By Carlee Frank
Chances are you’ve met many people with the names Jake, Jenny and Tom –but have you ever met a turkey? Yes, a jake, jenny and tom are all different categories of turkey. Jakes and jennies are young male and female turkeys, and a tom is a mature male turkey. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, today, there are roughly 6 million of these wild birds in the United States, but research shows that the turkey population has dropped by 700,000 in the last five years due to suboptimal habitat and over population.
Hunters and conservation organizations work tirelessly each year to maintain the health and population of this species. David Halloran, Ellicottville-native and sportsman, founded David Halloran Turkey Calls to aid in the sanctioned harvesting of wild turkeys. He makes box calls, pot calls, mouth calls and crow calls by the thousands each year in his shop based locally in Ellicottville. However, he said it all began at the age of 12.
“There was a neighbor up the road that dropped me off a turkey hunting magazine and actually took me for my first turkey hunt,” Halloran said. “He gave me a turkey call and I said, ‘Oh, you know, I can do that’. I was always crafty as a kid and we had a shop at the house so it just kept going after that.”
By the time he was in high school, Halloran was selling turkey calls nationally and receiving national acclaim. He won the Best of Show Pot Call for his crystal pot call at the 2005 Midwest Call Competition, and at the 2008 National Wild Turkey Federation Grand National Competition –which holds 55,000 people –he won first place in the slate call division.
In 2011, Halloran won the DD Adams award for best sounding pot call in the nation with his Crystal Mistress call. Recently, he was even featured in a Field & Stream magazine article titled The Best New Turkey Hunting Gear for 2018 for his new Ebony and Walnut Checkered Box call.
As his business grows, he has also received offers from outdoor stores such as Cabela’s and Bass Pro, which until this point have not been accepted.
“I don’t dare get into too many big box stores, because even if I’m making them all, the perception is that I’m not,” Halloran said.
Each call is made out of various types of wood to both produce the best sound and nicest design. He uses a lot of local cedar wood, as well as exotic wood from South America, Africa and Indonesia. Purple heart, as the name suggests, has a beautiful purple color, ebony wood is a rich black and blood wood from South America is a deep red color.
Since each type of wood makes a different sound, Halloran laughed that there was a lot of trial and error and many duds before he got the desired sound for each call. Turkeys make many vocalizations –such as a purr, cluck, yelp and gobble –so each David Halloran Turkey Call is designed to produce a large number of these noises.
Some calls are struck by hand, some are blown into and others are manipulated by hand. Halloran said they’re like an instrument that hunters need to learn.
He noted that nearly 80 percent of his clientele is from South Carolina to Florida and out to Mississippi and Alabama, while only 2 percent or so is from New York.
“Turkey hunting down south is like religion. Up here people turkey hunt but it’s not as serious,” Halloran said.
He said he’s been fortunate enough to make connections with southern congressmen such as Austin Scott of Georgia and representatives from Florida and Alabama. He said he recently made 75 calls for Representative Scott and Representative Palmer (AL) branded with their name and the US House of Representatives seal.
At a recent outdoor show in Nashville, the US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, found David’s booth and let him know how much he enjoyed using his calls, which Secretary Perdue received as a gift from Representative Scott.
Halloran travels frequently, and said one of his favorite parts of the business is meeting new people and visiting new places. In fact, Halloran said he luckily met his wife Ashley in high school while at a NWTF show in Nashville. He said she has helped tremendously with David Halloran Turkey Calls and often times stays up until 1 a.m. processing and shipping orders.
In New York State, the spring turkey hunting season begins May 1. If you’re a turkey hunter, it’s worth a visit to www.davidhalloranturkeycalls.com to check out the selection before you head out!