Call of the Wild

North Vernon, Ind.’s Morley
has knack for the knife

With turkey season approaching,
he has increased production

NORTH VERNON, Ind. (March 2014) – Tim Morley has always been a hands-on kind of guy. As a child, he learned woodworking from his father. Since finishing a five-year stint with the U.S. Coast Guard on Lake Michigan in Chicago, the 28-year-old resident of North Vernon, Ind., has taken a professional turn with his carving. Morley crafts game calls for hunting turkeys, ducks and geese. He markets his products through Facebook and Twitter and sells them out of his home.
“It didn’t start as a business,” Morley said, “but it’s turned into that. I am very much a hunter and thought I could supply a product for hunters. I know what the expectations are.”
The call-making process, in Morley’s words, is one that demands a good sense for design in order to produce the most efficient tool.

turkey call

Photos provided

Tim Morley of North Vernon, Ind., creates unique hunting calls. A turkey call (top), duck call (middle) and goose call (bottom) are among his many creations.

With the turkey-hunting season approaching in April, Morley has increased his production of turkey calls. These are typically formed using a pot or piece of wood covered with glass or slate, which makes a turkey sound when it is struck. Slate and glass produce calls at different pitches. Duck and geese calls share the same principle as a whistle.
“When you blow into the barrel, there’s a reed that makes the quacking sound because of the way it’s shaped and curved,” Morley explained. He makes custom reeds from Mylar.
He says he tries to price his game calls fairly, at an average price of $45. Calls sell at a wide range of prices, some as low as $12 while brand names may dent a hunter’s wallet at $170 or more.
Not only hunters purchase Morley’s designs. Some simply like the look of his designs – which vary from a traditional wood grain with a glossy finish to bright striped plywood – and buy them as Christmas gifts. “They put them up on the shelves for decoration. That’s cool to me,” Morley said. “I go out of my way to design pieces that look interesting.”
Morley said he began making custom game calls before the craft became popular, growing out of the phenomenon surrounding A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” reality show. The rise in call-making companies since the show became a hit “has gotten kind of ridiculous,” in Morley’s opinion. “I have to do a lot more advertising just to keep up when I should be using that time to make calls. When you have a family and another job, it takes a lot of time management.”
Call makers who dream of building a merchandise empire are in the wrong business, he said. Seeing people take joy in a customized, handmade item satisfies him.
Morley said he hopes to design a deer call in the future, theorizing it would be popular in Indiana. For now, however, his most positive response comes from turkey call sales for the upcoming turkey season, and he focuses on meeting that particular demand.
The 2014 wild turkey hunting season lasts from April 23 to May 11 in Indiana, and hunters must limit themselves to one bearded or male turkey per season. Hunting hours start an hour before sunrise and end at sunset. In Kentucky, the season spans April 12 to May 4. Hunters may take no more than two birds for the season.
A study from the Indiana Fish and Wildlife Division revealed that the number of turkey hunters in Indiana increased by an estimated 3,000 in 2013. The study also suggests hunters have a better chance of a successful harvest “in the early part of the season and the early morning hours.”
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, turkey-hunting season’s renewed popularity comes after long efforts to restore the wild turkey population in Indiana. Until 1945, unregulated hunting and timber destruction caused turkeys to disappear from the Midwest. The number of turkeys revived through controlled trapping of wild birds and the implementation of statewide conservation practices, although strict limits remain in place.
Morley plans to sell his game calls in a Madison, Ind., store eventually. Until then, he will continue to advertise and sell his product through his Facebook page under the business name, Final Descent Calls. He plans to soon change the name of his business to TM Game Calls. He predicts an active spring hunting season, saying, “I wish I had more time for it myself this year, but I’m happy to help out other hunters.”

• For more information, call Tim Morley at (812) 592-7144.

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