Now is the time to tune up; By John Martino




Now is the time to tune up. By: John Martino One of the best ways to fight isolation or sheltering in place is to get outside. There is plenty of space for social distancing. And with this year’s upcoming wild turkey hunting season just around the corner, now is the time to start making preparations. For the last 11 months they have sat in the dark, lacking any special attention. They have desperately needed some human interaction. What I am talking about are turkey calls. Those items, which will be so important in a few short weeks, have been in your turkey vest for the better part of the year, stashed next to the year old candy bar you forgot to take out. Now is the time for some spring cleaning? Let’s start with diaphragm calls. Because of their more delicate construction, many don’t last more than several years. Some may be so dried out and wrinkled they will need to be discarded, just like that old candy bar. Both diaphragm/mouth calls and tube calls use latex reeds to get their rich sounds. The two biggest enemies of latex are sunlight and excessive heat. Therefore, anything you can do to keep your calls cool and dark will help increase their lifespan. Some I know store them in a refrigerator or freezer during the off-season. If you use the freezer, make sure and seal them in an airtight bag to keep out moisture. It doesn't seem to be as necessary if you store them in the refrigerator.  Some people soak their mouth calls in mouthwash during the season to keep them clean. I have never actually done this but I do try to rinse them off with water after every hunt. As for box and other friction type calls, well they may need a little more love if you expect them to trick that big gobbler again this spring. All friction calls need to be tuned from time-to-time. The main enemies of box calls are dirt and grease. Believe it or not the majority comes from your hands. One time years ago I used sand paper to clean the edges of the sounding board and paddle. Inadvertently taking off too much wood I accidently rendered the call useless where the only thing it was good for was kindling. The best method, especially for box calls, is to use a scrubbing pad to clean the call without removing any material. If you insist on using sandpaper make sure it is at least 220 grit or finer. Once that is complete rub a small amount of greaseless chalk on the box lips and paddle. If you think you need to adjust the tension spring do so ever so slightly. Another popular and easy to use call is the push-button. Similar to the box call it will only need a very light cleaning and a bit of greaseless chalk. A good rule of thumb is to never mess with the small, spring wire that provides the tension. They are made to specific tolerances and the only time to adjust them is if you have somehow managed to accidently bend it. Pot-and-peg calls, sometimes called slate calls, usually acquire the most dirt and grease and will need the most maintenance but are the simplest to restore. The purpose here is to rough up the calling surface to get the proper amount of friction between the peg and calling surface. Although many use fine grit sandpaper I have found a drywall sanding screen works even better. One sheet can be cut into tiny squares about the size of a large stamp and last many seasons. Once this is done, remember to never touch the surface with your bare hands. Every once in a while occasionally touch up the tip of the peg. A few short swipes with drywall cloth or sandpaper is usually all it takes to bring back original tones. Our beautiful spring season is now upon us and with that comes turkey hunting season, morel mushrooms and the year’s best fishing. So remember just because most of the stores and restaurants may be closed, our great outdoors are always open. Photo below (Provided0: