The Call Doesn’t Make Much Sound

I looked at the call in my hand incredulously.  I kept silent out of respect for a fellow hunter and in the interest of passing on the hunting tradition.  He said it didn’t make much sound.  I wasn’t surprised.  I held a M.A.D. Heavy Metal turkey call.  Someone had attempted to “condition” the recessed portion of its back side.  I dug a Primos Slick Stick from my fanny pack and conditioned the call’s pristine striking surface.  The sounds were much more “turkey like” then.

To “Condition” the Call

To get consistent sound from our glass friction or “pot” calls we must keep them conditioned.  People often don’t know what I mean when I say “conditioned”.  I’m talking about breaking that hard, clear crust on the glass and giving it some texture so that the striker has something to “play” against and make turkey sounds.  We need a couple of things for this.  I condition a lot of calls every year and highly recommend the previously mentioned Slick Stick pictured below.  This handy tool has a stone surfacer, diamond surfacer (pre 2008 model), chalk, striker tip conditioner and scouring pad.  That’s everything we need except a piece of 1″ x 2″, 80-100 grit cloth-backed sandpaper.    Cloth-backed sandpaper allows us to crinkle the backing without breaking off the attached grit.  Slick Sticks are available from our local sporting goods stores and the sandpaper should be available at our local auto parts store in the body repair section.   

The Primos Slick Stick – note the stone is nearly gone on the top one.

Conditioning – One Method

Just like we can tie a square knot right-over-left-left-over-right AND left-over-right-right-over-left, there are many ways to condition our calls.  I prefer to condition left-to-right with the call oriented in the same direction every time.  In the early morning dark of my blind it may be difficult to see the conditioning.   However, I will likely be able to see the writing on the back of my dustyvarmint woodworks calls.  This writing always runs in the same direction as the grain of the wood.  A hunter could also use a marker to draw an arrow on the back of a call.  I might shed a tear if someone drew on the back of my calls.  Anyway, the pictures below illustrate the direction of conditioning.  Playing the call is done against the grain.

Condition the call from left to right (as shown by the arrows).  Play the call from top to bottom.


The New Call

Conditioning a call from scratch takes a little more effort than maintaining one that is already conditioned.   Just keep working the stone back and forth, back and forth until that smooth crust is broken.  Then use the sandpaper and repeat the process.  Our call is then ready to make beautiful turkey sounds!

In the Field

When traipsing around in the fields pot calls rub against one another or the cases they’re in.  We can no longer be confident what sounds they’ll make when we put the striker to them.  Once settled I lay out my calls and condition each of them I intend to use before each “sit” with my sandpaper.  I then know I’ll be ready to strike that good note when the time comes.

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