Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

September 2003

Question of the Month

What is the best game caller?

Maybe the question should have been, What is a Game Caller? Let's address that question first. Game Callers are devices to call in game, generally from a distance or from an unseen location. Originally they were designed for hunters to call in predators, exploiting a predator's desire to get an easy meal. Callers vary, ranging from mouth-blown calls that often imitate the distress cries of a rabbit, to electronic calls that play the recorded sounds of just about anything.

Most calls are designed to attract predators, and most of the purchasers of these calls are hunters hoping to draw a coyote or another predator in close enough to be shot. If your an animal lover, that use might upset you but the callers are nevertheless useful for photographers wishing to get a shot, too, from a camera.

I've used a wide variety of game callers through the years, everything from simply 'kissing" a space between my index and middle finger to draw a high-pitched squeak -- mimicking a rabbit's squeal, to callers that used CDs or tapes that played the pre-recorded calls of a huge variety of animals. The problem with most callers is that an animal drawn to the sound is also drawn toward you, and any movement you make may be seen by a predator investigating a sound. Many callers come with a loudspeaker that can be placed some distance from the caller, putting some space between the source of the sound and you, but even then you're limited to the length of the wire you're using. While this can work, it is limiting, not only in terms of being within a cord's length of speaker and control console, but also because you have to scout out the area fairly well when placing the speaker. Branches, thickets, etc., can become a real nuisance when you're trying to string a speaker cord.

Obviously, the answer to this is having a speaker that is wireless, and the best of the game callers I've seen that have that feature is a small, powerful caller called the Foxpro (website: The Foxpro doesn't look like a caller, because it is built inside a 6 volt flashlight module and looks just like a flashlight! Instead of a reflector for a light bulb, the Foxpro has a built-in loudspeaker. While that would seem to be a problem (the loudspeaker is attached to the caller), it is not, because one can order a remote control console that completely controls the Foxpro, from about100 yards away. The caller is 7" by 5", weighs less than 1.5 pounds, and uses 4 AA batteries.

The control console -- imagine a small TV remote -- has controls for increasing or decreasing the volume, starting or stopping the caller, or changing sounds. You can be concealed inside a blind, or swathed in camouflage inside a bush, and work the call, raising or lowering the volume, changing sounds, whatever, while the call is some distance away. A predator may circle the source of a sound, or hang up at a distance to check things out, before moving in close, and if you're nowhere near the sound's source, you're much more likely to not be discovered.

The Foxpro call uses a memory card built into the machine. The call will not wear out, as a tape might, and won't jam or break. You can order a Foxpro with a selection of 8, 16, or 32 different sounds from a menu of almost 50 sounds. Those calls include turkey calls, moose and elk calls, duck and goose calls, and various, make that numerous, prey animal distress cries. I ordered my Foxpro with 32 sounds, that included a barred owl call, various small animal distress cries, and turkey calls. Since I hope to use a predator call to attract a puma in South America, I also added larger prey sounds, like a calf bawl, lost sheep, kid goat cries, and deer distress cries.

Electronic game calls may be illegal to use for hunting in some states, but that law does not apply to photography. However, using a game call of any type is illegal in our national parks, and may be illegal to use in some state or regional parks, too, so know your local regulations before you use one.

Finally, using a game caller requires a certain degree of skill and a good amount of patience. I'll address this at a future time, but for now, I just wanted to let you know that a very convenient, very portable, and very efficient game caller is available, and that's the Foxpro.


Previous Questions of the Month




 Camera Techniques

 In the Field

How would you meter these images?

Why should you know Manual Mode? 

 The Sunny 16 rule -- is it worth knowing today?

  How do you shoot silhouettes?

 How would you meter these challenging images?

 Who should go Digital,
and when?
Last Posting

 What do we really think about digital photography?

 What do we think of the Canon D30 digital camera?

 How long will film be around?

 Should you have a depth of field Preview button on your camera?

 Using Zoom lenses with tele-converters and extension tubes -- can you use both together?

 What the heck is the Scheimpflug Law?

  Reciprocity Failure

 What is the Best Composition?

 Are Image Stabilization Lenses Worth the Money?

 Hyperfocal Distance

  How do you determine distances? Last Posting

 Flash and Tele-flash Techniques

 What is the most versatile remote release camera firing system?

 What the heck is a Plamp?

 What is the best flash for closeup and
macro photography?

 How do you shoot high-speed action images?
 How did I photograph that flying wasp?

 What is the Fotronix's
Flash System?


 How do we carry our film when traveling?

 How can you attract insectivorous birds to your feeding stations and bait sites?

 How do you make things happen in wildlife photography?
 What is our Favorite bird-shooting location?  What are our Five Favorite Shooting Locales?  Which binoculars do we just love to use?

How Easy is Whale Photography?
 Is NANPA for you?  What is NANPA and how will it benefit me?  

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