Author: Dennis Poeschel
have been asked a number of times about making fancy calls. Most
questions seem to come from callmakers that are looking for something
more challenging to do or to make calls that are in a higher demand
by call collectors. The big question seems to be how do I make that
transition? As I have said before I am not the expert on any of
this nor is my opinion worth more then the paper its written
on. I will however, tell you what I think and why.
No matter what type of call you make you really
need to understand the call and the principles that make it work.
Almost every fancy callmaker out there today got started by making
a serviceable field call. Most custom callmakers use these calls
as their bread and butter selling 90% or more of what they make
as working calls. I think it is very important to establish yourself
as a quality crafts person as a way to develop your name and get
it out there. Winning calling contests by having topnotch callers
use your calls will do you a great service down the road. It is
one thing to make a call the sounds OK and another thing to make
a call that looks fantastic and sounds like the real birds. Strive
to be the very best.
Let's take for example a duck call. You have
been making them for a couple years and you like what you do. Now
you want to challenge yourself and step it up a little. Some of
the first things you might think about are:
- Using very fancy grade and rare woods
to make your calls.
- Add decorative tooled brass bands
to the call.
- Learn to checker. With a little practice
this is easy to do.
- Do a few simply carved calls as you
improve add more detail and depth.
- Laminated calls made from varied
types of woods are classic and highly prized by collectors.
The key is to find things that can set your
work apart from the rest.
need to also discuss the number of calls you make. The more you
make the less collectable they will become. Packaged calls might
hold their value over time but won't increase significantly. A packaged
call is defined as a mass-produced item. This applies if the shapes
are still done by hand but they all look the same. Custom calls
are those that are made primarily by hand with the intention to
detail not available any other way. In most cases these calls are
labors of love to get the sound just right regardless of the time
it takes to make them. With the rare exception calls produced in
the thousands will not become highly valuable. Neil Cost (turkey
callmaker) is the exception. There are thousands of calls on the
market. Although he made a few style calls in very limited quantities
the value of his work can be as much as 100 times what the call
was originally sold for. In this case the man himself was so unique
that his work became highly collectable. Those calls made in very
limited quantities however are very valuable and tend to prove out
the theory of low numbers of production become more collectable.
Limited editions of similar design or decoration
are options that several callmakers have also tried. They might
make a limited run of a special wood combination or with a specific
artistic design. The idea works and as long as the editions are
limited it is an option. There is no real guideline here that works.
I feel although unique that having a number of calls out there that
are the same will reduce their value somewhat.
it comes to fancy call ideas I try and make every call I do very
unique and different I design special shapes or design features.
Creating one of a kind carvings or artwork is important to me. Fully
carved calls are my personal favorites. I will never duplicate a
design and toss the drawing when that project is finished. That
forces me to create new ideas. It is this type of approach that
is going to lead to a very high collector's value. You need to let
your mind wander and the creative juices flow. Calls may take months
or even longer to do. I recently made a call that was started in
May with every intention to complete it quickly as a competitive
entry for 2003. With every sketch I made I became less impressed
and finally set the call aside. In September I thought of the artwork
and had an idea I knew would do it. It still took me a month to
get the drawing right and with luck it will be finished just prior
to next years Nationals (February 2003). Granted it wasn't 100%
of the time but unfinished projects always seen to be on my mind
and on the work table.
how do you get into the fancy call World? Jump in with both feet.
Go to the larger shows and see what others are doing. Try your hand
at a few things you know you can do and expand over time. Learn
about the techniques that interest you. Never listen to people that
say you can't do that. Talk with other callmakers as much as possible.
Many will gladly answer your question or even offer a few suggestions.
I think it most important that as you learn new ideas that you be
willing to share them with others. It will go along way to the future
of calls and call collecting. Good luck and I hope to see you at
a show in the near future. Stop me, introduce yourself and say hello.