by Glen Wunderlich
USA -(AmmoLand.com)- The demand for turkey calls has exploded commensurately with the population of turkeys and that of turkey hunters.
New calls are mass produced routinely in China and marketed as the latest and greatest “must haves” to hunters that desperately seek to become today’s Pied Pipers of Turkeyville, USA.
Will they get the job done? Sure. But, for the more discriminating among us, custom American-made calls enter the realm of collectible heirlooms much like a finely crafted firearm is handed down through generations.
Rodney Hairell of Texas loves working with wood and has turned his passion into a homegrown business: Big D Custom Calls. He produces one-of-a-kind predator, deer, duck, crow, owl, and my favorite, turkey calls. All of his calls come with a certifiable WOW factor and are available in an astounding variety of some 200 species of wood from around the globe.
What sets these calls apart from those in the local Cheap Mart begins with the wood itself. Much of it is in burl configuration that can be problematic, because it may be unstable in its raw form and can actually break apart when being turned on a lathe. Rodney begins the process of stabilization by injecting a polymer resin at a cost of up to $100 per gallon into the wood, but not before baking it in an oven at 200 degrees for 24 to 36 hours. Once the moisture is eliminated, the resin is added and then enclosed in a vacuum chamber for a period of hours to days depending on the porosity of the wood. Then it’s back in the oven at a lower temperature to complete the process of preparing the wood.
Once the piece has been turned and sanded, a special finish is applied. It must not only withstand the effects of weather, but the finish must be impervious to the active ingredient in insect repellant, DEET, which can destroy plastics and other synthetics. Since Rodney’s calls feature some of the most spectacular varieties and colors of wood, he wants a finish that doesn’t discolor the authentic character of the chosen specimen. Oh, yes. It has to shine like glass, as well, and this requires sanding with up to 12,000 grit paper.
So, we get it, Glen. They look great. But, can they actually call wild game? Rodney’s calls sound as good as they look and they’ve been recognized by aficionados for realistic sound reproduction. But, I had to find out for myself with one example of his turkey pot calls made from green dyed, stabilized Big Leaf maple burl with its corresponding striker of the same wood top but with a unique Purple Heart rod. Not only is it easy to master technique, but it’ll cut, purr, and yelp with the best. If ever there was a conversation piece, this gem (and, that’s what it resembles) can sure strike up a dialog.
If you want something more than utilitarian plastic – something to be cherished for life and beyond – Big D’s calls are user friendly and made to order.
About Glen Wunderlich:
Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM).