Hunting & Trapping

Hunting & Trapping

West Virginia turkey call maker earns national honor

The Free Press WV

Nathan Taylor has been making turkey calls for less than four years, but already his creations have attracted national attention.

In fact, his calls attracted enough attention to earn Taylor the Amateur Call Maker of the Year award at the recent National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to win that award,“ said Taylor, an educator from Sandyville, in Jackson County.

Taylor makes pot calls, hollowed-out wooden discs that resonate when their slate calling surfaces are scraped with a stick called a striker. One of his calls captured the top spot in its division, another took second place, and another placed third in a separate category.

Awards were the farthest thing from Taylor’s mind when he took up call making as a hobby.

“I was getting tired of the calls I was purchasing from big-box stores,“ he recalled. “I stumbled across a place where I could find pot call kits. I started piecing those together and I thought, ‘Man, I really like this. This is neat.‘ After a while, though, I started thinking that maybe I could do things a little better.“

He became intrigued with the idea of turning his own pots on a wood lathe, but didn’t want to sink a lot of money into a pastime he wasn’t sure he’d continue. A visit to his wife’s parents’ house turned up a solution.

“My brother-in-law had gotten a lathe for pen turning when he was in high school, but by then he was in medical school and the lathe was just occupying space in my father-in-law’s garage,“ Taylor said. “I offered to take the lathe off his hands.“

Lathe accessories for pot-turning differ significantly from those used for pen-turning. Taylor took a prefabricated pot-call blank to a woodworker’s store in Parkersburg for advice.

“They set me up with exactly what I needed,“ he said. “I got excited and turned out all sorts of calls. They were terrible.

“I learned very quickly that a turkey call, even a pot call, is still a musical instrument. There are very specific dimensions that call has to have or it’s not going to make the right sound.“

Sound quality — matching the tone and timbre of a hen when she yelps, clucks or purrs — makes all the difference when it comes to a call’s effectiveness.

“So many measurements are important,“ Taylor explained. “The diameter of the call, the thickness of the wall of the call, the overall thickness of the call from top to bottom, the depth of the chamber where the sound resonates, the dimension of the pedestal your sound board sits on, and the gap between the soundboard and pedestal are all very critical.“

To make those measurements, Taylor uses a digital micrometer.

“There are some places where tolerances need to be between one to two thousandths of an inch, plus or minus,“ he said. “I’ve learned that I need to spend almost as much time measuring as I spend shaping a pot on the lathe.“

Such attention to detail is necessary, Taylor said, to produce calls with consistent tone.

“A lot of people don’t realize how exact you have to be,“ he said, “but if you want to recreate a certain sound, and do it time and time again, you have to get those measurements as close as they can be.“

Taylor also tries to make calls that look as good as they sound.

“I’m not an artist, so I’m not able to do wood burnings, drawings and paintings on my calls,“ he said. “But I also live by the motto, ‘Life’s too short to hunt with ugly turkey calls,‘ so I try to choose pieces of wood that have aesthetically pleasing coloration, grain orientation and character.“

Judges for the Turkey Federation’s Grand National Call Competition apparently liked what they heard and saw. Taylor wasn’t able to attend the convention, so he tried to monitor the contest results through an internet portal the federation maintains for call makers.

“When I logged in, I saw nothing next to the calls I’d entered,“ he said. “I figured none of them had made the top five. Later, I was chatting with a friend and asked him how he had done, and I told him I hadn’t seen anything posted about my calls. He told me I was looking in the wrong place.“

Taylor logged back onto the federation website. The results stunned him — first- and second-place medals for his pot calls, a third-place medal for one of his trough calls, and another medal for Amateur Call Maker of the Year.

“I sat there dumbfounded, in utter disbelief,“ he said. “I logged out and logged back in, just to make sure I was seeing everything correctly. As the reality of it set in, the disbelief turned into excitement.“

Taylor’s phone began ringing, and it hasn’t stopped since. Turkey hunters who heard his calls at the convention or saw the results of the competition called to place orders. That part of it is a little daunting to Taylor, who would prefer to limit the number of calls he produces each year.

“Last year I made about 320 calls,“ he said. “I don’t want to do many more than that. I don’t want my business to get so big that I lose touch with the art of it.

