by Bob Warden
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
No, its not an article on Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving football games. I wanted to write something for the upcoming 2015 spring turkey season. I figured what better way then to visit with and write about a local Frederick County custom turkey call making company. I bet not many of you knew there was a company that makes and ships custom made turkey calls all over the United States (Idaho, California, Wyoming, and Ohio, to name a few) right here in Frederick County.
I sat down with Bruce Chaney and Dave Hohman of L.J.W. (Let Jakes Walk) Custom Calls at their Thurmont location for a couple of hours of turkey hunting stories and turkey call business stories.
The business was established after many years of hunting, a passion for turkey calling, turkey hunting, and a chance encounter with another call maker named Marlin D. Watkins from Ohio, who after hearing their plight, suggested they start their own custom turkey call business. So with his urging and guidance, L.J.W. was established in 1999. Since then, many others have helped with advice and guidance, such as call makers, Dale Rohm and Scott Basehore, and woodworker, Tom Geasey.
Dave and Bruce were both working full-time jobs at the time L.J.W. was started; but in 2003, Bruce retired from Verizon with over thirty-five years of service, and Dave retired in 2008 from Maryland Department of Natural Resources with almost thirty-two years of service. They both started hunting small game and developing a love for the outdoors at an early age: Bruce at twelve, and Dave at eleven. They have hunted turkeys in thirteen states, and this year hope to hunt them in Tennesse, Virginia, Maryland, South Dakota, New York, Maine, and possibly Ohio. Both give many hours of volunteer time to help promote turkey hunting to young (and older) hunters by doing seminars at National Wild Turkey Federation Jakes (6-16 years old) events at Remington Farms, Mayberry Game Protection Association, Woodmont Rod and Gun Club, and American Legion Youth Camp West Mar.
Bruce and Dave are sponsor members of NWTF and are active in the Monocacy Valley Chapter. Bruce was president of the chapter for three years, and served eleven years on the Maryland State Chapter Board of Directors. Dave was past treasurer of Monocacy Valley chapter and past treasurer of the Maryland State Chapter. As you can see, both have devoted a big part of their lives to the wild turkey and turkey hunting, and enjoy passing on their knowledge and expertise to other turkey hunters.Also, in the past three years, their calls have placed nationally in two different catagories: one-sided and double-sided short box calls in the hunting division. This means they placed in the top six call makers in the country in each division. Now that’s a BIG deal, folks! Pretty impresive credentials, to say the least…but back to the calls they make. The calls they make are double- and single-sided short box calls with a Neil Cost design. The bodies of the calls are made from poplar wood, and the bases and lids are Bubinga wood from Africa. Remember, these are custom made calls and each is cut, finished, and tuned by hand.They actually go out and collect the wood themselves for the bodies, have it milled down, then they dry it (which takes a very long time), before it can be made into a L.J.W custom turkey call.
Now, I really wanted to give you a few turkey hunting tips before I run out of space for this article, so I asked Bruce and Dave for their advice. So, here it is in no perticular order: (1) Leave your turkey calls at home during pre-season scouting— DON’T educate the birds. If you must, use a crow call sparingly to locate birds after they come off the roost; (2) Beginners start with slate, box, or push pull calls (practice, practice, practice at home, and drive everyone in the house crazy); (3) Don’t over call; (4) Have patience. Know your area and the lay of the land; it will help you to know which way they may come and how far away they are; (5) Remember that you are asking a goobler to do something that is not natural. You are reversing nature. In nature, the hens go to the gobbler, and we, as hunters, are trying to get the gobbler to come to the hens; and (6) Most of all: Know Your Target! Be sure of your target and beyond it. During the spring season, you need to IDENTIFY your target. It has to be a bearded bird, so you need to see its beard!
If you are interested in contacting L.J.W., you may call Bruce Chaney at 301-606-2056 or Dave Hohman at 240-446-8129. They may also be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, these are custom handmade calls and, as of right now, there is a one- to two-year wait. The average cost is $150. But, believe you me, they are well worth it and sound Grrrreat…(sorry, I couldn’t help myself; that’s from my Frosted Flakes eating days).
In closing, I wish you good luck in your turkey hunting, and please hunt safely and hunt ethically!
Pictured from left are Bruce Chaney and Dave Hohman.
Photo by Bob Warden