•Slate turkey calls made from box turtle shells produce the best-sounding purrs and tree yelps, and it’s easy to make your own. The biggest challenge is finding a shell. Box turtles, which range from the Eastern Seaboard to the Great Plains and through the Southwest into Arizona, are dry-land beasts, so comb through open grassy areas and sparse woodlands. Check with your state wildlife agency first, however. Some states prohibit their use for any reason. All states prohibit killing turtles.

  1. [1] The slate must first be split to 1/8 inch thick. Turn it on edge with the long side down and use a serrated knife to cut a groove in the middle of the top edge. Place a thin, straight-edge knife in the groove and tap it with a hammer to split the slate in half. If using a ½-inch-thick slate, repeat the process on the piece with the original smooth blackboard surface.

  2. [2] Remove the base of the shell. Soak the shell in a strong bleach-and-water solution for an hour, rinse it, and let it dry.

  3. [3] Measure the internal width just behind the spot where the top joined the bottom shell. The slate must be the same width. Mark it and score both the smooth and rough sides accordingly with the serrated knife. Align this incision on the edge of a flat, squared-off table and press firmly on the overhanging strip to break it off. Then, starting from points two-thirds of the way up the long sides of the slate, use the same method to remove the top corners at a 45-degree angle.

  4. [4] Use quick-setting epoxy to attach the slate to the shell at the four contact points, with the tapered end toward the front and the smooth side facing out. Let it dry.

  5. [5] Obtain an acrylic striker, then simply head into the turkey woods and call in a gobbler.


•3½×5-inch piece of ¼- or ½-inch-thick blackboard slate, cut to size with a diamond-tipped saw

•Fast-setting epoxy glue

•Box or mud turtle shell