18-11-13 turkey caller+It is currently mid-season for turkey hunting in California. The smart toms by this time have become jaded to the previously persuasive squawks and clucks generated by commercially available box,  diaphragm, and rattle callers. Enterprising hunters therefore may turn to a homemade device that Native Americans began using at least 6500 years ago–the wing bone turkey caller.

To make one, clean, dry, and save the three long wing bones from last year’s trophy, or you can purchase the same bones ready-to-go on Etsy. At first glance, the shafts of these three bones are cylindrical, but on scrutiny they are faintly conical. First, saw off the ends of each and use a wire to clean out the spongy interiors. With a bit of filing, the narrow end of one bone will fit nicely into the wide end of the next larger one. Seal the junctions, and voila, a primitive trumpet.


Well, not exactly. To attract your Thanksgiving dinner, first position yourself in a safe location where turkeys will not swarm you. Then place the small end of the caller between your pursed lips and make a quick series of kissing sounds. While doing so, open and close your cupped hands around the caller’s open end to vary the resonance, pitch, and intensity of the sound, which is best described as a yelp. Hear what I mean (one minute YouTube video). 

Wing bones from wild turkeys are said to work much better than those from grocery-store birds, which probably were entirely flightless and therefore never developed any serious bulk to their wing bones. To challenge the advice that wild is better, I salvaged the bones from a baked chicken and made what may be the world’s first wing bone chicken caller. It seems durable enough and produces a higher pitched yelp than my turkey caller. I have not yet tried it outside so I am unsure of its effectiveness.

For those who will be dining this month on tofu turkey and who are averse to the idea of using an animal part to hunt the original owner’s offspring, a plastic straw works pretty well too.  Try it. You will delight everyone at the holiday table.

Later, if conversation wanes, consider discussing the contents of last year’s seasonal post: Twelve No-Fail Conversation Starters Regarding Wishbones.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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