Legacy of the Call...
This past weekend I spent some time putting away my turkey gear now that the season is over. I cleaned my guns that were used, washed all of my clothes, and emptied all of the contents of my turkey vest. As I stared at all of my calls laid out on my bench I realized how little my call selection has changed over the years. Most of these calls have been in my vest every spring for over decade. Sure some calls have come and gone during that span but most have remained the same. While they are all a little different and may provide a different sound or purpose, they all have one binding similarity. That is they were made by hand, out of natural wood, and tuned by an American craftsman who not only knows what a turkey sounds like but what it takes to replicate those sounds.
Given the fact that I have a larger than average collection of turkey calls of all shapes, sizes, varieties, and materials; it seemed odd to me, at first, that all of the calls that have made the final cut over the years and actually accompany me on every hunt were the most traditional style calls. Although I never implemented a systematic field testing program where the success and value of each new call was weighed and measured there was certainly some natural attrition at work over the last decade. Maybe I was drawn to the appearance of the beautiful handmade wood calls or maybe the sound was more appealing to my ears. Whatever the process was that lead these calls to remain with me in the woods over the years I am now very thankful for the end result. I could not imagine a day in the turkey woods without my ash striker that I wood burned “Widow Maker” into back in 97’ or the slate/walnut pot call that I watched Harry Blodgett of Blodgett Calls meticulously select for me out of his collection in 02’ or even my plain ole two sided walnut box call. These calls are like shaking hands with old friends every spring when I take them out of storage and put them back into my vest.
I find myself getting more sentimental with age and even more so now that I have a daughter. Knowing this, I am glad that the calls that I have grown attached to over the years aren’t your garden variety plastic calls off of the shelf at Wal-Mart or some fad gadget call made by a machine that has never watched the sunrise on a spring morning. My calls are heirloom quality that I would be proud to see my children or grandchildren carry with them someday. My calls also have a name attached to them. Not some trendy, creative marketing driven, over the top, or generic name, but the name of guy who built them. Those names are important to me because I know that anyone who puts their name on call puts pride into the workmanship involved and would be proud to know that I am having quality days afield from their efforts. When I use a hand stretched mouth call from Lucas Melm at Woodhaven or my cousin Jeremy Hall I know it was built by guys who know how to sound like a turkey in the woods and on a competition stage. The mouth call may not have a fancy name but when they hand it to me and say use this one, I know it is good. I am also anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first Pat Strawser Custom box call. Which in time I hope becomes the next heirloom call in my vest. He makes some of the prettiest calls I have ever seen and given Pat’s legendary hunting and calling reputation I am sure they sound like they have feathers. You will not often find me name dropping people in my blogs and I don’t normally promote specific brands unless I truly believe in the product. In this case the brand is the man. When searching for the next call for your turkey vest skip the aisle at Mega Mart and find an American craftsman. One who is concerned with the quality of your hunt and takes pride in knowing that he is contributing to your turkey hunting legacy.
When it comes time for me to pass my turkey vest off to the next generation it will be with great pride that I share these quality calls and legendary names. Is your turkey hunting legacy made of plastic and stamped China or will it be timeless and strong as oak?
Corey J. Wilkinson