Wingbones and trumpets make sweet turkey talk

Mike Giles plays one of Jeffrey Woods’ wingbones with a few instructions from the master call maker. (Picture by Mike Giles)

When it comes to turkey calls there’s nothing much new under the sun. Originally Native Americans used every part of a turkey and they made suction calls out of the wings of the turkeys. Later on a few old turkey hunters used wing bones and an occasional Turpin Trumpet but these types of turkey calls have never been that popular in the Deep South or Mississippi.

With turkeys receiving more hunting pressure each year, hunters are always on the lookout for new calls. More than a few turkey hunters are turning to wingbones and trumpets to give them a bit of an edge. While wingbones and trumpets are surely different, they are not the easiest calls to master. However, when you learn how to call on one of these suction type calls you can do things you never imagined.

Unique wingbones

Jeffrey Wood, owner of Swamp Boy’s Custom Calls, learned how to make wingbones from an old timer up in Tennessee and his are different than most, but very unique and deadly. His wingbones are slightly longer than most wingbones and they’re cut differently on the end, thus giving them a different sound.

If you are not familiar with how to call turkeys with a wingbone, it’s unusual in the fact that you actually suck air in and through the wingbone to make the turkey calls. Traditional mouth calls and snuff box calls are blown out. Mastering the wingbone is not the easiest and it takes a lot of practice, but if you learn to master the call you can imitate multiple turkeys from young hens to jake gobblers, to mature gobblers and raspy hens on the same suction call.

It’s amazing to watch pros like Jeffrey Wood make those wingbones sing. He can really make them talk and he makes a few for the public each year.

“I started making the wingbones a few years ago after meeting an old mountain man in Tennessee while we were squirrel hunting,” Wood said. “I make my calls a little different as I cut the end in an angle which allows you to put your finger over the end and cup your other hand and make a two-note yelp like a turkey when you suck in. You actually make a sound chamber with your hands, and it gives you that turkey sound.”


The Turpin Brothers made the first popular trumpets, a favorite of many trumpet lovers, back in the late 1800s and they’re still in production today by Steve Turpin of Memphis.

While most trumpets are made of different types of wood, and they are beautiful and deadly too, a few are made of cane. Lee Steed, of Brandon, makes an excellent cane call if you can get your hands on one. Steed’s cane calls are made in the trumpet style, and they are easy to blow.

Mark Prudhomme is a 17-time world champion turkey caller who had to learn to use a trumpet in his competitions, so he eventually made his own to fit his style of hunting. Prudhomme uses the call in the spring woods to imitate a flock of turkeys and he’ll throw in a few young hen kee kees, raspy hen’s purring and clucking and also use a gobbler yelp as well as a jake yelp to convince stubborn old toms to come on in. He’s an expert at playing his style of trumpet, and if you have the opportunity to attend one of his seminars you will be ahead of the game.

If you’d like to learn a little more about the origin of the wingbones and how to play them, then reach out to Jeffrey Wood at or 601-479-3979 and he’ll give you a few tips and information about his calling techniques.

About Michael O. Giles 406 Articles
Mike Giles of Meridian has been hunting and fishing Mississippi since 1965. He is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, seminar speaker and guide.

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