In early 1996 I read an article on Charles Jordan and his yelper, which showed a photo of one of his original calls. I knew I’d never be able to afford the real deal, but thought they can’t be hard to make, after all their appearance was not much more than that of a cigarette holder. I put a few together with white nylon for mouthpieces and tubing for barrels. During the year I learned how to make some sounds on the calls but was far from satisfied.
When the Nov/Dec issue of “Turkey Call” came out there was a reprinted article by Tom Turpin showing how to make a Jordan yelper complete with dimensions. Trouble was the dimensions supplied with the drawing did not work for me. They were not even consistent between two drawings of the call shown. I kept making changes in my dimensions to get what worked for me. By trial and error and switching materials to delrin and phenolic tube, my “Indestructible ” was born.
Howard Harlan’s book on turkey calls mentions that Turpin borrowed a Jordan yelper from John K. Renaud for study. The result was Turpin’s first yelper design shown in Plate 5-23 of Howard’s book. The drawing is credited to a 1917 copy of “Field and Stream”. Turpin added a bell to the Jordan design and a .22 Savage HP case as a ferrule to protect and support a cane mouthpiece. I took the appearance a step further, adding a rim to the bell and using ivory for mouthpieces or at times hen wing bones. Interior dimensions for my 1917 style call came from my little ‘Indestructible” described above.
After coming up with a method to make these calls I proceeded to do a limited edition of 75 in various woods and 20 in ivory. This became the first generation edition. But had no place to put a lanyard. (A call from this edition won the first Tom Turpin Award at the NWTF national convention in 2004.) After many requests to make a 1917 with a place to put a lanyard, I produced a second generation edition of the same numbers with a lanyard area either turned as part of the wood barrel or of a piece of machined brass inserted below the ferrule. The first few made being the ones with lanyard area turned in the barrel.
Many 1917s have been produced outside of the two numbered limited editions, as singles and sets. In place numbers these calls have initials of the purchaser or of their children and grandchildren. My initials “RP” are stamped on the reverse of every call.