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Locust Grove Navy retiree calls turkeys his way

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Ray Ward held one of his turkey callers as he talked about his turkey collection, which is mounted on his home office walls. Ward, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran, has been married to Locust Grove City Councilwoman Frances Ward for 66 years.

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Ray Ward held one of his turkey callers as he talked about his turkey collection, which is mounted on his home office walls. Ward, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran, has been married to Locust Grove City Councilwoman Frances Ward for 66 years.

Ray Ward has been calling turkeys for two decades. He’s even created his own turkey callers, and by his account, they work.

“I love to hunt, the callers that I make were originally done by Indians,” said Ward. While Ward offered no name for his turkey caller, he said turkey callers, such as the “Box Caller,” “Wing Bone Caller,” and the “Slate Caller,” pre-date his creations.

“I just felt like I wanted to call a turkey with my own callers. They sound exactly like a hen,” he said. He said he is satisfied when he sees the finished product.

Ward’s turkey caller is a unique concoction of three bleached-clean turkey, or chicken bones, free of meat, grease and marrow, linked together and varnished.

“I get a satisfaction out of seeing how they look, and how they sound,” said Ward. “Once you make it, it’s satisfying to know you made something valuable.”

Make your own

There are 12 steps to creating a Ward Turkey Caller, according to Ward. Here are his instructions on how to make your own turkey caller.

  1. Clean off the little pieces of meat from the wing bone of a chicken or turkey.

  2. Boil the bones with dishwashing detergent.

  3. Cut the ends of the bones off and keep the long piece, the joint area of the bone.

  4. Clean the marrow out of the bones by using a brush or pipe cleaner.

  5. Boil them again to make sure they are really clean.

  6. Bleach the bones in peroxide and soak them for 24 hours.

  7. Fit the three pieces together by filing and sanding them.

  8. Glue the pieces of bones together.

  9. Draw the desired art on the bones with a pencil, using a metal scribe to trace the drawing.

  10. Trace the drawing again with a micro point.

  11. Allow the bones to dry.

  12. Spray the bones with a small amount of varnish.

photo

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Locust Grove resident, Ray Ward, holds one of his turkey callers. Ward has been creating the callers for more than two decades. He says there are 12 steps to creating his signature callers.

Ward, who began hunting turkeys in 1985, said he was astonished by the response of the birds, the first time he used one of his callers. He said his heart started pounding and he became nervous.

“The first time I called up a turkey, I shot straight up in the air,” said Ward. “My hunting buddy, [Doug Camp] asked. ‘What did you do that for?’

“Hell, I don’t know, and I was still shaking,” Ward recalled replying. Camp, a local merchant, would later sell the Ward Turkey Callers.

Turkeys have a “phenomenal eyesight,” according to Ward, and are more difficult to capture than other animals.

“To call a gobbler, you are going against nature,” said Ward. “A male turkey gobbles to attract the hen. He fans out his tail and struts to attract the hen, so if you can get one to come, you are good.”

Looking at the walls of Ward’s home office, it is clear he has been a good hunter. His walls are filled with mounted wild game, including turkeys and even bears.

He said he hunts mostly in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Ward has friends who are taxidermists, and he credits them for the mountings of several animals on his walls.

Ward is a World War II Navy veteran, and has been married to Locust Grove City Councilmember Frances Ward for 66 years. He also is a retired electrical engineer.