Pot n Peg or Slate Style Turkey Call Buyers Guide

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Pot n Peg or Slate Style Turkey Call Buyers Guide

by Matt Wettish

The slate call gets its name from the material in which the surface of the call is made of.  It is usually a thin round disc of natural slate set in to a sound chamber of some sort.  In the past, a slate call was a slate call, but now the slate call has taken on a much broader scope.

There are many different combinations of sufaces and pot styles to choose from.
Photo by: Author
In today's age of technology, manufacturers of turkeys calls are using all different types of materials to reproduce the vocalizations of the wild hen turkey.  It is no longer just slate.  Materials such as aluminum, copper, glass, crystal, are a common site, while manmade and manufacturer specific materials such as Slate-tek, and Frictionite are finding their way into the hands of turkey hunters as well.

There are countless combinations of slate and wood, glass and plastic, and manmade materials and whatever,  that all sound good.  Each manufacturers will tell you that theirs is the best, but it's up to you to find out which one you think sounds best, and it's also up to you to find out which one the turkey your hunting likes best.

Parts of a Pot n Peg, or Slate Style Call

There are three basic parts to a pot n peg, or slate style call.  There is the surface of the call, which can be made of slate, glass, aluminum, etc.  There is the pot of the call, which is most commonly made of  wood or plastic, but can be made of other manmade or natural materials as well.  And there is the peg, or the striker, which can be made of wood, plastic, aluminum, graphite, and more.  Each of these materials mentioned above can be switched around in any way to created a multitude of sounds.

This particular call shows three calling surfaces in one call. This will allow for three different sounds.
Photo by: Author
The surface of the call, no matter what material is being used, is usually a flat, round disc, and only fractions of an inch thick.  It is textured, or will need to be textured, on the upside to create friction when the striker is dragged across it.  It is set in to the pot section of the call and is usually held in place with some sort of adhesive.

Tip:  Never touch the surface of the call with your bare hands.  The oils from your skin will stay on the call, make it slippery, and reduce the friction needed to make the call work.

The pot section of the call is slightly larger in diameter than the surface material, and is in the form of a shallow pot.  With short sides, being no deeper than an inch or two, and a flat bottom, the pot usually has some sort of sound holes along the bottom for sound to escape.

The holes in the bottom of the pot are functional. The allow the sound to escape the call, and should not be covered when calling.
Photo by: Author
These holes come in many different shapes.  Some long, some round, some wide, and some narrow.  They are each specific to the harmonics of the call, and allow for the sound of the call to escape.  

Tip:  When holding the pot in your hand, make sure not to cover the holes.  Doing so will muffle the call, and reduce the distance in which it will reach.  It will also lose its realism, by making it sound muffled.

Strikers look similar to a half length pencil with a short piece of .5" dowel on top.  They come in hundreds of different forms like, all wood strikers, wood strikers with corn cob tops, plastic strikers with wood tops, aluminum with plastic tops, wood strikers with plastic tops, etc ... the sky is the limit.

Strikers, or Pegs, come in many different types of materials, sizes, and combinations. By using multiple strikers on one call, it's possible to sound like different birds.
Photo by: Author
The pencil looking portion of the striker is designed to rub across the surface of the call.  It has a roughed up end to create friction, and is made of some type of material that will allow for some sort of vibration.  The end piece, or top of the striker, is designed to control that vibration.  So the density of the striker, it's length, material, and top, all play a role in how it will make the call sound.

You can have one slate style call and multiple types of strikers, and get a different sound from each one pending on the material.  This is a great way to lighten your load in the woods.  Byt caring a few strikers, you can make one call sound like multiple birds.

Tip:  Teaming up strikers like aluminum, plastic, or carbon, that don't absorb water, with surface materials such as glass, crystal, or aluminum, that do the same thing, is a great way to keep a call that you can use even if it gets wet.

How A Pot n Peg, or Slate Call Works

Holding a striker is very similar to holding a pencil.
Photo by: Author
Your common slate style call is grouped in with other turkey calls known as friction calls, because the sound it makes is created by the friction of two parts.  When the striker is dragged across the surface of the call, is creates friction between the two pieces.  This sound radiates out of the call sounding like a wild turkey.

The peg first needs to have a rough tip to initiate friction upon being moved across the surface.  It is held in one hand, in a similar position to if you were to be writing.  When placing the striker on the surface, it should be held fairly loose, and angled slightly away from you. 

Starting from the edge of the call with a small oval movement towards the center, the striker is dragged.  Speed of the movement, pressure on the striker, and pressure of the striker on the surface of the call will all make a difference in sound.  Work with all three until the correct cadence and pitch is achieved.

By putting more pressure on the striker (gripping it tighter), it will reduce the vibration in the call and tend to give the sound a higher, less raspy tone.  You can also change tone and volume by the amount of pressure you put on the surface of the call with the striker itself.  Putting more pressure will increase volume, and usually create a higher pitch sound as well.

By holding the call up on your finger tips, it allows the sound to escape through the holes in the pot. This allows the call to sound its best.
Photo by: Author
The sound holes on the bottom of the call are very functional.  Created in a specific size for each call, these holes allow the sound to escape from the call.  Covering them can decrease the effectiveness of the call, and change the overall tone as well.  Be sure to allow these holes to stay unobstructed while using the call in the field.

Choosing The Correct Slate Call:

Although there are some slate style calls that certainly sound more "turkey" than others, I can recall multiple times in the woods when I have heard the sound of the most horrendous sounding yelp approaching me.  I have just stood there, waiting to have my hunt cut short by some hacker with a call chirping his way through the woods hoping to strike a tone deaf gobbler, and been picked off by a fully mature adult hen that could have been dragging along a boyfriend. 

The lesson here is, you never know what a "real" turkey sounds like, because they all sound different.  You will also never know what that big ol' longbeard wants to hear, so all we can do is try to be as prepared as possible each time we hit the woods, and hope for the best when we get there.  So if a call sounds good to you, and you have confidence in it, run it, and see what happens.

My final recommendation in choosing a pot n peg style call would be to have a variety.  Choose one that you really like the sound of, and maybe get a couple different strikers to go with it.  This will change up the sound a little and allow you to sound like a couple different birds.  Also, pick one that will allow you to run it in adverse conditions.  A call that will run wet is a great thing to have.  It doesn't take a rainy day to have some sort of moisture got on your slate and render it useless.  Keeping a call made of glass or aluminum, with a synthetic striker that you can run wet can salvage a hunt, and choosing a couple strikers for that call wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Hope this helps you out next time your thinking about picking up a pot n peg style call to put in your vest.  Best of luck this season, and Hunt Hard, and Hunt Safe. 

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