Bourjaily: Make a Homemade Trumpet Call

For one of the extra credit questions in April's "Gobbler Exam" quiz, Senior Editor Colin Kearns asked me if I could make an improvised turkey call. I looked around the top of the landfill that is my desk, found a ballpoint pen, a 12 gauge hull and some duct tape and cobbled together the trumpet call you see pictured here.

A ballpoint pen turns out to be a perfect primer punch, so the first step is to pop out the old primer. Then you take the insides out of the pen, leaving a hollow plastic tube. Put the end of the pen over the primer hole - it doesn't quite fit, but it doesn't matter - just hold it in place and wrap the whole thing together with duct tape.

When I tried this, I had never done it before and had no idea what to expect, but it makes sounds which could, I think, call in a really, really lonely turkey. To run it, hold the shotgun shell in the web between your thumb and index finger. You can cup the other hand over that one to make a sound chamber and change tones. Put about a quarter of an inch of the mouthpiece between your lips and, keeping your lips pressed together, make a kind of kiss, sucking into the call. With a little practice, you can get decent clucks and yelps out of it.