|WHAT'S THE FUTURE FOR
by John Maynard
At the 2000 National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) convention in Nashville,
I had a chance to talk with some of the biggest turkey call manufacturers
in the nation about the future of turkey hunting and what's in the future
for turkey calls.
What surprised me was that virtually every call manufacturer said the
same thing -- "The industry is going back to the old standbys and looking
to improve them."
Dick Kirby, owner of Quaker Boy, said that for the past few years there
have been a lot of "gimmicks" in the turkey call business but today hunters
are looking for two things, better quality and better sound. "We're seeing
the rebirth of older calls," Kirby said, "and the quality is improving
This year Quaker Boy had the hottest "gimmick" with their "Triple Threat"
call which featured three slate type calls in one. The "pot" or sounding
chamber has a glass, aluminum, and slate surface all in one call giving
you three different sounds. The package comes with two strikers and it's
been almost impossible to produce them fast enough for the retailers.
Preston Pittman, long known as a manufacturer of outstanding diaphragms,
has started a new line of box calls that spells quality all the way. But
you're going to pay $150 for his custom made box calls. "Good sounding
calls are becoming more and more important to knowledgeable hunters," Pittman
Pittman said that ten years ago a huge number of new turkey hunters
went afield. They were all looking for the "magic bullet" in calls and
bought every new gimmick that ht the market. But now those hunters have
become more knowledgeable and realize that there is no magic answer.
The real key to a good call is achieving the best sound possible and that
means you're gonna have to pay more for a custom made call. You could see
that happening at the recent NWTF convention as the smaller custom call
manufacturers received a lot of attention.
Pittman said that next year he would be introducing a new line of diaphragm
calls that are "radically different from anything else on the market."
He refused to give any hit of what was coming though. In the meantime,
Pittman said that learning good "woodsmanship" and using good calling skills
were still the key to getting your bird. "The 'McDonald's hunter' who is
just starting out will still fall for the gimmicks, but more knowledgeable
turkey hunters will be looking to spend a little more to find the best
sounding call around," Pittman concluded.
One of the best "old timer" calls is a box call produced by Albert Paul
under the trade name "Paul's Calls." His exact copy of the Neil Cost box
calls has made his product one of the best box calls around.
"It's very difficult to find a good mass produced box call," said Paul
who only makes 600 to 800 calls a year. If you want one of his calls it's
almost to late to buy it this year. He is about 3-4 months behind schedule
right now in delivering new calls.
One of the hottest slate calls at the show was Ted Peters, owner of
Peter's Calls. His glass slate type calls named "Shady Lady" and
"Sweet Lips" were selling out fast. "The key to producing a good sounding
is in the pot material," said Peters. "You build a better pot and you
will get a better sound. It's that simple," he said. Peter's builds his
pots one at a time by hand, tuning each one separately as he makes them.
One of the keys to Peter's Calls is the striker. It has a wider tip
making it very easy to use and get excellent purrs, cutts, and yelps. Peter's
says Titanium surfaces have come and gone as have ceramic. But good slate
and glass are the future of great sounding calls. His calls sell for $60
each and are worth every penny.
David Hale of Knight and Hale also agrees that hunters age going back
to some of the old standbys. His "Old Yeller" call is still one of the
sweetest sounding slate type calls at a reasonable price. But you have
to have a good ear to pick out a good one. As with most mass produces calls
there is a wide variety of sounds -- some good, some terrible. One of the
better ways to test a call is to have someone use it outdoors and you stand
20 yards away and listen to it. If it's clear, crisp, and sounds like a
turkey in the woods, buy it. If not, leave it
in the store. Knight and Hale also has a new striker this year called
the "Power Point" which is nothing more than JB Weld put on the end of
the striker. but it does produce a good sound in all kinds of weather
and most surfaces.
So, in wrapping up what's new in calls, the answer is not much. It's
what's old that's new. Calls are getting more expensive as more and more
are being handmade. But the sounds coming out of these sweet sounding boxes
and slates are well worth the price. As diaphragms get more and more overused
and turkeys hear more and more of those types of sounds, the older, sweet
sounding box and slate calls are finding their place again
in the turkey hunting world.
ONE MORE NEW PRODUCT WORTH A LOOK
One more new product that impressed me at the NWTF convention was the
"Star-Dot" shotgun sight made by Highlander Sports, Inc. in Huntsville,
AL. The "Star-Dot" is a small magnetic mounted sight that fits on
vent rib of your shotgun. It's a small red light that is the aiming
point, replacing the front bead on your shotgun. The light goes on when
it is placed on your shotgun rib. The intensity of the light varies depending
on the amount of ambient light reaching the sight so that it dims as it
is darker outside. that way the light is not so overpowering that you cannot
see the target.
The sight runs on two hearing aid batteries and will light for 70 hours
on one change of batteries. The retail price is $29.95 and comes in three
sizes to fit just about any vent rib. The site is not legal in all states
so check your game and fish regulations before you order one. Anywhere
where a lighted aiming device cannot be used in the taking of game they
The sight is a great aid in getting on target quickly and easily in
all weather conditions. The Star-Dot can be ordered by calling Highlander
Sports at 1-800-758-3346.