The little turkey call that could

Cedar Hill’s Little Scratch Box will help you talk turkey this spring.

Turkey hunting is perhaps the most-challenging outdoor sport. You have to learn to “talk” like your target, then you have to convince a wary, sharp-eyed gobbler to strut into shotgun range. You can camouflage yourself, but you can’t hide in a big blind, and any movement will send the turkey racing away faster than a speeding bullet.

That means you need to master talking turkey with a really good call, and you have to use it with a minimum amount of movement. That’s the itch that led life-long turkey hunter Jerry Antley of Downsville to come up with his signature Cedar Hills Game Calls “Little Scratch Box.”

It’s the little call that could.

“It took some work, but it has the same sound as a bigger call,” Antley said of the 2-inch cedar box that you can easily hold and then slip into your shirt pocket when you are done. “We worked a long time to get the sound down as close to a real turkey as we could. We tested it and let the turkeys tell us when we got it right.”

The Little Scratch Box proved its worth where it counts — in the woods.

Practice, practice, practice

The Little Scratch Box is great for close-in calling and can make a beautiful purring sound that drives big toms crazy. Handmade from 100% pure cedar, it requires a CH13 chalk stick. Antley, who has won numerous National Wild Turkey Federation calling contests and has been a leader at various organizational levels for NWTF, said to use your chalk generously and hold the striker stick between your thumb and middle finger. Gently drag the beveled edge of the striker at a 45-degree angle over the thin edge of the call. Most box calls are 6 to 8 inches long and have hinged lids that are moved to make the sound. The Little Scratch Box makes a big sound with very little movement.

Antley said that you can’t just pick the call up and go to the woods without practice, and to have confidence, you have to learn by either listening to some sort of CD or video or go with someone who is an expert. Today, there are plenty of YouTube videos that can help you get started.

“Turkey hunting is special, because it is just hard to beat the one-on-one challenge of you and the bird,” Antley said. “It’s the fact that when you are calling that turkey, and he’s calling you back, it’s just amazing. You are carrying on a conversation from 300 to 400 yards away. He calls. You call. Sometimes, it’s only a few minutes. Sometimes, it is hours. The main key is patience, confident patience. And to be successful, you’ve got to talk him up close — like 40 yards away — to get a shot. There’s more that can go wrong than can go right.”

There is one other thing that is vital to successful turkey hunting with the Little Scratch Box.

“Learn to make all the sounds that a turkey makes,” he said. “Study up on when to use which one. And you have to learn to locate turkeys and get where they are. I don’t care how good you are on the Little Scratch Box, you can’t call in turkeys where there aren’t any.”

Three keys calls

The Little Scratch Box proved its worth where it counts — in the woods.

Antley said three key calls you need to learn are all hen calls:  yelps, clucks and purrs. The yelp is the No. 1 mating call of the hen. The cluck and purr are soft “contentment” calls turkeys use to let other turkeys know everything is okay. There is another call — the gobble — but Antley rarely uses that, because he doesn’t want other hunters hearing it, then easing up through the woods and seeing something moving around up in the bushes, especially if that something moving is you.

“I seldom use the gobble unless it’s a last step, and I am trying to get a big gobbler in the final few yards by making him jealous and thinking another gobbler is moving in on his hens. Never use it repeatedly,” he said.

When using the Little Scratch Box, you don’t have to wait until the turkey gets within sight to know what you are calling. Antley said it comes with experience, but a big gobbler has a long, deep raspy gobble. A younger jake will make shorter, less gruff gobbles.

More than 100,000 Little Scratch Box calls have been sold. Antley also produces the Cedar Hill Hen, Bayou Thunder and Super Double Glass call.

About Kinny Haddox 597 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.