Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
Wing Bone Calls Provide Link to Turkey Hunting Heritage
Most people purchase their turkey calls at a retail outlet or from an online catalog. Outdoor enthusiast, Dave Thomas gets his calls straight from the woods.
Skilled woodsman and longtime Police Chief of Lake Mills, Iowa, Thomas has a long running passion for pursuing elk, white-tails, and wild turkeys with traditional archery equipment. In addition to crafting highly reliable bows and knives, Dave has recently begun making incredibly effective turkey calls from the wing bones of the birds he bags. A centuries old tool of the hunt, turkey wing bone calls were historically used by Native Americans to lure wary gobblers into bow range. Simple but elegant, the finished product turns out a sound that is – well, is real enough to fool a turkey. Far from outdated, wing bone calls are as effective today as when they were first invented.
After I bagged a bird during our Nebraska hunt last spring, Thomas offered to make me a call from one of the wings. I jumped at the chance. When I saw the finished product a few weeks ago, I drooled over the prospects of a 2015 “Equipment Field Test”.
I got my chance last week when Thomas and I returned to one of our favorite Nebraska turkey haunts – a six square mile tract of sandhill brush country. The results of the outing were more than I had dared hope for. During the course of a three morning hunt, I had a total of 33 turkeys come within range – the majority approaching to within 10 yards or less. Sixteen of those birds [8 gobblers and 8 jakes] were legal males.
Most turkey calls have their beginning on a noisy factory production line. But the most intriguing – and I’ll also say the most effective – yelpers have their origin in the natural woodlands. If you’re one of those hunters who like to build things – You know, the creative type; then perhaps the construction of a wing bone turkey call might be something you should try. If you’re not a craftsman – like me – you might want to get close to someone who is.
Obtaining the basic raw materials and eventually utilizing your completed wing bone yelper to call in a magnificent full strut gobbler becomes a highly personal outdoor experience. From start to finish, the endeavor is nothing short of an adventure in itself.