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A near mint post 1960s Ken Martin walnut Horse Shoe Lake Model Goose Call with proper box and calling instructions. MARK GREENIG/RECORD
A near mint post 1960s Ken Martin walnut Horse Shoe Lake Model Goose Call with proper box and calling instructions. MARK GREENIG/RECORD

Mark Greenig: The famous Horse Shoe Lake Model goose call

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outdoors Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Let’s finish up our two-part series on Ken Martin, one of the best known “Legends of the Call.” Last time we discussed Ken’s duck calls. Now, let’s have dialogue on his famous Horse Shoe Lake Goose Call Model. (Ken Martin is better known for his goose calls.) Our timing is appropriate due to the early goose season currently taking place. Over the Labor Day weekend I saw goose hunters numerous times, north of Detroit Lakes, chasing birds in picked wheat fields. Rest assured, part of their strategy was the effective use of goose calls.

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Any research on old goose calls will certainly provide information on Ken Martin products. What is impressive about such research is the multitude of copies of Ken’s Horse Shoe Lake Model goose call. Many call makers copied the design which is a testimonial to the effectiveness of this particular model. However, the true success of this item is in the sound it produces. For whatever reason, this call just works. Again, this is a highly collectible piece, yet extremely functional in the field.

The design of the Ken Martin Horse Shoe Lake Model goose call is smooth and elegant. Once you see one of these, you easily recognize it time and time again. Many collectors have a soft spot for this type of call and all are welcomed additions in their collections. Ken Martin Horse Shoe Lake Model goose calls are typically made of two piece walnut construction. Length is 6 1/4” and about 4 1/2” in diameter at the widest point. Due to its length, visual perception makes this piece look streamlined, and visually appealing.

A post mid 1960s call comes with a two-piece paper box, often light green in color. Container is 6 3/4” long, 2” wide and just over 1 3/4” deep. Box top has lettering stating, “Ken Martin Goose Call, Famous Horse Shoe Lake Model, Made To Call Wild Geese/With Instructions.” Side panel reads, “Ken Martin, Box 349, Olive Branch, Ill., 62969. Remember, you can easily date Martin calls by referencing the address on packaging.

Inside each box you would find calling instructions. These were usually light tan in color. Size is 4 1/4” by 5 1/2” and when opened, provided a wealth of calling instructions. An important part of that information was two pictures on how to properly hold the call when in use. So confident was Ken in the quality of his calls, he simply stated if the call ever went “out of tune” just return the call with three dollars. A new reed would be placed in the call and returned to you. The back side of the instructions contained a parts and price list for his goose calls. Many of Ken’s newer goose calls are signed and dated in black ink, which can impact the cost of his calls.

As stated, the sleek design and rich dark walnut tones make this call a joy to look at. Stand-alone calls are always collectible, but the complete package is what you’re looking to buy or sell. That includes the Horse Shoe Lake Model call, proper box with calling instructions. Such a standard package in very good to mint condition should be worth $70 to $90. A wise purchase considering contemporary goose calls can easily cost you $130. Think about this. Why buy a call that will depreciate in value (new call) when you can spend less money for a vintage call that, at its worst, will retain the original purchase price? Until next time, may all your searches be successful.

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