Turkey for dinner tonight?? Before you throw out those wings here’s a perfect project to do with the kids or by yourself for that matter. People have been making calls out of wing bones for centuries, Native Americans regularly made and used them in their hunts. There’s nothing special required to do it and it only takes about an hour and a half start to finish. Here’s what you’ll need for material.
- 1 turkey wing
- small hacksaw blade
- hanger wire or other piece of thin wire
- pipe cleaners (optional)
- glue (either carpenters glue, epoxy, or I prefer Gorilla Glue)
- 1 cotton ball (optional)
- knife blade or tool for scraping
You can use a knife blade to scrape the meat and tendons away. You want to get right down to the bone.
Next you want to take a hacksaw blade or or other cutting tool and remove the ends from your three wing bones. Be careful when sawing not to shear the bone off, it’s better to just cut on the pull and not the push with your hacksaw blade.
Overlay the bones so you’ll have an idea of where to cut them, you want the bones to fit inside one another, the ulna slides into the humerus and the radius slides into the ulna. You can cut them again or scrape them down if they don’t fit quite right a little later on. Take your three wing bones and place them in a pot of boiling water. This will loosen up any meat or tendons you missed and also soften the marrow inside.
Adding a little bleach to the water when it’s boiling will whiten the bone or you canadd some color by boiling in some coffee grounds, pine bark, chestnut husks or some other organinc material that will make a dye.
The important step here is to scrape out the marrow so you end up with a hollow bone. The marrow is fairly easy to remove from the radius and ulna but a little more difficult to get the fat end of the humerus clean. You can use a pipe cleaner at this points to try and get the sides cleaned. The fat end of the humerus will have a honeycomb appearance to it. You need to carefully remove this portion, keep picking at the end with your wire or knife point until you have most of the bone open. Once you have all three bones cleaned and hollowed out you can dry fit them again to see how they fit each other. You can sand or scrap the inside or outside of the bones until they fit somewhat snugly. Once you have them dry fitted you can move onto the final step, gluing them together.
If you are going to use wood glue you’ll want to tuck some cotton around the edges of where your bones join. The cotton once soaked with the glue will make an airtight seal. I personally like to use Gorilla Glue, wipe a little on the end that will go inside the other. You don’t need a lot, a little goes along way. The Gorilla Glue will expand and make its own airtight seal. Any excess glue that over expands can just be cut or scrapped off once its dry, you’ll have a nice solid joint with the Gorilla Glue. Once your three pieces are all joined, glued and dried you can take a little sand paper and smooth down any rough edges and clean up your call a little. You can go a few steps further by adding a lanyard, engraving or decorating the bone.
Ok, now that you’ve made a wing bone call how do you use it? Easy, just place the call between your lips (the narrow end) and kiss the call, sucking air in while you pucker. It may taste a little funny at first but with time that will disappear. You can change the pitch and tone of your call by cupping your hands over the end and opening and closing them while calling. Check out a few Youtube videos on how to make a yelp or cutting sound.
As I mentioned above you don’t have to be a hunter to use a turkey call. Take it with you hiking or bird watching and try it out. There are few things more exciting in nature than hearing a Tom gobble back to your call.
Enjoy the Outdoors!!