Gear Review - FOXPRO Spitfire Electronic Call
In the fall of 2012, we headed to a US vendor early on "Black Friday" looking to pick up one thing: the FOXPRO Spitfire electronic caller, which they were selling for a few hours that morning at a 50% discount. We had used a couple of different electronic callers in the past, even using one successfully to call in a New Brunswick moose in 2010. We felt it was time for an upgrade, and this was going to be it. We each scored a unit at discount rate, and thus began our evaluation period with the FOXPRO Spitfire.
Electronic callers are legal for use on all species with the exception of waterfowl in New Brunswick. Calling is a technique we all used frequently in hunting, but the majority of what we did was manually or through mouth calls. We were interested in having a Spitfire to make our hunts less cumbersome and hoping to make our coyote calling experience much more successful. Just using the example of a whitetail hunt, there would be no more dragging along antlers to rattle, along with a variety of mouth calls requiring more movement to use than often made us comfortable. With the push of a button we could use these calls and more!
Out of the box, the FoxPro Spitfire caller seems well made and solid. There are two components of the caller: a remote that controls the calling, along with a speaker that can be set up a distance away. Setup is easy as the caller comes preprogrammed with 24 popular calls. All you need to do is insert the batteries in each unit and you are ready to go!
Our initial testing of any sound seemed very impressive. We have found that many electronic callers contain a lot of white noise, or have a very “tinny” sound. The FOXPRO Spitfire wasn’t affected by these common ailments.
Manufacturers Claim: Compact, 1.5-lb. horn speaker
In the field:
The compact size and weight of the caller is a great advantage. The speaker with batteries installed weighs a mere 1.5 pounds, making it easy to pack in and out of your hunting location no matter how far away it may be. We found it fit in most of the large pockets that usually come in our hunting jackets or vests. The control unit is even smaller and easy to find room for. We found it perfect for use in the sleeve style hand-protection that we often use now. Couple it with the "text-pak" style that has a window to see the control and it is perfect to operate.
Claim: 24 reprogrammable FoxPro sounds
In the field:
One of our favourite features of the SpitFire are the extremely effective sounds which come preprogrammed on the device. You can back these up and keep them for future use, and we know of many people who have effectively harvested coyotes without changing their sounds.
Claim: External speaker jack
In the field:
We have tested the external speaker, but in practice we found that the Foxpro Spitfire itself has high quality sound at all volumes and we haven’t found a practical use for an attaching an external speaker.
Claim: Powerful Amplifier
In the field:
There is no doubting the power of the Spitfire caller. With 5 volume settings, when you put your device on 5, it is really screaming. As we mention below, we feel that the risk of spooking nearby wildlife is very real when using the highest setting.
Cost: $199.99 Suggested Retail
The FoxPro Spitfire is nearing end of life, generally the sales prices range from $150-$180, and still seems to be available in most stores. On rare occasions, such as a “Black Friday” sale, you can see these on store shelves for $99 as we did.
Real World Thoughts:
The FOXPRO spitfire offers many advantages through the design of a separate control and speaker. We could quickly imagine the benefits it offers and have not been disappointed. One can set up the speaker unit a distance away from where you are seated and begin calling by the push of a button. Volume can be controlled and sounds changed through the remote discretely without much movement.
For big game hunts, we traditionally are perched in a tree stand high above. Rattling and calling from up there in a usual manner means the sound travels well but doesn't exactly sound natural. There isn't much chance of fooling a wary buck that is nearby into thinking two others are fighting way up in the trees. Their cylindrical ears are perfect for pinpointing exactly where the sound originated from, as anyone who has ever had a stand creak beneath them with a deer in front of them will have experienced. With the design of the Spitfire you can place it a fair distance away from you so that the approaching animal keys in on that area rather than you, at a level more natural to them.
As mentioned, the caller holds 24 sounds which are programmed on a micro SD card within the speaker unit. It is possible to reprogram the caller through a simple program available as a free download on the FOXPRO website along with an audio cable. We have done it on numerous occasions with the instructions they provide and it works well. They provide a selection of more than 50 in their free sound library you can try in addition to the ones that come on the caller. Anything else you want can be purchased from them or elsewhere.
The control unit has a backlit LCD screen that displays the call you are using and the sound level as you change it. There are only five buttons on the unit for simple operation: two to move the volume up and two to cycle up and down the sounds, and a fifth button to "send" and confirm your sound selection to the speaker. That fifth button is a great feature enabling you to scroll through the sounds until you find the one that you want before pressing that button and changing it. This way you can let the current one continue and roll right into a new one, which can be handy in many situations.
In practice, we found the Spitfire to be responsive and consistent, with no issues using the control unit while wearing gloves in the deepest of cold. When you push the buttons on the remote, it responds immediately. This is excellent if you have to start or stop calling quickly with an animal approaching. The sounds go from a scale of 1 to 5 and can get loud enough to be heard at any level you would need. We were concerned that at loudest level it may be too loud to be considered realistic. It would be our recommendation to only use the loudest setting on fight or distress type calls rather than normal vocalizations.
The spitfire control uses a single 9v battery and the speaker runs on 4x AA batteries. We found the life span of each to be excellent despite leaving the speaker on throughout hours of sitting in the woods and battery-sapping cold. As with most devices such as this, Lithium batteries provide even better lifespans.
FOXPRO also offers several additional accessories to the caller should you choose to purchase them. The most useful one is perhaps the sound activated spinning varmint decoy. The fabric animals on the accessory are activated when you use the caller and it stops when the sound ceases. This adds an extra element of realism when trying to lure that predator out into the open.
Without a doubt, we can say the FOXPRO does the job it is advertised to do: it fools animals into coming to the calls. Members of the obsession team have used the caller to bring in several whitetails and used it to successfully harvest a buck. In addition, although we have not brought in a wily coyote yet to it, we have no doubt it will work given the right situation. The predator calls bring in a murder of crows in no time, and they are a very difficult bird to fool!
The first negative we have found is the size limitation placed on the SD card. The speaker in the callers we have purchased will not take any size bigger than a 2GB micro SD. These are difficult to find now in stores since everything is available in larger and larger size. This doesn't present a problem if you want to reprogram the card for the seasons and species you are hunting, but if you want to have several cards set up in advance this can create a problem.
Along the same strain, programming the FoxPro Spitfire can be a pain. The process is not difficult, and is laid out fairly well in the included instructions, but there are a number of little caveats you need to be aware of. Firstly, there are four brands of Micro SD card which are not supported. Also, the device must have exactly 24 sounds on it or it will not function at all. For example, if you have a micro SD card you want to load with 10 whitetail sounds, you still must load the card with 14 “fillers” to use the spitfire.
The Bottom Line:
The bottom line is that the FOXPRO Spitfire is a great tool for someone looking to use the technology to improve their success. The caller works as advertised and is worth the purchase whether on sale or at MSRP. It offers excellent value at either price point and is a great tool.
If electronic callers are legal for use in your area on the species you are looking to target, you will get your money's worth and more with the FOXPRO Spitfire!
Contact us and let us know!