How to make a simple, but effective, clothes pin quail call
By JIM MATTHEWS
I am notoriously cheap.
Years ago a friend gave me a very nice Iverson wooden quail call that I used and treasured for years before losing it. It was a simple rubber band call made from rosewood. I had taken it apart enough times to replace the rubber band that I figured out what made the call tick. After trying the other calls on the market, I was frustrated with their sound and the fact that you can’t change the rubber band. In essence, they were $10 to $15 throw-away calls that rarely lasted me through a season.
A friend from a local chapter of Quail Unlimited (now Quail Forever), showed me how to make a simple, but effective call from a wooden clothes pin, black electrical tape, and a rubber band. With a little tweaking, they sounded great. The best part is that you can make about 100 for less than $10.
While I also started making my own wooden calls, I have a few clothes pin calls in my hunting gear and vehicles as back-up. Here’s what you need and and how to make them:
A clothes pin quail call is simple to make and accurately imitates the calls of both California valley quail and Gambel’s quail. All you need to make this call is a wooden clothes pin, electrical tape, and a No. 30, 31, or 32 rubber band. These rubber bands are 1/8th of an inch wide and approximately 1/16th of an inch thick. A No. 31 measures about 2 3/4-inches long when squashed flat on a ruler.
Step 1: Take the metal piece out of the clothes pin so you have two pieces of wood.
Step 2: Take one of the pieces of wood and make three or four wraps of black electrical tape around the fat end of the wood. The call works best if you cover the slot where the metal piece was attached.
Step 3: Take three or four wraps of electrical tape around the skinny end of the same piece of wood. Make sure the tape is smooth on the flat side of the wood as you wrap the tape on. The beauty of electrical tape is that it’s pretty stretchy and makes this easy.
Step 4: Take the rubber band and place it around the taped wood length-wise. Make sure the rubber band is centered along the flat side of the wood. With a rubber band that is too long for the wood, you may end up with a loop on the outside of the call.
Step 5: Take the other piece of wood and place the flat side of this wood against the flat side of the taped piece of wood so the rubber band is trapped between the two flat pieces of clothespin. Now pinch the two pieces of wood together and tightly tape them together at one end. I like to keep the two fat ends of the wood together for this process. Try to keep the flat insides of the two pieces of wood parallel to each other. The call is effectively done at this point.
Step 6: Blow through the slit between the two pieces across the rubber band. You can tune the call by applying different pressure with your fingers to the un-taped end of the call. You can leave the call this way or tape the skinny end of the call together once you determine the correct pressure for the sound you like, effectively locking it in at this pitch. The tighter you pinch the call, the higher the pitch.
The rubber band functions as the reed and makes a very life-like imitation of the quail. Don’t expect perfection with your first call. Make several. You will get the hang of it quickly. Show the kids how to make these. Some of these calls sound really outstanding.
The basic valley quail call is a melodic three-note sequence that sounds like “Chi-caaa-go.” The Gambel’s quail is very similar, albeit more nasally.
If you’d like these directions with photos in a color PDF document you can print out and keep handy (or save digitally), one is available to download at this direct link.
Consider this my little present to all of my equally frugal readers to end 2017.