Calls of the Wild

Find out what makes a call a valuable collectible.

Man has used calls to harvest game since the dawn of civilization. Are calls collectible? You bet. The trick is discerning what’s hot and what’s not.

The calls you buy at Wal-Mart will probably never be collectible. These calls aren’t junk and they do work with a little tuning and practice. But they’re made to take to the field.

Professional call makers are artists, and like famous knife makers or wildlife painters, many are not recognized until they’re gone. A knife made by Rudy Ruhana is much more valuable than one made by his grandsons. An original Randall made by “Bo” Randall is worth way more than his offspring’s knives. The same holds true with calls.

Allen Bailey is 62 years old and learned about woodworking at his grandfather’s sawmill. He makes great calls, and as an avid turkey hunter and guide, when he makes a call it’s a work of art. If it doesn’t sound right, he puts it in the potbelly stove. Bailey makes only about 400 calls a year, so you do the math. Collecting his calls is a no-brainer for sure.

The key to collecting calls is to determine whether they are custom made or mass produced. Ask yourself, are they quality? The process of making any kind of quality game call is a labor of love. I have a duck call and a goose call that were made by Glynn Scobey (Route 3, Box 37, New Bern, TN 38059) prior to my affiliation with Outdoor Life. You can imagine what it sounded like when Glynn and I faced off over the phone with our calls to see who was the best caller. Glynn’s calls are too good not to be a great investment. I have Glynn’s call on my bragging lanyard along with 14 bands (very collectible) from ducks and geese I have harvested in my years of waterfowling. It’s a mania that’s common with many hunters who fall in love with collecting calls.

Some call names to look for if you’re beginning a collection include Perdue, Glodal, and Turpin. As with any potential collectible purchase, look for condition first and always opt for quality over quantity.

What can a duck call bring at auction? How about $60,000, which was the price fetched by an 1890 “Kinney & Harlow” call, made in Newark, Ohio at a recent live auction. A P.S. Olt (Phillip Sanford Olt 1870-1950) salesman sample case with 20 assorted calls recently went for over $1,100. Bought separately, these same calls would have brought $10 to $15 each. These calls are out there, and hitting the Internet and the antique shows in the off-season is a great way to hunt for them.