Maker of turkey box calls uses historic wood for distinctive sound. Here’s his tips on how to use them.
With his deeply dropping mustache and six-and-a-half foot presence, Ralph Jensen stands out anywhere turkey hunters gather. However, his distinctive box calls are his true hallmark.
He makes them from historic woods, including one from red cedar with highly figured wood. Mike Marsh decorated it as a Christmas tree in his yard along a prominent Wilmington road when it was alive.
When it died of unknown causes, he harvested its wood on the stump, retaining its vivid, purple color. Jensen uses it to handcraft his “Mike Marsh Christmas Tree” calls.
“If I am going to the effort of making a call, I want to use a wood of special origin such as a gunstock or River Wood, which is old-growth pine or cypress that has been on the bottom of the Cape Fear River for 200 years,” Jensen said. “I have made them from the beams of historic buildings and teak from the deck of the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship. Special wood gives each call a distinctive sound. That is what you need to bring in a gobbler in today’s hard-hunted turkey woods.”
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Jensen may inlay mammoth ivory or piano key ebony into a lid because its size lends itself well to decoration. However, the reason he hunts with a box call is effectiveness.
“I use it as a locator call because it makes such loud clucks and yelps,” he said. “It even makes gobbles, but is still so sensitive I can make the softest clucks and purrs. When a gobbler draws close, I put it on the ground opposite the way he is coming from so he won’t see the movement, resting it on its side to keep the lid from hitting the soundboard.”
To run a box call, Jensen rests the bottom in the palm of his hand without his fingers touching the soundboards (sides), which would muffle the sounds.
He holds the lid handle between the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand. While many hunters hold a box call with the lid handle pointed upward and flop it between two fingers, Jensen said gobblers could spot the movement.
“By gripping the handle tightly and holding it in my lap, I can increase or decrease the pressure, making calls louder or softer in response to what the gobbler is responding to,” he said. “He can’t see the subtle movements I make with my hands because the call is hidden by my legs.”
Jensen’s motto is, “For a call with class, go with The ‘Stache.” For more information, visit R.H. Jensen Game Calls at rhjensengamecalls.com.