One of the best parts of being part of the press at the NWTF was the ability to visit the exhibitors on Thursday evening before the exhibit hall opened to the general public on Friday morning. As I was drifting through booth after booth of call after call, for some inexplicable reason I was suddenly drawn to Wilper Custom Calls small booth. It wasn’t a flashy, fancy, booth. It was a working man’s booth.. a little plain, a single banner, and a table displaying beautiful box calls. Box calls with variety beautiful inscriptions on them.
I immediately began to read the inscription on a rack of 20 small box calls and was set back a little - Wow I thought.. recycled wood from Fort Leavenworth.
Scott Wilper, the owner and call maker was a genuinely, real, warm, and friendly fellow from Wellington, Missouri who was happy to take the time to tell me the story of how received the historic wood when some buildings were taken down at Fort Leavenworth. Wilper further told me, that he like to find and use historical salvage wood to make his calls. “The history of the wood gives the call a little something extra, makes it a little more special” Because Wilper often only receives small amounts of historical salvage wood, all the calls he makes from historically significant wood are signed, numbered, limited editions - adding to their value as a collectors item.
Don’t think that these are only collector calls, and not fully functional in the field. Wilper’s calls are as sweet sounding as they are sweet looking. Wilper told me the story of his first trip to NWTF in 2011, on a wing, a prayer and mostly fueled by pure hope and his desire to share his love of turkey calling and his hand crafted calls with others, “I’m just a plain fella from Missouri who likes to make calls. It’s my relaxation, my therapy I guess. Nothing is done with a machine. These are all hand done, the old fashioned way.” That first trip to the 2011 NWTF convention was pivotal for Wilper - his patent pending one of a kind “Pocket Rocket” call sold out in the first few hours of the show. This 5” box has big sound for a little call. It fits easily in your pocket and has that sweet sound that will bring that gobbler in. The Pocket Rocket was also approved by Alex Rutledge at the 2011 Missouri Big Buck Classic show.
Wilper’s warm, friendly, easy to talk with personality, along with our mutual love of all things historical resulted in a a long visit that Thursday evening. I felt that I had not just gotten to know a call maker, but had truly made a friend. I knew I had to have one of the Pocket Rocket style calls, but more importantly one of the historic Ft. Leavenworth calls. During our conversation we talked about our families, our hunting memories, our outdoor memories, and the importance of passing down calls, and equipment, as his daughters played quietly at his feet.
Although from a collectors standpoint, one would think I would want number one in the Fort Leavenworth series, but what I wanted was number 20 of the twenty. I had shared with Wilper that this year would be our twentieth wedding anniversary, we had gotten married the first week of turkey season, and our first date had been to the spring turkey and mushroom woods. I wanted number 20 for my husband for Valentine’s Day.
Trust me, being married to me for 20 years has not been easy, nor something most men would want to take on. After all, I’m always in the woods, a rotten housekeeper, and tend to out shoot and and out fish my mate.
Wilper’s eyes lit up, he grabbed me in big hug and and promptly handed me the signed numbered call - “Wait a minute!” he grinned as he took the call back. “What’s your husband’s name? ” - before I knew it, he had inscribed a special message to Critter on the call.
I hesitantly asked if that seemed like a suitable Valentine/Anniversary present for that wrangly old hippie that tolerates my wild woman behavior. The general consensus among the other hunters/vendors watching this unfold was a resounding YES!
So this morning, just out of meanness, I woke my dearly beloved up with a turkey call in his ear. ( He should be used to this sort of ting, Lord knows I’ve woke him up with enough duck calls.)
“Baby - it’s not even turkey season yet..do you have to practice at 5AM? ” he mumbled. Once I handed him his coffee and the call it all became clear… a sweet call for a sweetheart.
Happy Valentine’s Day friends! May your sweetheart remember you today with something special too!