There are times when the simplest things lead to great ideas.
Les Igoe is an avid outdoorsman who had begun making friction turkey calls from pieces of old roofing slate. Walking across his backyard one day while carrying a wooden box used in calls, he spotted a shell left over from an oyster roast.
"I picked it up, turned it upside down on the box and hit it a couple of times with the striker and it barked back at me real good," Igoe said. "I thought to myself, 'This sounds like it would work.' I put one on a box and it worked really well and I've been making them ever since."
Igoe put together several and took them to a few shops that specialize in hunting and found himself in the middle of a thriving business venture, equal parts turkey call as well as Lowcountry art. The calls are retailing for $49.95, and Igoe said he's having a difficult time keeping pace with the demand.
The boxes are made from dried deadfall timber with an oyster shell attached, while the strikers are constructed from pieces of dried bamboo, a piece of working art.
"I started off making box calls with the paddles," Igoe said. "But I'm exclusively making these now. I can't make them fast enough. I could make maybe four a day with the strikers and that's working close to a 10-hour day. It takes longer to make them than to sell them. I think with the off-season I may be able to build up an inventory."
Do they work? Igoe has video proof. He called in two turkeys while bow-hunting Thursday morning but ended up missing the shots.
Igoe, who now lives in Walterboro, has the calls in Carolina Rod and Gun in Charleston, Atlantic Bait and Tackle in Mount Pleasant, Walterboro Feed and Seed, Westbury Ace Hardware in Walterboro and Barron's Sporting Goods in Columbia.
If Igoe's name sounds familiar, you may remember it from an earlier venture in which he did "how-to" videos on shrimp baiting, flounder gigging and fishing.
The 52-year-old has worked in the construction industry since he was a teen, but a layoff in February has allowed him to pursue other interests. In addition to the turkey calls, he also is making custom furniture, and he has applied to join the South Carolina Artisans Center in Walterboro.
"I was in the construction industry a long time and I love the outdoors, too," Igoe said. "I just kind of ended up blending the two together. Maybe I'm not going to be able to make a living doing this, but so far it's been lucrative enough for me to stick with it."