The Best Turkey Call You've Never Used

posted on April 8, 2019

I could see his hands moving, but the sweet sound coming from the ancient scratch box was barely audible—at least to me. Across the beaver swamp, the old gobbler heard every note and answered with a thunderous double-gobble that caused the hair on my neck to stand straight up. “He will be here directly,” whispered Charles Hudson through his facemask. “You best get ready.”

Of all the calls turkey hunters can carry in their vests, perhaps the one that is most overlooked is the scratch box. Many hunters have never seen a scratch box much less used one, but its effectiveness in the turkey woods spans centuries. The scratch box is thought to date back to the late 1700s or early 1800s. It still works today for savvy hunters like Hudson. (Pictured above: Little Big Mouth Scratch Box, $12.95;

The two-piece design consists of a thin box made from cedar, mahogany or other hardwood, along with a striker (scratcher) made from a different wood or material. The striker is slid across the soundboard of the box (or vice-versa) to imitate the sound of a turkey. It’s called a scratch box because the two pieces “scratch” together.

The main difference between the scratch box and the more common box call is the latter has a connected lid or paddle. With the scratch box they are two different pieces, which makes the call more versatile. Switching from a cedar scratcher to one made from holly or even carbon can change the tone. Hudson prefers a carbon scratcher: “It makes the raspy sound I like and it also allows me to whisper to the gobbler instead of scream at him.”


Hammer IHEA USA Gladney Davidson Memorial Award Lead
Hammer IHEA USA Gladney Davidson Memorial Award Lead

Marion Hammer Receives International Hunter Education Association’s Gladney Davidson Memorial Award

At its 51st annual conference, the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) bestowed its highest honor—the Gladney Davidson Memorial Award—on Marion Hammer for her significant contributions to hunter education.

Shadow Hunter Introduces Marksman 6X6 Blind

Shadow Hunter’s most popular multi-hunter blind, the Marksman 6X6 Blind can carry hunters from solo archery sits to rifle hunts with friends.

First Look: Davidson's Exclusive Savage 110 Magpul Hunter

The Savage 110 Magpul Hunter gets the Davidson’s Exclusive treatment in the latest offering from Davidson’s.

Hardware: Prime Inline 5

Prime’s new Inline 5 is aggressive and fast, but it is also easy to shoot and superbly consistent.

#SundayGunday: Franchi Instinct Sideplate

Get a closer look at the Franchi Instinct Sideplate, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Know-How: Sharpen a Knife

Other than a gun or bow, a knife is about the most important tool a hunter may carry. Of course it must be sharp to be useful. Here’s how to put a good edge on it.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.