January 23, 2010

Larry Fleming: Turkey callers his specialty

Olin Humphries, of Eatonton, has made turkey calls by the thousands since 1982, although the 64-year-old, in town for the three-day Northwest Georgia Hunting and Fishing Expo — it winds up today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center — has slowed his assembly line a bit recently.

There was a small taste of fishing in the arena, but make no mistake about it, this event is mostly about turkey calling. And Humphries, who won the coveted D.D. Adams award for the best sounding friction call and striker combination in 2007 at the National Wild Turkey Federation convention in Nashville, Tenn., was showing off six of his top callers, as were numerous other vendors.

“I started making a single-side hinge lid box in 1982,” Humphries said. “In 1984 or ’85, I started making the scratch boxes. After that I added the trough call and some others.”

Humphries estimates that 85 to 90 percent of his customers return for new callers.

“I’d say 100 percent, but that’d be bragging too much,” Humphries said. “All my work has a lifetime guarantee. It’s guaranteed for as long as I live.”

Also in 2007, Humphries won the Jeremiah Stevens Award for the best sounding scratch box call at the NWTF convention, also held in Nashville

Humphries’ callers are well known — not to mention respected — in the gobble, gobble business. His least expensive scratch box goes for $25, and a custom-made box is $100.

While we talked, Humphries was demonstrating one of his callers. It’s in his blood. About as close as I ever come to a turkey is on Thanksgiving Day. Somebody with a caller, maybe a Humphries-made caller, already did the dirty work and that’s fine with me.

I was never a hunter or had any desire to head for the wilderness packing heat to shoot at turkeys or any other animal. But, hey, that’s just me. It was evident on Saturday there are a lot of guys — and some gals — who do enjoy totin’ weapons and blasting away at the feathery creatures. I’ve never seen so much camouflage in one place.

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