Each type of call has a strength or advantage to the turkey hunter. The versatile box call is capable of making a lot of turkey vocalisations but it shines in two departments – loud volume and excited calling.
I was blind calling once at a spot where a good echo came back to me from a hill across a field. My set up looked like a garage sale hit by a hurricane. I had every call in my vest out on the ground around me and had tired them all over the hours I waited there. I noticed the echo from each type of call.
The echo from my mouth calls was barely audible. From the pot and peg calls, it was clear, though not loud. But the echo from the box calls boomed right back at me. The box call sound definitely carried the farthest.
Because the box call punches out in the distance so well it is the call to use in certain situations. Use it when you don’t know where toms are and have a big area to search. Get up high and run a boat paddle box call (pictured above) and you are truly calling long distance. If you get a gobble it will be sound faint in the distance so listen carefully after calling. Once you figure out what direction its coming from you can move toward it, cutting the distance at least in half, if you can move without being see.
One time, before the days of waterproof box calls, a boisterous tom and I got caught out in a violent spring thunderstorm. We were soaked to the skin in seconds but it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm. He gobbled hard at every crack of thunder and gust of wind. The wind was blowing from him to me. The only call I could use was a mouth call because it was the only call I had that worked soaking wet. But the mouth call couldn’t buck the wind and punch through the rain to get to his ears. When I tried to get closer to him I got busted.
I believe a waterproof box call, played loud, would have given me a good chance at that tom in those adverse conditions.
Rain, fog, snow, wind and dense late season foliage all absorb and muffle the sound from your calls. But the box call seems to punch through a little better when you have to reach out there in those conditions. Once a tom is in close then you can switch to a mouth call or pot call to finesse him in the rest of the way, if that’s what you prefer.
A box call is most commonly held horizontally when used, but its good to practice with it vertically as in the picture above. When you run it vertically the sound drives straight out, rather than up, giving you more distance with it. Also you can search all around you by pointing it each direction. If a tom hangs up on his way in, you can point the call away from him to make him believe you are moving away so he will keep coming.
Box calls also make the great loud, staccato calls like the fly down cackle and excited cutting. Its a good way to go when you have to get under a cautious tom’s feathers and get him all worked up so he’ll make a mistake in your favour.