The Art Of Making A Custom Predator Call

By Steve Thompson


How can a person make a predator call from a piece of PVC pipe? I have been making such open reed calls from PVC pipe for the past 30+ years. After I crafted my first working call that met with my satisfaction, I had the gratitude of using a call that I crafted to call in and harvest many a coyote in my former years of calling.


In my earlier years of call making, I used my bench grinder to grind down each of the calls from PVC pipe pieces.  This did not allow for any consistency, but I was still able to make some quality calls.

The first calls were made from 1/2 and 3/4 inch outside diameter Schedule 20 pipe, but now I use heavier Schedule 40 and 80 pipes.  These pipes are sold as 3/8 and 1/2 inch pipe, that have outside diameters of 5/8 and 7/8 inch.  The thicker walls allow for more contact with the reed. 

The call making process has become much easier since I am now using a scroll saw and a jig made of square metal tubing as a guide to cut out the toneboard  The jig is precut with an angle grinder and then ground down with my bench grinder to the desired shape or taper for the toneboard.  Grinding the metal jig for the calls is a trial and error process that will result in the best angle or shape for the toneboard barrel for your call, allowing you to that make calls that will blow easier with greater volume. I use square metal tubing for the cutting jigs and it has a wall thickness of 3/16 inch and measures 1 1/4 by 1 1/4 inches for the 7/8" toneboard. For the 5/8" toneboard, I use smaller 1 inch square tubing and a 1/8" wall thickness. 


The pipe sections are cut to a desired length that will allow you to make two calls from one piece of pipe, hence more calls.  For my calls, this amounts to using a 5 inch piece of the pipe. 

Nails or machine screws should be placed in the upper corners of the jig to create a better seal between the pipe and the inside walls of the jig. 


I use a vise grip pliers to hold the call firmly in place within the jig, while I am cutting out the toneboard barrel portion of the call.

The cut call, yet to be finished.

Next is the sanding of the call edges, I use an orbital sander with fine sandpaper.

This is what your finished open reed caIl will look like.  I prefer industrial polyester or mylar reed material with a 0.014 thickness for my calls. I hand cut each reed with a scissors and the reed is held in place with two castrating rings. 

The calls can also be dressed up with a wood turned barrel or some people may prefer to use buffalo or cow horns as an amplifier for their call. I was worked as a Animal Damage Control Trapper for the SD Game, Fish, & Parks from 1977-1992 and used various calls while calling coyotes.

Put the Dakota Coyote Howler call in the mouth of an experienced caller and this call will blow easier and produce better howls, etc. than some of the best calls on today's market.

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