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slate call

The slate call produces some of the truest turkey talk a hunter can make.

Courtesy photo

We still call them slate calls, though the surface of many of these turkey calls nowadays are glass, aluminum or some other material. This spring, thousands of gobblers in Nebraska will give testament to their effectiveness — when in the right hands.

The beauty of the slate call is that it produces some of the truest turkey talk a hunter can make — sometimes sounding even better than the real deal.

It is the model of versatility. It can give you the loudest, raspiest come-hither cutts and then instantly tone down to dole out the sweetest purrs that ever made a grown gobbler drool.

Finally, with just a little practice and some quick pointers, most of us can be making hen music on a slate call in no time. Here are some of the top calling tips.

Be sure to prepare your call and striker: Friction is key when using this type of call. Hold the striker like a pencil, angled slightly away from you, and then drag it toward you across the surface of the call.

Sweet yelps come easily when you trace small, tight circles on the call surface. Raspy yelps happen when tracing longer ovals and adding a bit more pressure as you hook the first curve.

Soft clucks require less pressure than you think. You need just enough to skip the striker across the surface in straight lines about an inch long. Loud clucks mean more pressure and some popping motion in that same straight line.

Purrs are made in slightly longer straight lines. Drag the striker ever so slowly to get just the right vibrations to sound like a content cat. Turkey hunters need to learn to purr — and practice often. Purrs are killer.

Surfaces and strikers: True slate surfaces often give the cleanest and sweetest of hen music. Few things can compare to the purrs from a true slate surface. Aluminum surfaces are often the king of rough and raspy. They can reach out and rile up the most disinterested turkeys. Glass surfaces run the gamut. Some of the better rainy-day calls have glass.

Change your striker to change your sounds. Generally, woods are mellow, especially the softer they get. Graphite/carbon calls are downright raunchy sounding and great in the rain. Use your preference or match the hens in your hunting area.

Slate calls slip right into your pocket or pouch and weigh next to nothing. That is a good because taking a slate call into the field this spring can mean having to carry a big ol’ gobbler out.

Gov. Pete Ricketts recently signed a proclamation declaring Nebraska the Best Turkey Hunting Destination in the United States. So, practice those calls, and then get out and call in some turkeys.

Aaron Hershberger is an outdoor education specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Contact him at


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