Published by wingerwingbones on 28 Aug 2008 at 02:31 pm
For most people placing the tail and beard of there wild turkey on a plaque is enough of a remembrance for there trophy. For me and many other people thats not enough, one of the best parts of the wild turkey is in there wings which is often overlooked but can be just as beautiful, if not more beautiful then the tail itself. I am not talking about just the wings of course but the bones that lie inside. These bones are very unique and have been used to make turkey calls for hundreds of years, in fact these bones where used by Native Americans to produce the first tool ever to imitate a wild turkey. I am going to show you a step by step guide on how to turn your birds wings into beautiful turkey calling machines.
Step 1: Wingbone Removal
There are three separate bones that are used in a wingbone call. The largest bone of the call is the Humerus it is the bone that connects the wing to the bird so be careful removing the wings as this bone cannot be cut so you need to cut the wings out around this bone. The next bone needed is the Ulna it is the second largest bone and the center of the wingbone call, this bone and the Radius bone are connected at the ends. The Radius is the smallest bone of the call but its length is important in making proper pitch of wild turkeys.
Step 2: Wingbone Prep.
Once you have all three bones needed for your call you can start cleaning them up. After you have the bones out of the wing and uncut, boil them in a pan for 10-15mins. Once the bones are boiled cut any excess meat off the bones using a knife, the meat should pull right off since the bones have been boiled. Now that all meat is off the bones cut each joint end off the bones using a hand saw or cut off wheel, cut about one inch off both ends on the Humerus and Ulna, cut only the joint ends off on the Radius, this will leave your mouth piece small enough to fit comfortably on your lips. Once the bones have been cut you will notice right away that each bone does of course have bone marrow. The Humerus bone is the only that the marrow is webbed into the bone and will need a little elbow grease, I use a knife to break the majority of it out and then a rat tail to file the inside walls smooth. The other two bones have mostly liquid and the majority will come out with a pipe cleaner. Now that you have the bones clean, soak the bones in 50/50 water/bleach (to much concentrate of bleach will eat bones away) for about three-five hours. Once the bones have dried from the bleach use fine sandpaper and file the outside of the bones smooth, the ends of the Ulna may need some excessive sanding to fit properly into the Radius and Humerus.
Step 3: Bonding Bones Together
Now that you have your three bones clean, sanitized, and smooth you can get them ready for the epoxy. Each joint will need to be stuffed with cotton for support and strength, make sure the cotton does not go to deep into the joint, blocking the inside of the bone. When the bones have been supported with cotton you can turn the bones so they are lined up how you want them. To bond the joints together you will need 2 ton epoxy, mix the epoxy with a Popsicle stick and apply the epoxy so it lays smooth around the joint. You can stick the bone on an arrow or a pencil so the epoxy can set with the bone propped upward. After the epoxy has set about 10-12 hours you can now sand any excess epoxy off so the joint transition is smooth, this will make it easier to wrap any kind of thread over the bone.
Step 4: Decorate Your New Call!
Well your wingbone is assembled, now you can make it yours by decorating and perfecting it. I like to use Gudebrod rod wrapping thread to wrap the joints, this will really “make” the call since the transition will be smooth it makes the three bones look like they are one. The options are endless for your call, you can get very creative, I like to use a fine point sharpie and draw art on the bones, sign and date them, you could also write the specs of the bird. Many people add a camo lanyard for easier field use.To give the call a finishing look, add several coats of clear coat enamel, be careful on the first few coats, the ink you wrote on it will “run” if the enamel gets to thick to quickly. The best way to coat your call is just lite coats to thick coats as the call gets covered with the enamel.
Your call is complete and your probably wondering “how the heck does this thing talk turkey?” Well your wingbone will talk turkey very well with a little practice. First you need to grip the biggest bone of the call between your index and base of your thumb, leave the rest of your hand open and let the call just sit in the base of your thumb and index. Pucker your lips together firmly and make small sucks, bring the tip of the Radius bone to your lips so the tip just presses against your puckered lips. Make small sucks with the call pressed on your lips, these sucks should sound somewhat like a yelp, perfect that yelp until it sounds exactly like a yelp. From there you can make yelps, clucks, putts, purrs, and even gobbles (so I am told).
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