Spring Gobbler Season Approaching
Inside the Outdoors, April 23, 2010

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 24, Youth Spring Turkey Hunt gets underway. As part of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, youngsters under the age of 12 may head to the forests and forest to try their luck at harvesting one bearded bird. This challenge is a yearly event. The mentor has to be an adult 21 years of age or older.

Beginning May 1, the statewide Spring Gobbler Season begins. Hunters will be allowed to bag turkeys with visible beards only. In other words, if there is no beard visible, it’s not fair game. No stalking of turkeys is permitted. All birds have to be called in only. Hunters are asked to be out of the woods by 1 P.M.

No dogs will be permitted during this season.

With that said, I had the pleasure recently of meeting and speaking with Ken Hamlet, the owner of Mountain Hollow Game Calls out of Parishville, NY. An Altoona native, he has hunted for over 30 years in 15 different states and three Canadian Provinces. He has harvested black bear, caribou, elk, moose, whitetail deer and wild turkey. In that time period, he built and used his calls to lure in all his game. With his growing business in the 26th year now, there is a great demand for his products.

In as much as his company produces many box, friction, locator and mouth calls of all types, I thought I’d spend time talking about latter, in particular.

He began by telling me his company makes 17 different mouth calls and color code each one. His favorite he told me is red. “We make them out of two different materials,” he began, “latex and prophylactics. Latex is sturdier, more durable, and exists the possibility of a three-year life if taken of properly.” He then explained that its life could be shortened on the amount of times one blows on it.

Prophylactic mouth calls are more expensive, are a bit thinner and won’t last as long. There is a plus side to them in as much as they are a lot easier to run. On the flip side of the coin, they tear a little bit easier and wear out faster.

Hammel pointed out that there are important factors that must be considered when going to purchase a mouth call. “The least amount of reed you have,” he emphasized, “the easiest it is to run and blow.” He then stipulated, “The more reeds that are added to a call will require one to blow more air so that it will work consistently the way one may want it to.”

Beginners should start out with a single reeded mouth call. Reeds are a small U-shaped piece of latex, as is in this case, that are set into vibration by a stream of air. As one gains experience, he may want to move on to calls with more reeds. The entrepreneur noted his company makes five reed mouth calls.

“There is a misconception,” Hammel stressed, “that it takes a whole lot more air or an oxygen tank to use a four-reed mouth call, but it really doesn’t.”

Here is another facet to which prospective buyers should give thought. “The more cuts in a reed, the raspier the sound is going to be,” he said. “Guys like a really raspy sound because it will imitate an older sounding hen. Less raspiness will attract a younger bird. He also stated, “The more thickness you have, the deeper the tone will be.”

In talking about the mouth calls his company manufactures, he related, “We stretch our calls tighter creating tension so the heat from one’s mouth doesn’t affect the call resulting in what would otherwise be a wave to the product.”

We then got on the subject of caring for mouth calls.

“Coat it in mouthwash,” he instructed me. “After that is done, rinse it in cold water and put it back in the case. Throw it into the freezer. That way you are eliminating the drying out process of latex or prophylactics. If this process is not used, and the reeds are dried out, they will rip and won’t be any good,” he said.

He further emphasized, “Some people won’t wash their calls. When the mouth bacteria that has accumulated on a mouthpiece is reinserted several times, it will relocate in one’s throat causing it to become sore.”

In conclusion, he pointed out, “Whatever hunters do, they should not leave their mouth calls in their cars all day long. The material will not only bake, but also crack.”

Spring gobbler season ends May 31.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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