The nasty rainy days that often accompany the lull between winter hunting seasons and Spring gobbler provide an ideal time to outfit yourself with you own custom turkey calls before the season starts. Some hunters take this on as an individual project. Others like to use this as a family activity. There are different game call suppliers on the market that sell a variety of turkey call components or call kits. One supplier that I am familiar with is Brookside Game Calls.
When customizing your calls, it is ideal to start with a call that is easier to assemble. Narrowing down which call is easiest to assemble depends on your game call supplier's options for assembly. For example, if purchasing from Brookside Game Calls, this would be their box call kit. It requires placement of one spring in between the call lid and call body and a screw to hold it together. From there, all that is left is chalking the inside of the call lid and customizing the call.
Customizing box calls can be as simple or as intricate as you would like. Some, especially kids, may want to utilize paint and paint their initials, turkey tracks, or even a turkey feather on their call. Others may prefer to utilize a wood burner, especially if the call kit includes wood that is not finished. It is important to think through how you may want to customize your call prior to assembly. If you want to cut grooves into the lid handle with a belt sander, it would be easier to do that before assembly. If free handing with paint or a wood burner, it is ideal to use a pencil to sketch out your design first and trace it with your paint brush or wood burner second. Aside from this, be on the lookout for other customizing pieces that you can purchase from your game call supplier. For example, Brookside Game Calls has Clucker Clips that acts as a stop for making clucks with your box call.
A friction pot call is another customizable call for turkey hunters. Parts for this call include a call pot, sounding board, playing surface, and striker. Companies often have various part materials available for purchase, so one can customize a call that will suit their needs best. Plastic pots are often available in different sizes and colors. Some plastic pots available on the market may have finger groove indentions around the bottom of the call or are made for hunters to assemble a double-sided friction call. Wooden pots can be found in a variety of wood types and sizes. Playing surfaces are often available in slate, glass, aluminum, copper, or crystal. Strikers are available in plastic and different types of wood too.
Aside from your call parts, you will need plastic clamps, glue (E6000 or Gorilla Glue), plastic clamps, and sandpaper. You can easily find plastic clamps at stores like Harbor Freight. Assembling a friction call requires you to glue the sounding board on the sounding board plate inside the call. The sounding board plate is circular and sits off the inner floor of the call. After applying glue, place a plastic clamp over the pot and sounding board. Make sure that it is centered on the sounding board. After the sounding board is dry, glue the playing surface in the recessed edge found in the interior of the call. After applying glue, place a plastic clamp over the pot and playing surface. When applying glue, it is imperative that you apply only enough glue to securely hold your sounding board and playing surface. Applying too much will cause it to get on the call parts when the clamp is applied. Ensure that the glue is dry before using the call or moving it about. Otherwise, you take the risk of the call coming apart. I’ve had a sounding board dismantle inside my call. There was no way to fix it without breaking the call. After your call is assembled, sand down any rough edges (for unfinished wooden calls) and rough your playing surface. If you have an unassembled striker for your call, it will be necessary for you to glue the striker handle on the striker.
Customizing your pot call can be done before call assembly or post assembly. If you have made a wooden call and/or a wooden striker, consider utilizing a wood burner to customize it. I’ve watched individuals burn a variety of designs into their call. A few examples include one's initials, turkey tracks, arrows, feathers, and a silhouette of a gobbler in strut. As mentioned before, use a pencil to sketch out your design first and trace it with the wood burner second. To finish your wooden pot, consider staining it with wood stain or lacquering it as you desire. Rather than wood burning a design on a call, I’ve seen some individuals paint a design or color pattern on their wooden call. If you have a plastic pot call and/or a plastic striker, design it with paint as you desire.
It is very satisfying to call in a bird with a call you assembled and customized. It may seem intricate to some, but it is well worth it. You have the freedom to make your call with the materials that you feel will create the most realistic sounds for your pursuit. Customizing your call is limited to your own creativity. To avoid mistakes, take your time and be patient. If you have kids, ensure you are there to help them, and take safety precautions as needed with the tools you utilize. To completely outfit yourself, there are components and kits for turkey mouth calls, crow calls, and owl calls on the market too!