991
Previous Article:Getting started as an archery retailer.
Next Article:Reaching out.

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