Wonderful Wingbones

I read somewhere that a desperate, hungry American Indian first got the idea to make and hunt with a wingbone call after sucking on a turkey bone to consume its marrow. I’m not sure if it’s true, but wingbone calls do have a mysterious history and allure.

“A superior wingbone call starts with a high quality set of wingbones,” said Steve Lumma of Wentzville, Mo., known as one of the best decorative turkey call makers in the world. “The size and density of turkey wingbones is determined by the sex, age, health and geological locality of the bird at the time that the bird is harvested.”

You have two different birds:

  1. a big bodied, Eastern wild turkey from a Midwestern state such as Wisconsin
  2. an Eastern wild turkey of equal age, sex and health from a southern state like Louisiana

It’s obvious the Wisconsin bird will have wingbones of a larger diameter than the Louisiana bird, which means they work better for call making.

The best bones to make a wingbone call are dense, solid-walled bones with the proper inner diameter hole. The elements that make a good-sounding call are bone length, internal diameter and wall thickness.

A typical wingbone call is made of three sections of bone:

  1. radius for a mouthpiece
  2. ulna for the mid-section
  3. humerus for the sound bell

To make a call, bones are cleaned, joined, affixed, sanded, smoothed and finished. The segments of bone are commonly joined with glue and by finishing each joint with wrapped thread, epoxy or other material.

People, such as Lumma, like to make decorative calls. Whether it’s designed or detailed, any wingbone call is a unique piece of art worthy of great appreciation.

Want to get your hands on one of your own? Here's a short list of call makers who have mastered the art of the wingbone:

Don Bald(618) 537-2282
Scott Basehore(717) 336-4458
Jay Burnworth(567) 674-7716
Fred Cox(336) 451-9420
Steve Lumma(314) 691-4324
Kevin Lynch(859) 630-3602
Eric Rice(612) 270-3347
Tim Sandford(407) 857-8397
Andy Snair(814) 571-7728
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