Turkey calls, made in northeastern Pennsylvania, have a unique design that transformed the capabilities of traditional box calls.
However, Cutting Edge Game Calls, owned by Brian Benolken of Bangor, Northampton County, has a revolutionary design that allows hunters to use both the top and bottom of the call.
Developed by avid turkey hunter Eric Steinmetz of Stroudsburg, the 4-Play Call has a wheel on the front that allows the paddle to move either side of the call.
The hunter can use four sides of the box, as opposed to two or one as in a typical box call. “Hence the shameless name 4-Play,” Benolken said of the calls turkeys use to attract them during their spring mating season.
The 2016 patent granted for the design allows the paddle to not only use the four sides, but to touch each of the rails in different places. The paddle has no fixed attachment point.
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For more than 100 years, wooden box calls have had a basic design of a paddle banging against a rail or two. It’s a design that has attracted countless turkeys across the United States and beyond.
On top of that, the rails are each made of different types of wood to create more variety of sounds. The Call includes a white oak top and ribs made from walnut, eastern red cedar, sassafras and poplar. From there, the customer can choose the body wood type they like best, including walnut, cherry, and mahogany.
A professional woodworker for 35 years, Benolken makes the parts for the calls which he sells online at 4playturkeycall.com and on sports shows. “Each call, like any other box call, has its own little personality,” Benolken said.
The call works well for early season, but because it has unique tones that are higher pitched than some other calls, it’s also good for call-shy birds later in the season. “It works on call-shy birds,” he said, as well as the birds you might encounter on opening day.
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“It’s basically a little musical instrument,” he said of the time it takes to get each call just right.
The call is for those who want a higher quality product than what you would find in the sporting goods section of a department store.
“It’s a high-end call, but since I was in Nashville (during a turkey fair), it’s not a high-end call from a cost standpoint,” Benolken said. The 4-Play ranges from $125 to $225 for a Collector’s Edition. He said there were many call designs at shows, and some cost well over $300. “I cater to those who want both a nice call and a great sounding call.”
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He said his call also appeals to those looking for something new to add to their collection. “They see the benefit of having more sounds and more skills at their fingertips than a standard boxcall.”
The 4-Play was sold to hunters in 46 states through 4playturkeycall.com. “I have pictures of birds from all over the country brought in with the call and harvested,” Benolken said. “It’s definitely something that works.”
Brian Whipkey is the outdoor columnist for USA TODAY Network’s websites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at [email protected] and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter via email from your website home page using your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.