New Turkey Toys for 2012—Mouth Call Reviews

I received an email earlier this week from a turkey hunter who was looking to get some new mouth calls, and they had read an earlier post where I had mentioned that I now owned some Woodhaven mouth calls.  They reminded me (politely) that I had promised a more in-depth review of the product which as of this week was undelivered.

Since there hasn’t been much doing around here for turkey activity (and I’ve been scouting pretty hard…but that’s another post) I thought now would be as good a time as any to post up my thoughts on these calls.  I haven’t had a chance to test these out on any turkeys yet, but I have had three months to practice with them, so consider this a mid-term review.
From L-R: Woodhaven’s Copperhead 2, Copperhead, and Red Wasp
As I alluded to earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to receive a Woodhaven Customs Calls TKM (Turkey Killing Machines) three pack this past Christmas.  At first glance, they are as sexy a mouth call (aesthetically) as I’ve seen.  After doing some online research that may be a bit pricey compared to some other brands of mouth calls, but according the Woodhaven’s website, professional hands touch every call so like anything, craftsmanship comes at a price.  The three calls included in the pack are the Red Wasp, the Copperhead, and the Copperhead 2.  Each is different, and each can be purchased individually (as opposed to buying the whole three-pack), so I’ll briefly share what I found each call to be like.
The Red Wasp is billed as “great for raspy cutts and yelps” and a call that is “very raspy and bold like an old hen”.  No arguments from me.  A red latex reed with a V-cut overlays two thinner clear reeds, and the tape is flexible but not too soft, which I like because I find the tape on some other mouth calls I’ve bought from the Big-Four manufacturers (HS, Primos, Knight & Hale, and Quaker Boy…I’ve owned them all) starts off a little too soft and after a couple of hunts betwixt cheek and gum the tape begins to separate from the frame or break down.  No such problems yet with the Red Wasp (or the others for that matter) and I’ve been practicing nightly for the last couple of months.  This call is set up pretty stiff and so far the reeds have retained good snap and tension.  I prefer a stiff call so out of the three, this one is my favourite so far…which was why I started with it.  If the call has a downfall it is that it is too sensitive, which is likely a function of being a bit on the stiff side.  If you have too much pressure on the reeds they tend to squeal a bit.  Too little pressure and the call gets muted or even just goes silent.  It took some getting used to, so for a mouth diaphragm beginner this call might not be suitable.  After some consistent practice though, the call goes from soft tree yelps and purrs right to the loudest, raspiest cutting pretty easily.  If you don’t like stiff calls or are just looking to start out with a mouth call then the Red Wasp might just frustrate you, but if you already have some know-how running a mouth call, this one is probably the most versatile of the three in the pack.
To be blunt, the Copperhead is probably my least favourite call in this pack, but it is still as good, or better, than most mouth calls I’ve had.  The call has an orange latex reed with a silky finish and a snake-tongue cut that is laid over two clear reeds.  Again, I love the tape job, but what I dislike about the call (the only negative really) is that it is a uni-tasker; I find it to be an ultra-loud call with serious rasp and good cutting and this is probably ideal for shocking a distant tom into gobbling, calling to a fired up and aggressive tom, or on windy days.  In fact, I’ll very likely use it in those exact scenarios this season, but I find it tough to change volumes on and I think it is the worst at purring of the three, which is less than ideal for those situations where you need some subtle ‘finishing’ calls.  I’m not a fan of switching out mouth calls when a bird is coming in, and although I’ll do it, I’m also not big on carrying two calls in my mouth at once.  If you’ve mastered subtlety on this call, then good for you.  I haven’t yet.  Also somewhat troubling, but not really a big deal yet, is that the bottom clear reed has started to pucker already.  This is likely a factor of the tongue pressure I find I’m using to ratchet up the raspiness on this call making it an operator problem not a call problem per se, and it has not yet been detrimental to the call’s sound so like I said, no big deal…just worth noting if you’re like me and exert a lot of pressure and wind on a call.  Yes, I sometimes call loud and I almost always call often.  If volume is all you’re looking for than the Copperhead will be great for you.
According to the product specs, The Copperhead 2 “features a special yellow and orange latex combo with a new ‘snake-tongue-combo cut’” in the top reed.  The one that came with my TKM 3-pack has the combo cut and the yellow latex, but my other reeds are clear, not orange.  Don’t ask me why…Production error?  Just ran out of orange reeds?  Who knows?  I’m not too concerned though because the call still runs well.  I’ve found that the Copperhead 2 is a nice medium between the Red Wasp and the Copperhead; with a broad range of volumes and rasp the only thing that the Red Wasp does better than the Copperhead 2 is purr.  It goes from tree yelps to plain yelps to cackles smoothly.  It doesn’t purr badly, if not just a bit inconsistently, and the cutting is nice and crisp.  A good all-around call, just as stiff as the Red Wasp, but like I said, just a bit tough to get consistent purrs; it does however have the best kee-kee of all the calls in the pack so that’s a win.
So there you have it.  To say I have an embarrassment of options at my disposal this year in terms of mouth calls would be an understatement.  It’s always going to be a toss-up between the Red Wasp and Copperhead 2 for the starting job this year, but it is nice to know that on a windy day I can jack up the volume on the Copperhead.
Of course, as with most reviews, this is strictly what I’ve found.  There may be those of you out there with loyalties to other call manufacturers, or those who have had completely opposite experiences to what I’ve had with the above calls.  What will be really telling is how they fare some early morning in April or on a sunny May afternoon when I get to put the call out to a love-sick gobbler.  That will be the true litmus test of the worth of these calls, and I look forward to writing more about them here.

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