“To me, call making is an art. I want to make sure I’m the person who is hand-selecting the boards, who is picking out the parts of the boards the blanks will be cut from, and who is turning them out one call at a time. I put my heart, soul and passion into making calls, and I don’t want to change that.“

US Hunter Pays $110K to Kill ‘Screw Horn Goat’

The latest trophy hunter to make waves paid $110,000—a record—to kill a rare mountain goat in Pakistan. Bryan Kinsel Harlan, as he was was identified in Pakistani newspapers, told Dawn News he took “an easy and close shot” to kill the wild Astore markhor in Pakistan’s northern Himalayan region of Gilgit-Baltistan, and was “pleased to take this trophy.“ Harlan—a Texas entrepreneur, according to Fox News—posed for smiling photos with the goat, which is Pakistan’s official national animal and is also known as the screw horn goat thanks to the shape of its long horns, which can grow up to five feet. While many on social media wondered why it’s legal to kill the majestic animals, officials and conservation groups tell the Washington Post such trophy hunts have actually helped the markhor.

For decades, the goats’ numbers had been falling due to poachers, deforestation, logging, and uncontrolled trophy hunting—along with many other reasons. In 2011, just 2,500 of the animals, which are native to the Himalayan ranges of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan, were believed to remain. Sanctuaries were established and local hunting of the animals was banned in Pakistan, but officials decided to allow foreign hunters to kill 12 males per season, with the money raised by those hunts going to residents of the region (incentive not to poach the animals) as well as government wildlife agencies. And though such tactics have made things worse for threatened species in other countries, things have worked out in Pakistan, with the markhor population rebounding so much that by 2015 it was upgraded from endangered to near-threatened.

WV hunters harvest 108,856 deer during Fall 2018 through January 2019 seasons

The Free Press WV

Hunters in West Virginia registered 108,856 white-tailed deer through the electronic game checking system during the recently completed buck firearms, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery, crossbow, youth/Class Q/Class XS and Mountaineer Heritage seasons.

The total harvest was within 1 percent of the 2017 deer harvest of 108,160 and 11 percent below the five-year average of 122,924, said Paul Johansen, chief of the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section.

A breakdown of the combined 2018 deer seasons reveals 44,599 bucks were harvested during the traditional buck firearm season, 32,751 antlerless deer were taken during all antlerless firearm hunting opportunities, 26,613 deer were harvested by bows and crossbows in the urban and regular archery/crossbow seasons, 4,234 deer were taken in the muzzleloader season and 659 deer were taken with primitive bow and muzzleloader weapons in the Mountaineer Heritage season.

Antlerless Deer Season

The 2018 antlerless deer season harvest, which includes the youth/Class Q/Class XS deer season, was 2.5 percent less than in 2017 and 20 percent below the five-year average of 40,859.

“It is important to note that the antlerless harvest is the key component to any deer management strategy, as it controls the future deer population,” said Johansen.

DNR will hold 12 public meetings across the state on March 11 and 12 to gather input on fall 2019 antlerless deer hunting opportunity recommendations to increase, decrease or stabilize deer populations in each of the 51 counties where firearms deer hunting is permitted.

The top 10 counties were: Preston (1,799), Upshur (1,289), Jackson (1,183), Lewis (1,160), Ritchie (1,123), Monroe (1,099), Roane (1,073), Hampshire (1,068), Wood (1,057) and Mason (922).

Muzzleloader Deer Season

The 2018 muzzleloader harvest of 4,870, which includes 636 deer taken with side-lock and flintlock muzzleloaders in the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 15 percent more than the 2017 harvest of 4,243 and 12 percent below the five-year average of 5,540.

The top 10 counties were Preston (213), Randolph (205), Nicholas (198), Greenbrier (178), Upshur (169), Fayette (165), Webster (158), Jackson (154), Braxton (142) and Mason (142).

Archery and Crossbow Deer Seasons

The bow and crossbow hunters’ take of 26,636 deer, which included 23 bow-harvested deer in the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 1.6 percent more than the 2017 archery season harvest of 26,206, and 3 percent below the five-year average archery season harvest of 27,506. The proportion of the harvest taken using a crossbow increased and was greater than deer reported taken by a bow for the second year.

The top 10 counties were: Preston (1,333), Kanawha (1,045), Wyoming (976), Randolph (914), Raleigh (807), Logan (772), Fayette (765), Wood (709), Upshur (683) and Jackson (676).

