The Roundup -

Call of the Wild

 

August 30, 2017 | View PDF

Steve Meyer of Watford City is holding the first-place call and wearing the 1st & 3rd place medals which he won in Nashville at the National Wild Turkey Federation Conference.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Antonio Stradivari made the famous violins which now fetch upwards of $15 million dollars at auction. By combining beauty and performance to make a truly lasting item of worth, Stradivari was a legend for making a violin rather than playing one. Some people simply make things better than others.

Steve Meyer falls into the same category as Stradivari, but his instrument is built to call in a large tom turkey rather than join an orchestra. Meyer has made 30 intricate turkey calls in the last twelve years, and recently won first place during a major national competition in Nashville, Tennessee.

From humble beginnings to the big time in 'The Athens of the South', Meyer appears to outdo himself every year. "I got started turkey hunting and then learned how to make turkey calls," Meyers said. "One winter, I wondered if I could make them. I took an old cedar post, cut it up and it actually worked."

His turkey calls now require over 30 hours of work for each one, and include nearly 100 individual geometric pieces. Now retired, he has taken a brief sabbatical from the rigors of his fine work. "Many times I would get up early in the morning if I was working on a project," Meyers said. "I would go to the shop at 3:00am or 4:00am. That's when I was working, so I'd probably go home at 6:00am or 6:30am to get ready for work."

But the short-lived vacation is about to be over. Meyers is already working on designs for the competition next year. Having tasted the sweetness of victory at the 2017 National Wild Turkey Federation National Call Makers competition, Meyers will bring new and improved designs to enter in 2018. While Nashville is hundreds of miles away, he will continue to deliver them personally. "I feel nervous when I make these calls and I have to ship them," Meyers said. "If they got broke, it would be pretty devastating."

Not only is Meyers protecting his creations, he and his wife are also driving the long hours to join the camaraderie which the NWFT has to offer. "It's a big competition," Meyers said. "Probably the biggest one in the US. I think they usually get about 50,000 people that come to the sport show and 1,700 [people] at a banquet. It's actually like a family. You meet them one time, then every time you see them it's like you've known them forever. It is neat, they accomplish a lot."

Meyers stresses that while he enjoys making unique and award-winning calls, he never wavers from his larger goal. As the North Dakota State Chapter President of the The National Wild Turkey Federation, he accomplishes a lot of work which aims to preserve the sport of turkey hunting. Those duties include raising funds for conservation and preservation. Or, as Meyers puts it, "Save the habitat, and save the hunt."

This is also a goal shared by the NWTF itself. During the 2017 NWFT Conference, a concurrent conference was also held which invited wildlife biologists, habitat experts, and volunteers to share information, research data, and conservation techniques.

The conference in 2018 will be very similar, and again host 80 different divisions of call making competitions for individuals to compete in. These divisions include not only both decorative and hunting turkey calls, they also allow duck and goose calls. In 2017, there were nearly 900 total entries.

Gold medal winning Star Pattern turkey caller has cherry sides, maple lid, with custom made star inlays. Inlay has 96 pieces – maple, mahogany, walnut with a bloodwood border, with maple display stand on a cherry base. The 3D Pattern has the same wood, the inlay has 94 pieces.

Last year, Meyers entered two calls into the competition. One was awarded a bronze metal in the Amateur Decorative 3-D inlay category, and the other brought home the gold. The star pattern inlay in the Decorative Division won 1st place and was scored based on artistic beauty, craftsmanship, originality, and sound.

All entries are auctioned off either in a Live or Silent auction. 50% is donated to NWTF and the other 50% goes to the call maker.

You could say Meyers has certainly found his calling. "It's neat when you make something and it works," He said. "I'm somewhat of an artist too. I like to do something challenging.

Meyers is a great example of how artisans still exist in the modern age, even in the often utilitarian sport of hunting, and how great traditions of craftsmanship are still alive and well. Maybe one day Meyers will have his own version of 'Turkey Dynasty'

As humans, we seem to have an innate need to not only make something, but to make it beautiful.

 

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