Field Tested: Clean Slates

Field editor Phil Bourjaily tests eight new slate calls to see which can really talk turkey

slate call reviews
slate call reviews
Ted Morrison

The Test
A friction call needs to sound good at high volume for the days you have to beat them over the head and soft for the days when they need sweet-talking. I took my calls outside and tape-recorded them at a distance of 20 yards. Starting at the edges where the pitch is high and working my way to the lower-pitched center of the call, I made loud and soft calls, then played them back and rated their sound at low and high volumes. -Phil Bourjaily

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Lohman Heirloom Slate ($23)

** Description: Slate in an American ash pot with a purpleheart striker.
Sound: Fairly low and raspy, it's not as loud as some, but it's realistic.
****Comments:: A traditional-style call that mimics turkeys especially well at lower volumes.
Hits: Very natural soft sounds.
Misses: You can't crank up the volume.
Contact: 877-956-5746; kolpin.com
** Description: Slate in a walnut pot with an oak bottom and a hickory striker.
Sound: Medium-high pitch, warm and realistic, with a good range from high to low.
Comments: The surface seems to grab the peg, making it easy to run quietly.
Hits: Looks good, makes a range of sounds.
Misses: The most expensive call of the bunch.
Contact: 717-362-8413; codyturkeycalls.com
** Description: Aluminum pot, crystal surface, graphite and purpleheart strikers.
Sound: Very high pitched with wood striker, higher with graphite; raspy, almost shrill.
Comments: Loudness and high pitch means it can ach out and touch distant birds.
Hits: Great sounds at any volume.
****Misses:: It's ugly; the metal glints in the sun.
Contact: 877-956-5746; kolpin.com
** Description: A smaller glass call set in a wooden pot with a hardwood striker.
Sound: Sharp, high pitched, with some rasp.
Comments: It's not as loud as the Heavy Metal, but you can feel pressure on your eardrums when you crank the volume.
Hits: Attractive, sounds as good as it looks.
Misses: I wish its volume setting went to 11.
Contact: 800-523-2395; primos.com
** Description: Glass call in a composite wooden pot with slate set in the bottom; hardwood, purpleheart, and aluminum strikers.
Sound: The glass makes very authentic turkey noises, and the slate makes softer tones.
Comments: It looks cool, and with its two surfaces and three strikers, it produces the widest range of turkey talk out of all the calls tested.
Hits: Gives you a flock of different birds.
Misses: Lacks a loud, grating sound.
Contact: 770-536-7374; robertsbrothersturkeycalls.com

H.S. Strut Double Strike ($29)

** Description: Glass with a plastic pot and a rosewood striker.
Sound: High pitched and scratchy.
Comments: The Double Strike is loud and sharp enough to make you wince, which is what you want in a long-range call. It also soundss good at low volumes. I found it to be a very easy call to cluck and purr with.
Hits: Great for attracting distant toms.
Misses: The directional sound ports seem a little gimmicky.
Contact: 800-728-0321; hunterspec.com

Knight & Hale Pocket Puppy ($15)

** Description: Ceramic "Sla-tek" surface and plastic pot, hickory striker with a plastic top.
Sound: High pitched and clear, with some raspy sweet spots.
Comments: The Pocket Puppy has the upper-level tone that turkeys often respond to, ranging from high to very high. It's a call to have when the turkeys want to hear a clear yelp.
Hits: Small and inexpensive but with excellent sound, this would make a great call for kids.
Misses: Not particularly versatile in its range.
Contact: 800-500-9357; www.knightandhale.com

Quaker Boy X-Pot ($22)

** Description: Copper top with its center roughened over a plastic pot.
Sound: High and clear on the outside edges of the pot, raspier and deeper in the center.
Comments: Designed for beginners, the copper-topped, plastic-bottomed X-Pot has a textured area in the center. It made good, clear sounds with a little practice.
Hits: It produces a nice, high-low kee-yuk.
****Misses:: There were definite dead spots.
Contact: 800-544-1600; quakerboygamecalls.com

ttle gimmicky.
Contact: 800-728-0321; hunterspec.com

Knight & Hale Pocket Puppy ($15)

** Description: Ceramic "Sla-tek" surface and plastic pot, hickory striker with a plastic top.
Sound: High pitched and clear, with some raspy sweet spots.
Comments: The Pocket Puppy has the upper-level tone that turkeys often respond to, ranging from high to very high. It's a call to have when the turkeys want to hear a clear yelp.
Hits: Small and inexpensive but with excellent sound, this would make a great call for kids.
Misses: Not particularly versatile in its range.
Contact: 800-500-9357; www.knightandhale.com

Quaker Boy X-Pot ($22)

** Description: Copper top with its center roughened over a plastic pot.
Sound: High and clear on the outside edges of the pot, raspier and deeper in the center.
Comments: Designed for beginners, the copper-topped, plastic-bottomed X-Pot has a textured area in the center. It made good, clear sounds with a little practice.
Hits: It produces a nice, high-low kee-yuk.
****Misses:: There were definite dead spots.
Contact: 800-544-1600; quakerboygamecalls.com