The Best Custom Turkey Calls of the Past 10 Years

1999 Gibson Award Winner: Carver Craig Schultz of Critter Getter Game in Reynolds Station, Kentucky, won with this single-sided box call with a zebra wood lid and bottom and a turkey feather painted on the side. Schultz says box calls have the most turkey sound in them of any call type, especially on a windy day. Field & Stream Online Editors
1999 Best Decorative Call: Don Bald of Lebanon, Illinois made this wingbone yelper. The acorn-shaped mouth stop is one of Bald’s signature touches. The call features a scrimshaw turkey on the bell and bands that Bald casts from silver. The lanyard slide carved in the shape of a morel mushroom — one of the trophies of the spring woods. Field & Stream Online Editors
2000 Gibson Award Winner: Scott Basehore of Denver, Pennsylvania, works as a carpenter and callmaker, taking turkey season off to guide in Florida and Texas. His winning box call is made of butternut, purple heart and walnut. Basehore says butternut is his favorite wood. Field & Stream Online Editors
2000 Best Decorative Call Don Bald won three Best-of-Show awards in 2000, including the Decorative category for this tube call complete with scrimshaw turkey decorations on the barrel. Bald says as more hunters get deeply into the sport, they are discovering lesser known calls like the very effective tube. Field & Stream Online Editors
2001 Gibson Award Winner: The late Don Chancey of Baxley, Georgia won with this long box call. The box is butternut, the lid is cedar, which produces mellow turkey sounds. Field & Stream Online Editors
2001 Best Decorative Call: Dave Constantine of Durand, Wisconsin has dominated the decorative competition this decade, winning five times since 2001. This box call features carved turkeys, feathers, and morel mushrooms. The base of this call is the burl of a manzanita. Field & Stream Online Editors
2002 Gibson Award Winner: Bruce Wurth of Suisun, California, makes a mahogany boat long box he calls the Cut-N-Paddle. Boat paddle or long box designs, which produce top volume, have dominated the competition in recent years. Field & Stream Online Editors
2002 Best Decorative Call: Dennis Poeschel, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin started out as started as a decoy carver before moving into turkey calls. This single sided walnut box call has a scrimshawed ivory inlay. Field & Stream Online Editors
2003 Best Decorative Call: The boxed trumpet yelper was made by Don Bald. Trumpet yelpers were invented by callmaker Tom Turpin, who developed them as a way to make a wingbone-style call when he was out of turkey bones. This trumpet is walnut with three different ivory mouthpieces. Field & Stream Online Editors
2003 Gibson Award Winner: Don Chancey won again in 2003 with another long box, this one walnut and cedar. The Gibson award recognizes the best-sounding box turkey call and box call maker and is named in honor of Henry Gibson, who patented the first box call in 1897. Field & Stream Online Editors
2004 Best Decorative Call: John Parker, Trenton, Ohio is a wildlife artist who started making decorative calls in 2002 and won just two years later with “Beards and Bulls.” It featuers bull elk and a handle carved in an exacting likeness of a a deer antler. .270 rifle brass covers the hinge screw. Field & Stream Online Editors
2004 Gibson Award Winner: Scott Basehore won a second Gibson Award with this cedar and mahogany box call, this one a long box style. The long box wins call contests, he says, because it produces all three important tones — the high pitch, the rasp, and the hollow “yawk” of hen yelping. Field & Stream Online Editors
2005 Best Decorative Call: Dave Constantine’s one sided box call has a whitetail theme. Constantine limits production to about a dozen decorative calls and 50-60 hunting calls a year. He may put 250-300 hours into a decorative call. Field & Stream Online Editors
2005 Gibson Award Winner: Michael Lapp of Honey Brook, Pennsylvania used butternut for the box and a mahogany lid for this call. Although wood type is important, he says, the amount of “turkey” brought out of a call reflects the experience of the call maker. Field & Stream Online Editors
2006 Best Decorative Call: Dave Constantine’s box decorated with gobblers and running foxes shows a winter scene. The foxes, he says, are some time turkey predators and always part of the turkey’s environment. Field & Stream Online Editors
2006 Gibson Award Winner: Michael Lapp repeated his 2005 win in 06 with this long box. The box itself is made of popular, stained black with minerals. It has a cedar lid. Field & Stream Online Editors
2007 Best Decorative Call: Dave Constantine’s ivory box call is carved from the tusk of a rogue African elephant. The design shows a trout stream in three dimensions. The lid represents the surface of the stream, with two turkey feathers floating on top of the water. Field & Stream Online Editors
2007 Gibson Award Winner: Scott Basehore won with a butternut and cedar call. He says he will often try 8 or 10 different lids on each box until he finds the one that sounds best. Field & Stream Online Editors
2008 Gibson Award Winner: Michael Lapp made this short box in the style of the late Neil Cost, one of America’s most famous callmakers. The top and sides are decorated with a checkering pattern like the ones Cost used. Lapp works in construction and makes a call a week after work. His shop is closed during turkey season for “field testing.” Field & Stream Online Editors
2008 Best Decorative Call: John Parker’s decorative award winner shows the life cycle of a wild gobbler from the egg on the handle to a hen and poults and jake on one side, and a mature gobbler encountering a hunter on the other. The strutter on the log is complete right down to the spurs. It took John Parker 400 hours to carve the call. Field & Stream Online Editors