Are you new to turkey hunting? In this video and blog post we show you how to use a slate call.
What's a slate call? A striking surface attached to a hollow pot — often with drilled holes underneath to create sound resonance with the inner chamber — and a peg (often called a striker) form this two-piece, hand-held turkey caller.
Pot and peg striking surface materials often include slate, but also glass and aluminum. Pegs are made of wood, carbon, plastic, glass and even turkey wing bone. Dress (rough up) a slate surface lightly with a Scotch-Brite™ scour pad. Use fine grit sandpaper on glass and aluminum.
Hold the pot, striking surface up, with your thumb in the nine o’clock position and middle finger at three o’clock. Grip the peg like a pencil, thumb in the striker’s center. You can make a variety of turkey calls by varying the stroke pattern. All vocalizations require keeping the peg tip on the surface.
To cluck, put the peg’s tip on the striking surface. Angle it slightly inward with pressure and pull it toward you. Cluck softly with less pressure; louder and deeper with more.
To yelp, draw small ovals on the pot’s surface. As with clucking, less pressure makes softer yelps.
To purr, draw a slow line across the surface, as if the turkey were walking or feeding. Make these lines in an agitated way to imitate fighting purrs.
To imitate cutting (fast clucking) keep the peg’s tip on the surface as with the other calls. Stroke as if clucking, but repeat rapidly multiple times.
Learning how to use a slate call takes time. Listen to the birds you hunt to imitate their vocalizations. Matching your sounds to those made by real wild turkeys requires practice — before, during and after the season.
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.