Skip to main content

Make a conversation starter for turkeys at Fort Smith nature center workshop

BY Randy Zellers

ON 02-20-2019


Feb. 20, 2019

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

FORT SMITH — The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center will hold a special turkey hunting workshop that will focus on turkey calling at 6 p.m., March 8. Not only will participants learn the basics of how to attract turkeys with a friction call, they’ll build their own call they can use to chase down their bird.

The yelp of a hen turkey may sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to some people, but to male turkeys it’s a siren song. Over the years, hunters have imitated these sounds with all sorts of instruments, but one of the most popular is a wooden striker dragged across a piece of slate or glass that’s mounted on a soundboard to amplify the vibration. Participants in this workshop will use materials provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to create their own working call under the direction of Chad Lowe, an AGFC education program specialist and resident turkey hunter at the nature center. 

“We’ll give workshop attendees the slate material as well as a plastic base and a soundboard to glue together,” Lowe said. “We’ll also make our own strikers from oak dowels. Then we’ll rough up the surface of the slate with a piece of sandpaper and start working on our technique.”

Lowe says many different sounds can be made from the slate call that will be created, and they can be extremely effective with a little practice. 

In addition to building a call, workshop attendees will learn a little about turkey anatomy and their life history. The more knowledge hunters have about their target, the more they can adjust their hunting techniques to increase success. 

“[The nature center] has 10 to 15 hunting-focused in-depth workshops similar to this on all sorts of species each year in addition to all the standard outreach we offer,” Lowe said. “We try to offer a good balance of watchable wildlife, boating and paddling as well as hands-on hunting and angling here at the nature center.”

Being an avid turkey hunter, Lowe carries one of the calls made in the workshop in his vest every time he heads to the field. 

“This is a great friction call, and I’ve used one of these exact ones to harvest a bird in Arkansas,” Lowe said. “Of course this is just one of many tools a turkey hunter may need.”

Lowe jokingly calls his call collection he carries to the woods his “arsenal.”

“There’s no telling which sound a particular gobbler will respond best to, so I carry a variety of calls to sound like different birds,” Lowe said. “But one of the best calling techniques I have is to just go and listen before you start trying to entice a gobbler. If you can find a bird that is already calling naturally, he’s going to be much more receptive to your sounds than one you have to gobble from a shock call to locate.”

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter E-mails

Don’t miss another issue. Sign up now to receive the AGFC Wildlife Weekly Newsletter in your mailbox every Wednesday afternoon (Waterfowl Reports are published weekly during waterfowl season and periodically outside the season). Fishing Reports arrive on Thursdays. Fill in the following fields and hit submit. Thanks, and welcome!