Tools of the Trade

• Box calls

Box calls are the loudest of the bunch. On a windy day, it’s best to use one so the sound carries farther. According to Saale, box calls are the most realistic sounding. “To me, a box call sounds like a turkey more than anything,” he said. “It does all of the vocalizations. It’s got a good high front end with a raspy sound to it.”

• Pot calls

Good for most situations, a pot call emits just about any turkey vocalization except a gobble. A pot call sounds realistic and is easy to use, which is perfect for beginners. Typically, you can find pot calls in three designs: aluminum, slate and glass. When it’s dry out, Saale said he prefers slate. However, on humid or wet days, opt for a glass call because it will produce the most realistic sound, and the slate will squeak. Aluminum can prove to be a bit harder to use for a beginner, but once mastered is just as good as the rest.

• Diaphragm calls

Also known as a mouth call, it takes some practice to be proficient with one. This particular method is hands-free, which means it’s a favorite of many hunters. “That’s the biggest advantage of a mouth call,” Saale said. “You can be looking down the gun barrel and keep calling to him, all without having to ever move. Moving when he’s in close range is how he’ll bust you.”

• Locator calls

Locator calls serve only one purpose: Shocking the gobbler while its on the roost and getting it to respond right as the hunt begins so you can pinpoint its exact location. An owl hooter and crow call work best. Saale said he’ll often make an owl sound with his mouth, but only if he knows that turkeys are close by. Otherwise, the calls carry farther in the woods.

Jonathan Olivier
About Jonathan Olivier 36 Articles
Jonathan Olivier is a devoted journalist with a focus on the environment and outdoor recreation. His passion for hunting, backpacking and wilderness conservation has taken him from the swamps of Louisiana to the mountains of Colorado.

Tools of the trade

“Wrestl’in” catfish demands a few specialized tools. The piggin stick, described elsewhere, is important for more than riling up catfish. It is used in communication.

If the diver waves the end where the rope is normally snapped to above water, it means that he has lost the end of his rope. If he waves the end with the bolts, it means he needs help in the water.

These divers always use tanks. Most of the time they contain compressed air, but nitrox may also be used. It is easier on older divers. They won’t be as tired at the end of the day, but it costs twice as much as compressed air. Large 90-cubic-foot bottles are used to fill the smaller “ponies” that the divers use in action.

Each tank has a mouthpiece and regulator and each diver wears a buoyancy compensator vest. A mask is invariably used, not to aid vision — the clearest lake water is too murky to see much, but rather to simply keep water out of the diver’s eyes.

Each diver is shod with tennis or dive shoes, and they wear stainless steel fillet gloves, both to protect their hands from rough metal on the tank and from a catfish’s sandpaper-like tooth pads.

Jerald Horst
About Jerald Horst 942 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.

Tools of the trade

The Slimeslinger travels light, with all his tools in a single plastic tool box. Naturally enough, the man’s most important tools are his knives. He only carries three kinds, and none of them are the scimitar that one would imagine that he would need to clean a 100-pound tuna.

Most used is an F. Dick Stiff Boning Blade Knife, model number 3990-15. This is the knife used to make all filleting cuts on a fish, no matter how large the fish. Richoux is prone to make his cuts shallow on the first pass, and then come back and make them deeper, so he can clean the largest fish with a 6-inch blade.

Next most used is his F. Dick Flex Knife, model number 8 2981 15, also 6 inches long. The metal in the blade of this knife is much thinner and the blade is much more flexible. This is the knife he uses to knock the skin off the fillets.

Both knives are made of surgical steel, he explains, the same thing as is in scalpels. Stamped on the blades are the words “high carbon,” but they don’t stain or rust.

Neither of these knives can be purchased locally, says Richoux, who orders his from I&L Specialty Cutlery in Sarasota, Fla.

“Ask for Larry Cohen,” advises Richoux, as if referring to a neighbor. “I get 4 or 5 years out of an F. Dick knife,” he adds, “unless I hit a nail or drop it overboard.”

The third knife is a wicked-looking, serrated Dexter Russell 8-inch Tiger Edge Utility Knife, model number SG142/8TE. These, which he calls “shark-tooth knives,” are purchased from Richard’s Restaurant Supply Inc., in Houma.

This knife is used for cutting hard-boned fish rib cages, cleaning sharks and for steaking mackerel. It is also the knife that he turns to for removing snapper throats, one of his favorite delicacies.

The tool box holds two sharpening steels, one a medium steel and the other a finishing steel.

“Never sharpen a knife on a stone — always use a steel,” he directs as much as explains. “I don’t use a knife until it gets dull.”

Richoux uses one piece of protective gear to reduce the risk of cuts from the sharp cutlery, a Dexter Russell Sani-Safe Cut Resistant Glove on the hand opposite the one handling the knife. These he purchases at Richard’s as well, but he admits that they are available elsewhere.

Finally, he carries a supply of zipper-style plastic bags and an indelible marker to write the name of the fish on the bags.

Jerald Horst
About Jerald Horst 942 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.