Most box calls are made of wood. When you scrape the paddle bottom against a side panel’s lip (many have two; some just one) the hollow chamber inside the narrow, rectangular box makes a sound — ideally one a wild turkey would like to hear.
To cluck on a box call, pop the paddle off the call’s lip with short upward strokes.
To yelp, lightly scrape and stroke the paddle across the lip.
To mimic cutting, make fast clucks with sharply repeated pops along the lip.
To imitate a fly-down cackle, make a few soft clucks, then excitedly stroke the paddle against the call’s lip repeatedly before finishing with varying yelps and clucks.
To purr, slowly drag the paddle across the lip.
To gobble, wrap a rubber band around the paddle and rest of the box call — the way you might to keep it from making a sound as you walk. Grip the box call without touching the lid. While holding the handle end up, shake it.
To kee-kee or kee-kee-run, find the paddle’s sweet spot — often one-quarter to one-third of the lid length down from the hinge screw. Make three whistle-like notes against the lip using a fast yelping motion. Add a yelp or two on the end to make the “run” notes. Long boxes often work best for kee-keeing.
Tune your box call with chalk, rubbing it along the paddle’s bottom. Avoid oil-based options. Carpenter’s chalk works best. Be sure to keep it dry in your vest as well — a plastic bag will do. Waterproof box calls are also available.
Veteran turkey hunters like to say they want a box call with a flock of turkeys in it. Once you find one like this, it may be your versatile go-to favorite during both the spring and fall seasons.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree's turkey hunting editor and blogger.
Get the latest turkey hunting news, tips and tactics in your inbox!
Realtree turkey hunting editor Steve Hickoff has chased gobblers all over the United States and Mexico. He was born and raised in northcentral Pennsylvania, and now makes his home in Maine. Hickoff was named the NWTF Tom Kelly Communicator of the Year for 2019, a prestigious award reflecting his longtime work promoting hunting and conservation as a turkey hunting writer, editor and book author.