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Use Thanksgiving Leftovers to Make a Turkey Yelper or Necklace

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

Native Americans crafted turkey calls and necklaces from turkey bones. Put your Thanksgiving leftovers to good use with these projects.

Primitive technology expert Dan Coates suggests starting with the turkey call (or yelper). That way, if you mess up, you can use those bones for the beads and try again with the other set of wing bones.


Take this bird caller out in the field to lure wild turkeys. Use it to imitate different turkey calls or yelps, like this one:


What You’ll Need

  • Turkey bones
  • Hacksaw or coping saw
  • Stiff wire or wooden skewers
  • Dish detergent
  • Saucepan
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Knife
  • Leather lace
  • Sandpaper
  • Glue
  • Pencil or fine-tip market

What You’ll Do

1. Take the three largest wing bones as shown above.

2. Add one teaspoon of dish detergent and the bones into a saucepan of water. Boil for about an hour, rinse and let cool.

3. While the bones are still wet, saw the ends off the wing bones.

4. Use the wire or skewers to clean out as much marrow as possible. Scrape the outside of the bones with a knife. Boil again as in Step 2. You can brighten the bones by soaking them overnight in 3% hydrogen peroxide. (DO NOT use bleach, which will weaken the bones.) Rinse the bones, and let them dry completely.

5. Sand and shape the bones so they fit snugly inside each other.

6. Glue the yelper together.

7. Use the leather lace to make a lanyard for carrying the yelper around your neck. You can tie the lanyard to the yelper using a whipping knot.

How to Use the Yelper

Hold the turkey caller down like a recorder. Suck on the small end, making a short, smooching sound. The sound you’ll hear is a “yelp,” not “gobble-gobble-gobble.”

Watch and listen as Sam R., of Troop 28, demonstrates on his homemade turkey yelper:


What You’ll Do

Choose two vertebrae from the back bones and the three largest wing bones. Follow steps 2 through 4 above. The only difference is you’ll be cutting several necklace beads as shown.

Sand the two vertebrae flat, glue them together and set aside to dry. Clean and sand all the necklace pieces, and slide them onto a length of string or leather lace. To keep smaller-diameter beads from sliding into larger ones, tie an overhand knot between beads.

Using your knife, carefully scratch your initials or a pattern into the bone beads. Color with pencil or marker and rub off excess, leaving a tint inside the scraping, which will make it look like scrimshaw. Seal with a thin layer of white glue.


Check out these photos of the completed projects sent to us by Boys’ Life readers. If you have a photos of a BL Workshop project, please use the form below to send them to us.

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55 Comments on Use Thanksgiving Leftovers to Make a Turkey Yelper or Necklace

  1. I use this a a final project after a selfbow class. Easy. All get a good result. couple of packs of turkey wings and it’s on!


  3. I think this is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!fun

  4. BearDenLeader // November 23, 2014 at 8:59 pm // Reply

    This looks like so much fun! I’m going to share this with my Den!!

  5. Awesome!! =D

  6. Mountainman17 // December 4, 2013 at 11:40 am // Reply

    I’m making it right now. The caller, that is.

  7. BUCK BANTAM BBW // November 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm // Reply

    cool but what if your turkey had no bones:(

  8. COOL I DID THET IN SCOOL!!!!!! (: ):

  9. Cool Beans! 😉

  10. wow cool but im vegan 🙁

  11. I’m so going to make the necklace

  12. Will333rocks // November 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm // Reply

    That’s cool!

  13. Nick The Jumping Spider // November 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm // Reply

    What do i use to cut the turkey bones?

  14. :0 AWSOME

  15. Can this work for chicken too?

  16. wow! that’s cool!

  17. holy turkey!!
    🙂 :0 😮

  18. AWSOME!!!!!

  19. Holy cow!!!!!!!!!

  20. Looks awesome!!!

  21. note to self: you need to clean the bones before you boil the bones

  22. me myself and I // November 23, 2012 at 10:53 am // Reply

    I made the yelper and it sounds great! thanks

  23. I cant find the bones in the turkey.


    • When you cut off the whole wing near the body there are four bones inside it. You need the three largest one. Easiest if you start with the wing attached o the bird and remove the whole thing, don’t know how to describe hem after all the skin nd meat are removed.

  24. cool but i need turkey

  25. coolio !!!!!!!!!!!!! =D

  26. cool but i need turkey

  27. Sir Monticus. // June 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm // Reply

    Well this is a neat project. It looks fairly simple, but is very costing in time. Thank you Boys’ Life for another amazing craft!

  28. I am just now going to start. I have had them in a bag since November letting them dry completely dry. I cant wait to start. “LETS DO DIS THANG!”

  29. I need turkey

  30. Supper Awesome Dude // January 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm // Reply


  31. made a few for hole family

  32. london bridge // November 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm // Reply

    IT WORKS!!!!!!

  33. yelper really works!

  34. cool yelper. Seems easy to make.

  35. that is cool

  36. im trying it right now!

  37. awsome just awsome

  38. awsome! I am going to try it as soon as I can!

  39. Cubmaster Carlson // November 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm // Reply

    You can also use the turkey neck bones to make a cool dragon woggle. There are seven neck bones, cook and clean like the other bone cleaning directions. Use one neck bone, add two beads for eyes, while the rest looks like a dragon face. Glue to pvc pipe.

  40. cool :O :0 😮

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