Spring turkey seasons lure legions of hunters into fields and forests across the continent, anxious for their shot at one of North America’s most addictive game birds. Anthony Foster understands these hunters’ passion. In fact, he’s shared it for more than four decades. Foster, a master call maker and design engineer for Primos Hunting, has been hooked on the sport since venturing into the northern Mississippi backwoods in early childhood. “I’ve hunted turkeys since I was 8 years old,” he says. “And it’s still a major part of my life.”
At the age of 7, he met a fellow hunter at the family deer camp who introduced him to what would quickly become another lifelong obsession. “He was into calling turkeys and deer, and I was fascinated by it,” Foster recalls.
Start Of A Craftsman
He wasn’t content to merely call wild game, however. Foster wanted to create his own calls, and it wasn’t long until he began doing just that. “My dad had a wood shop where he built furniture, and he encouraged me to use his tools to build turkey calls,” he says.
Drawing on his father’s knowledge of woodworking, Foster experimented with different types of wood and call-making methods. As the years passed, he continued crafting calls, ever in search of a better tone or more user-friendly design.
“Every call I picked up off the shelf at sporting goods stores was treated like a noisemaker…I thought there had to be a better way.”
“The biggest thing that drew me into call making was how every call I picked up off the shelf at sporting goods stores was treated like a noisemaker, with no rhythm or actual note to it,” he says. “You had to work so hard to get a note out of it, I thought there had to be a better way.”
Countless hours and thousands of prototypes later, he drew closer to his objectives. “I learned a lot about the entire process,” he continues. “The right wood is critical. I spent a lot of time studying how sound travels and resonates through different types of wood, and ended up focusing on the same high-quality woods and grains used for musical instruments like violins.”
As his creations improved, Foster began making calls for other people, and eventually connected with members of the hunting industry, including turkey calling champion Preston Pittman and Primos Hunting’s Brad Farris.
“Farris really liked one of my box calls,” Foster recalls. “He introduced me to Will and Jimmy Primos, and before long I was making calls for Primos Hunting on a contract basis. I enjoyed working with them so much, I joined the company full-time in 2002. Today I’m involved in the production of everything from game cameras to shooting sticks, but calls are still my forte.”
One of his newest creations, the Primos Hensanity pot-style turkey call, is due to hit the market this spring. “It will be one of the best on the market by far,” he promises. “The Hensanity allows hunters to produce the sounds of 20 different turkeys with one call.”
A lifetime of hunting turkeys and studying their vocalizations and behavior has taught Foster much about how to talk them into range.
“Patience is the most important virtue of turkey calling,” he begins. “Avoid the temptation to call too much. Learn when to be quiet and let the bird respond. In fact, making a gobbler wait is often the best way to get him fired up enough to come looking for you. Remember, it’s natural for hens to go to the toms. If you respond right away, he may think you’ll come to him. Your job is to offer enough enticement to lure the tom to you.”
Foster also advises hunters to take time to truly learn how to communicate with their quarry. “Learning to ‘speak the language’ is more than a catch phrase,” he says. “Far more toms come to the call when you actually sound like a real turkey. For example, calling too loudly can be a turnoff. It’s like one person yelling at another—that conversation isn’t going to last very long.”
To speed the learning curve, he recommends plenty of practice afield—and focusing on communication, not the end game. “I love to call birds in and let them walk,” he confides. “The more toms you pass up, the more you learn and the better caller you become. Plus, witnessing the show a tom puts on in front of you—drumming, gobbling and shaking the earth—is rewarding all by itself.”
Foster says hunting videos like Primos’ Truth series are also helpful learning tools. “If you’re just starting out, finding an experienced hunter to take you under his or her wing is a great way to learn more about the sport,” he adds. “And if you’re really serious about upping your game, plan a hunting trip to an area where gobblers are extremely hard to call, like southern Mississippi.”
“I feel very blessed for all the memories. I pray God gives me plenty more seasons of turkey hunting in the future.”
He also advises beginning hunters to master one call first. “Start with a good-quality box call,” he suggests. “They’re generally easy to use.”
Looking ahead, Foster is eager to help Primos develop more products to help hunters get more game and have more fun. Of course, he also hopes for more adventures of his own. “I feel very blessed for all the memories,” he says. “I pray God gives me plenty more seasons of turkey hunting in the future.” To which a chorus of fellow hunters with similar requests will no doubt add a resounding amen.