Welcome to Basin & Range Outdoors

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. ~Theodore Roosevelt

Basin & Range Outdoors was created to share the adventures experienced by two brothers in the American West. From the highest alpine terrains to the lowest sonoran deserts we will chronicle the pain and triumph that accompanies all of our outdoor pursuits.

There will be no high-fence hunts, no fly fishing lodges, no streamside caviar and wine breaks. Instead, you can expect cold nights sleeping in the dirt, flat tires on old trucks, and big dreams realized on small budgets. With Basin & Range Outdoors you will find useful reviews of hunting and fly fishing products, techniques, locations, and a general review of our outdoor expeditions on public land.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Part 1 - The Closed-Reed Bear Call

When I first started turning closed-reed predator calls, I was convinced that the custom call makers of that time had a secret that allowed their calls to be more effective then mine.  I purchase every one I could afford, took them apart, studied them, and called coyotes with them.  After a year or two (and a few hundred dollars) I finally realized... a call is a call.   When you look past all of the fancy wood, fancy laminating, fancy designs and shiny finishes, you will find the same reed.  Almost all calls, custum and store bought, for fox or bear, use a reed by JC Products.  So, to get variations in the sound
of a closed-reed call you need to tune the reed.  Custom predator call making is all about tuning reeds!   This may be over simplified, so here is my list of important things in a custom call:
1. How the reed is tuned
2. Type of reed used
3. Type of wood used (cocobolo, african blackwood, or any stabilized wood)
4. Shape of call and detail
5. How the call is finished

I decided to turn a call for my upcoming bear hunt that will hopefully show how simple it is to turn you own great call.  The steps are simple and I hope that the pictures will help anyone understand the basics of making a closed-reed predator call.
The Setup:

I can usually get 3 calls out of an 18" piece of Cocobolo.  Cocobolo is relatively inexpensive, easy to turn and helps give a natural sound to your call.

Using basic turning techniques and tools work the block of cocobolo into the basic outside shape you want your call to have.  Keeping in mind hand size and general comfort for the end user.

Ruff-in a basic shape:

The three tools I use the most; you can complete an entire call with these three chisels:

In Part Two I will drill-out this call, sand and finish, install and tune the reed, and prep it for field use.  Stay tuned...

Just a quick note on reference material you might find useful... I recieved a signed copie of Turning Custom Duck Calls from Greg Keats many years ago.  I am not a big duck hunter, but this book gave me endless ideas and inspiration in my own predator-call making.  I can not say that I have seen a more beautiful call than Greg's Signature Double Reed Duck Call in Locust Burl.  His work is first-rate.
You can't hardly screw-up a predator call, but duck calls are functional pieces of art, a true musical instrument and very difficult to custom make.  Under the influence of some undue praise for my predator calls, I thought I could make a duck call.  I ended up with a stick that had a hole in it and sounded like a squeeling pig.  I will not endeavor to make a duck call again.  It is a much better use of my time to just order a custom duck call from Greg Keats Custom Calls.