This Is Carolina: Hunter turns passion into profit with turkey calls

“Two boxes don’t sound the same.”
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:21 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Joe Thomas calls the shots one turkey call at a time. The avid hunter attracts the gobblers with his decorative homemade turkey call.

“One of the prettiest calls that can be made to my notion for the perfect call is the walnut. One of the prettiest woods that have different grains in it,” he said.

Thomas got into making his own kind of music after stumbling upon a 100-year-old cedar post at a friend’s hunting property.

“I just hit my head. I said ‘I think I’m going to make me a turkey call out of that thing. I always heard cedar makes good turkey calls,’” he explained. “First one I made was just straight side. I got them over there as a collector’s item. Forty-years-old there and they were the first ones I’ve ever made. They sound awful.”

Thomas has fine-tuned his calls over the years to where he could finally turn a turkey’s head.

“I creeped outside the fence where he couldn’t see me and he had some hens out there with him. I reached in and I took that thing like that and he said, gobble, gobble, gobble and I said oh, I got it made now,” he said.

Now, he shares how he makes the latest model by sawing the wood, cutting it into strips and carefully carving angles and grooves to make just the right sounds.

“It’s friction against friction. Just wood against wood. Like playing a guitar. You got to have that fingers on the cord because if not, you’re not going to get a good sound,” said Thomas.

He then spends four days and four coats of paint to sleek them down and adds chalk, the secret ingredient to mellow its sound. Finally, he seals it with his fancy stamp of approval: JNT Turkey Calls Boss Hen.

“Two boxes don’t sound the same. Turkeys are like me,” he said. “My voice and your voice ain’t the same. You got different tones. Older. Younger. I can take two boxes and make it sound like I’m a bunch of turkeys there.”

Thomas said the turkey calls got so popular, he turned his hobby into a side hustle.

“I kept making them and kept passing them around. Everybody, word of the mouth and kept telling them about it. There it went. I just kept making them and said shoot, I need to get paid for these. Most that you see in the stores look like this. They’re not pretty,” he said.

While business is booming, Thomas said it’s the smiles that mean the most.

“Seeing people enjoy it when they see one. That’s what makes it feel so good, to know that they want something like that, that you made. And they can’t believe that this is made out of a block of wood like that,” he said.

You can find Joe’s turkey calls at (843) 907-2221 or his business, Atlantic Glass Company at (843) 399-3931.

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