Call making for conservation

Here’s how volunteer Briana Alley became immersed in the art of crafting calls.

Briana Alley is an artist at heart. From singing to drawing, painting and photography, she has embraced art from many different disciplines. Her introduction to the NWTF came through her husband, Kevin Alley.

Kevin is a web developer for the NWTF, and wrote the program the judges use for scoring calls at the convention in the Custom Callmaking Contest. In 2018, Briana tagged along to Nashville to volunteer with the national contest. Once surrounded by the incredible art that is call making, Briana said she felt her art was about to move in a new direction.

“In 2018, I went with my husband to volunteer at the contest in any way I could help,” she said. “I registered calls and set them up, kept track of them and made sure no one tampered with them unnecessarily. I have always loved doing artwork but the custom calls completely grabbed my heart. I was amazed that these call makers could create such a beautiful piece of work and then give it a voice. It was awesome! I was just in awe of all the artwork and craftsmanship that went into the calls.”

Her introduction complete, she volunteered again.

“In 2019, I volunteered again and got to work directly with Tim Oldham Jr. and his wife, Mindy, by promoting his turkey miniatures,” Briana said. “Tim Oldham Jr. and Dave Constantine to me were like celebrities. This allowed me to start up conversations with all the call makers at the convention and mingle around.”

Briana was able to take a class that Constantine and Oldham hosted and said she volunteered everywhere that needed help. Through this work, she befriended many of the call makers at the convention and on Facebook. She soon started doing hunter artwork on stones and selling them.  

“For the NWTF Convention in 2020, I entered the contest for my first time,” she said. “I worked with Joe Slaton on an owl call collaboration, and I did the artwork.”

Their call won fifth place, but she continued to converse with the world’s best turkey call artisans.

“I got to sit and mingle amongst all of the top dogs in the callmaking world,” she said. “It was like being in the middle of a bunch of your favorite celebrities. They were all so amazing, and it feels like a large family group. Lots of laughter and story exchanges.”

 A CALL(ING): NEXT LEVEL VOLTEERISM

“When I heard how bad the NWTF was doing due to COVID-19 and shutting down all the banquets, I got an idea,” Briana said. “I decided to contact a few of the call makers, and I asked them what they thought about doing a Custom Callmakers Auction to help the NWTF raise some money. They all agreed that it would be an awesome idea.”  

She began the process of organizing an online auction.

“I started writing everyone I know that makes calls, and no one turned me down,” she said. “They all helped in some way.”

Through the Facebook group Briana created for the auction, everyone got to see each delivered call.

“I did live unboxings every night, and many call makers would participate in them,” she said.

The inaugural Custom Callmaker’s Call for All Auction raised more than $17,000 toward the NWTF goal of $5 million before the end of August.

Since the auction, Briana has not slowed down. She has since created another Facebook group, The Rafter (www.facebook.com/groups/therafter/). She said this group is where turkey call makers and duck call makers can come together.

“The Rafter name is so that the turkey call makers and the duck call makers can come together on a page and show off their skills (You can have a rafter of turkeys and a raft of ducks to express a large group of each),” she said. “Everyone gets to create their own album on the page and show off their creations!” 

And she is not done. Briana hopes to host small mini-auctions monthly for call makers to create and auction off. The funds from these mini-auctions will go back to the call makers.

 Even though she is busy organizing these groups and auctions, Alley still creates her own art. For the Call for All auction, she worked with various artists creating art for their calls. She provided artwork on Dave Constantine’s beer belly box call, Andrew Nell’s scratch box, Jonathan Shull’s pot call and Slaton’s box call. Those calls brought in nearly $800 for wild turkey conservation.

And she’s looking forward to 2021, with plans to collaborate on decorative waterfowl display calls, hunting duck and goose calls, as well as creating her own box call.

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