How to Use a Box Turkey Call

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Learn how to use a box call while turkey hunting.

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.