Box Call Tips for Turkey Hunters

If your favorite box call has stopped producing lifelike yelps and clucks, you may be able to restore or improve its sound. Tad Brown, call designer for Lohman/M.A.D. Calls and a box call aficionado, brings squawking boxes back to life and keeps them sounding sweet with a few simple steps. Here's how he does it:

[1] PADDLE ALIGNMENT

"I hold the box at eye height and make sure the lid, or paddle, lies level on the sidewalls," Brown says. "If the handle sticks up, loosen the screw that attaches the paddle to the box to bring it down. Tighten the same screw if the handle is sticking downward."

[2] WOODWORKING

"Any kind of gunk— chalk, dirt, grease, even fingerprints—can fill the wood pores on the paddle and sidewalls. Those pores need to be opened up for the call to sound right. I use a piece of light sandpaper to rough up any greasy spots. When the wood is really clogged or dirty, I'll even use a sharp penknife to shave off a little material and open the pores."

[3] CONDITIONING

"I never chalk a box call," Brown stresses. "That only clogs the wood pores again. Old-timers used pine rosin to treat their paddles, but Lohman's Box Call Magic [$9; 877-956-5746; kolpin.com], containing powdered rosin mixed with alcohol, raises the grain and treats it. The alcohol dries quickly and leaves a slightly rough surface, which I hit lightly with sandpaper. This treatment helps the box maintain its sound for many outings."

[4] MAINTENANCE

"I store my box call in its own vest pocket to protect it from dirt and debris," Brown says. "If it's raining out, I leave my box at home. If you get caught in a shower, treat your call like you would a wet firearm; bring it inside, wipe it down, then set it under gentle, warm air to dry. Touch it up with sandpaper or rosin as needed before trying to tempt your next turkey."