A turkey slate call is more commonly referred to as a pot call or peg call. The premise of a slate call is to replicate the sounds turkeys make. You make the call by dragging a wood, glass or graphite peg, or striker, across a piece of slate that is usually cradled in a wood, plastic or graphite pot. Slate calls are among the simplest to use, but require hand movement, which may spook the target turkeys. True slate calls are also affected by humidity and moisture and may not work as expected on damp days.
Different sounds appeal to different turkeys at different times. It is important to learn how turkeys "speak" so you can convincingly "talk" to them with your calls. Sometimes the best way to call a turkey is to copy sounds that other turkeys in the area are making. To make a yelp with your slate call, make dime-sized circles or little lines without lifting your peg from the pot. You can create higher-pitched notes around the outside edge of the pot, and softer, raspier tones near the middle. Clucking and cutting are done similarly, by pulling the peg toward the center of the slate in short strokes. Cutting is achieved by pressing harder on the peg and repeating the short strokes eight to 10 times. To replicate a turkey's purr, pull the peg lightly across the surface of the slate in small semicircles or lines.
While a slate call is easy to master, practicing can help you make the most of it. If you are a hunter, take your turkey calls out when it's not hunting season and determine what you need to do with your call to make the turkeys respond. A call is only as effective as the person using it, so mastering your technique when you aren't under the pressure of hunting can increase your success rate.
For a slate call to respond predictably every time you use it, it must be kept in the same condition for each use. To maximize friction between the peg and the slate, roughen the surface of the slate frequently with fine-grit sandpaper or an abrasive pad. Rub them in only one direction, and never in a circle. Occasionally sand the tip of your peg with emery. Never touch the slate with your fingers and don't allow other oily substances or dust to get on, or remain on the slate.
- turkey image by Terry Reimink from Fotolia.com