At a previous BHA Rendezvous, we had the chance to sit down and talk turkeys with Jason Phelps, the owner of Phelps Game Calls. Jason is a hard-core turkey hunter and elk hunter who designs all kinds of calls for elk, turkeys, and other game animals.
Jason offered up some tips for the use, care, and maintenance of diaphragm, or mouth calls. Diaphragm calls consist of a rigid inner frame and a pliable outer frame that supports a latex reed. The call is placed on the roof of the mouth and forced air (hopefully) makes a realistic hen sound that will bring in a gobbler. Utilizing this call allows you to stay hands-free to utilize your shotgun and call at the same time.
Q: How long should a hunter expect a diaphragm call to last?
A: Turkey Calls can last up to 2 to 3 years if cared for correctly.
The two parts of the call that can fail are the latex and the tape. The latex will wear out over time and the tape can delaminate if not allowed to dry.
Q: What are some care and maintenance tips for diaphragm calls?
A: Wash the calls off with clean water and allow them to dry. Then place small plastic reed separators (a toothpick broke in half will work) between the individual layers of latex to separate and allow to dry. Then place the calls in the freezer.
DO NOT store the calls in direct sunlight or near high heat. The latex in the calls is very sensitive to UV and the latex will break down very fast.
Q: When do you know a call is shot other than the reed being ripped?
A: Diaphragm turkey calls with latex do wear out over time. The best way to tell that a call is starting to wear out is the lack of a high sharp note. The call should be replaced when the high notes can no longer be reached with a caller’s increased air pressure.
Many consider mouth diaphragms a disposable piece of gear and plan on buying new calls every year but if you take care of them it’s possible to get multiple seasons out of one call.
Q: Any way to avoid getting that nasty sore throat when you’re calling a lot?
A: Clean your calls after each hunt. Drinking water throughout the day and keeping your throat from becoming dry is the best advice to keeping your throat from becoming dry while calling all day.
Q: Is there a certain diaphragm call type a beginner should look for?
A: Ease of use should be the most important factor when a beginner is picking out a diaphragm call. They should look for calls that don’t require much air to operate.
Double reeds, calls built with lighter latex and calls with large cuts or set back bottom reeds are typically easier to run. All of these aspects require less air to operate the call.