Fall 2018 through January 2019
County Buck
Antlerless Muzzleloader Archery/
Mountaineer Heritage Total
Barbour 958 875 98 536 11 2,478
Brooke 188 159 21 171 3 542
Hancock 139 100 16 267 3 525
Harrison 888 842 113 526 21 2,390
Marion 678 543 60 433 12 1,726
Marshall 637 371 58 290 8 1,364
Monongalia 750 677 70 592 17 2,106
Ohio 197 141 32 217 7 594
Preston 1,607 1,799 177 1,333 36 4,952
Taylor 491 473 65 284 14 1,327
Tucker 754 413 71 465 13 1,716
Wetzel 676 516 41 251 3 1,487
District 1 Subtotal 7,963 6,909 822 5,365 148 21,207
Berkeley 757 706 57 645 7 2,172
Grant 1,219 647 93 365 8 2,332
Hampshire 1,471 1,068 111 355 10 3,015
Hardy 1,212 774 81 296 6 2,369
Jefferson 463 411 60 445 6 1,385
Mineral 1,048 729 45 353 5 2,180
Morgan 622 562 44 251 4 1,483
Pendleton 1,275 574 59 370 4 2,282
District 2 Subtotal 8,067 5,471 550 3,080 50 17,218
Braxton 1,017 848 123 451 20 2,459
Clay 438 305 53 250 11 1,057
Lewis 1,001 1,160 105 485 20 2,771
Nicholas 1,060 862 168 634 32 2,756
Pocahontas 994 213 65 244 5 1,521
Randolph 1,685 850 185 914 20 3,654
Upshur 1,155 1,289 132 681 39 3,296
Webster 937 331 137 540 21 1,966
District 3 Subtotal 8,287 5,858 968 4,199 168 19,480
Fayette 998 441 151 694 14 2,298
Greenbrier 1,481 801 151 615 27 3,075
McDowell       628 0 628
Mercer 617 423 105 567 13 1,725
Monroe 1,193 1,099 76 505 17 2,890
Raleigh 624 229 96 806 19 1,774
Summers 701 524 74 377 9 1,685
Wyoming       974 2 976
District 4 Subtotal 5,614 3,517 653 5,166 101 15,051
Boone 672 182 109 398 19 1,380
Cabell 644 380 43 376 7 1,450
Kanawha 1,214 525 76 1,045 27 2,887
Lincoln 958 290 64 415 12 1,739
Logan       769 3 772
Mason 1,206 922 128 610 14 2,880
Mingo       410 0 410
Putnam 943 807 78 551 12 2,391
Wayne 737 53 21 291 9 1,111
District 5 Subtotal 6,374 3,159 519 4,865 103 15,020
Calhoun 698 653 63 295 7 1,716
Doddridge 659 627 38 241 3 1,568
Gilmer 800 694 76 311 7 1,888
Jackson 1,380 1,183 141 675 14 3,393
Pleasants 280 164 21 117 6 588
Ritchie 1,065 1,123 77 514 11 2,790
Roane 1,176 1,073 84 478 11 2,822
Tyler 566 542 38 258 5 1,409
Wirt 669 721 82 341 8 1,821
Wood 1,001 1,057 102 708 17 2,885
District 6 Subtotal 8,294 7,837 722 3,938 89 20,880
State Total 44,599 32,751 4,234 26,613 659 108,856

DNR seeks wildlife paintings for 2020 calendar

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is requesting original color wildlife paintings for the 2020 edition of the award-winning West Virginia Wildlife Calendar, according to DNR Wildlife Resources Section Chief Paul Johansen.

The deadline for submitting artwork is February 15, 2019.

Paintings may depict popular game and fish species or feature the state’s other wildlife such as snakes, frogs, turtles, salamanders, bats, songbirds, small mammals and nongame fish.

“This calendar offers a wonderful opportunity for artists to feature their work,“ said Johansen. “Besides distribution in West Virginia, our calendars are enjoyed by people all over the United States.“

An electronic image of each entry capable of being sized at 14½ inches wide by 11½ inches high at 300 dpi is preferred, although a high-quality print will be accepted. Artists may send in multiple entries.

Artists are reminded that the calendar format is horizontal, with measurements of 14 inches wide by 11 inches high, and they should keep this ratio in mind when creating paintings.

Paintings not chosen in previous years may be resubmitted. “Just because the artwork is not selected one year doesn’t mean it will not be selected in the future,“ said Johansen. “Often, there are several submissions of a particular species, and only one can be used in a given year.“

All artists, especially those from West Virginia, are encouraged to submit their work. A $200 prize is awarded for each painting chosen, with $500 going to the artist whose artwork is picked for the cover. Paintings are chosen based on overall composition and quality, along with anatomical and contextual accuracy. The quality of the electronic image or submitted print is very important for judging the artwork.

To obtain 2020 calendar art rules or to purchase a 2019 calendar, please contact the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Calendar Art, P.O. Box 67, Elkins, WV 26241, phone 304.637.0245. Electronic images should be emailed to:  ‘’.

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