Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Make your own open-reed coyote/predator call

Imagine being able to actually talk to predatory animals? You can by making your own predator call and coyote howler. Coyotes, bobcats, fox, mountain lion and other predators all respond to the sound of an injured animal. Believe it or not, all of the above respond and will come to the call of an injured jackrabbit. If they think there is a free meal to be had, the predators will come in for it. You can purchase what is called an open-reed predator call from call companies like or you can attempt to make one yourself. The instructions below will allow you to make a nice, small open reed call or a coyote howler, using a cow horn that can be purchased at craft stores.
Making your own mouth blown predator calls and howlers is a fun and interesting project. I found that once I started making my own calls, I became really interested in the tuning aspects of the whole project. There are no rules and you can do whatever you like to perfect your own distinctive calls.
Going to the Sound Files page of will give you examples of what your calling should sound like. Once you finish making your call, practice until you can mimic the sounds on that Sound Files page and you are ready to call in some predators.

WARNING: Keep in mind that you are calling in predatory animals. These animals can be dangerous to you and people around you. Make sure you watch your back and don’t go calling alone.

You will need to assemble the following raw materials:
  • A section of 5/8” Delrin rod with a hollow center or you can also use PVC pipe a hardwood or whatever is handy
  • Rubber bands to hold the reed in place (castration bands from a feed store work best)
  • Reed material. You can buy 8” X 10” thin Mylar sheets at craft shops. It is used for pattern making.

The Delrin rod is shown with a hole through the center. This core becomes the mouthpiece or sound board of your call.

Step 1

The first step is to do the preliminary layout for the construction of your mouthpiece. I find it easier to use masking tape and I mask out the material to mark my basic first cuts. Once marked with the masking tape, the next step is the band saw. I have also used a hacksaw, a Mikita cordless circular saw and a Dremel tool cutter to perform the cuts. A band saw works best however.

Note that the cut bisects the upper third of the hole in the center of the Delrin rod.

Step 2

The photo to the left shows the Delrin rod after the cuts have been made. When making the longitudinal cut, let the blade cut back past the tape a tad. This will provide a small notch for the rear of the reed to rest in.

Step 3

I perform the shaping with a belt sander, using a 220-grit belt. After doing the rough shaping (shown at left) I fair the project out by hand using 220 & 320 grit paper. Delrin can also be wet sanded with “wet & dry” sandpaper for a super smooth finish.
In the photo to the left you can easily see the effect of the extended longitudinal cut for the reed end.

Step 4

Here is where it starts to get a bit tricky. You may say this is the “tuning” stage. Now it is a matter of reed material, reed length, reed thickness, reed shape and reed width. Another factor is the “shape” you made the mouthpiece end of the Delrin rod. At this stage, there are many variations and experimentation is the name of the game. Adjust the factors mentioned above to create the sound you are looking for. With a little luck and patience, you will have no problems getting the desired tone and pitch. Trial and error is the name of the game here. Hint: Play around more with your reed material prior to making any shaping changes on your mouthpiece. It’s a lot easier to change the reed than to cut out and shape another mouthpiece.

Step 5

Your basic mouthpiece is pictured to the left and has the reed mounted and banded with a “castration band”. To change the tone, adjust the reed by cutting shorter, thinner and moving the band up or down. Play with different reed materials and perform your own experiments until the desired tone and pitch range is achieved.
You have now completed the heart of your open reed predator call. You can mount it in a holder tube or go on to Step 6 and make a coyote howler.

This photo shows another style of mouthpiece mounted in a tube to make an open reed predator call. I made the tube from a solid Delrin rod and then machined the grooves in it on a lathe.
You don’t need any fancy tools or a lathe. You can make your tube from PVC or any other material that is handy. In the example above, the tube is about 3.5” long.
Some call makers love to use wood to make calls and some use metal, plastic or whatever suits their fancy. Keep your first one simple and get out and call some critters.

Step 6

The photo on the left shows the fitting of the mouthpiece to construct a cow horn coyote howler. The end of the horn was cut off with a band saw (don’t cut off too much!). Once you cut off the end of the horn there won’t be a visible hole through the horn. You’ll have to drill a hole using a ¼” drill bit through the center of the end, into the open part inside the horn.
After making your hole within an eighth of an inch of the horn’s sidewall, use a file or a rotary rasp to rough fit the mouthpiece. Do the final fitting with 100-grit sandpaper until the mouthpiece can be forced gently into place. Remove the mouthpiece and set aside. It’s time to sand and polish a bit before finally gluing in the mouthpiece.

Step 7

Now it is time to shape and wet sand the cow horn. Begin by sanding a slight bevel on the cut you made to the horn where the mouthpiece is to be inserted. You can do the rough bevel with the belt sander and the finish work with 100 and 220-grit sandpaper. After that is done, it’s time to take some 320-grit “wet & dry” sandpaper and wet sand the entire cow horn (I am assuming you purchased an unfinished horn). After wet sanding smooth, clean the inside of the horn and dry with a rag.
The final buffing will be a lot easier if you have a cloth buffing wheel on a grinder. I use 3M fine finishing compound to do the initial buffing and finish off with a glazing compound. The horn shines up very nicely and looks great when finished. See photo below.
Your finished product can be a howler or a mouth call. Your finished coyote or predator caller is only limited by your imagination. Have fun with this project and make several calls that have varied tones for different animals.

Whatever you do, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you called in that song dog or bobcat with a call that you made with your own two hands. For more info visit RedHunterLLC.

Best regards……


  1. Wow. This is awesome. I've been wondering how to make my own calls, and you've made it easy. Thanks a tonne!


  2. Question could i use a saxophone mouthpiece and neckpiece.

  3. Too bad you didn't say what size hole to drill in the 5/8" tubing. I guess you assumed everyone would be using Delrin with a hole already drilled. I'm sure if you went to any hardware store and asked for Delrin tubing, they wouldn't have any idea what you were talking about.

  4. How big is the mouth peice length wise no deminsions for that is there?