A lathe and a pillar drill, as well as an innate passion for nature and good woodworking skill, with these few ingredients, an unknown craftsman from Zaffalere, a small village in the north of Belgium, began about 20 years ago to produce what would become the most famous European call for hunting corvids.
The craftsman in question is Sam Neyt (if you don’t know his story, you can read it here, it’s in English), and the reference I am referring to is the FT3 Premium European Crow Call, known by hunters from half of Europe simply as FT3.
I started using it in 2016 when Claudio published the guide on rook hunting, which made me fall in love with this hunt. Today, after years of use spent refining the recall technique, I decided to write a review on the FT3 to analyze its strengths and weaknesses, tell you why you should buy it and why not, and leave you some helpful advice on how to best use it.
Purchase and Tested Version
The recall you see in the picture I bought it in 2019 directly on The shooting Gears, Yes, I know, you are wondering: “But how? You said you have been using it since 2016….” Unfortunately, I lost the first one (I’llI’ll explain how it went below).
I chose the rosewood version for the new purchase, a little lighter than the other available model, in walnut wood. Within a week, the FT3 was at my house, shipped in a plain white envelope along with the lanyard to wear around the neck. Nothing more than what is expected from an artisanal product.
Meanwhile, Sam had emailed me a manual with detailed explanations on how to use it in English. If you are starting with this hunt, it is essential to read it well! If you are already an expert, read it anyway! There you will find valuable advice on the best calling techniques.
I’ll tell you right away: the first time you bring it to your mouth to try to play it, you will hardly be able to make a sound similar to that of a crow. Primarily if, like me, you’ve been used to whistling only with duck calls for years. It will be natural for you to try to play it the same way, and it won’t be quick to get used to it.
In 2016 it took me a few days to reproduce a sound similar to that of a crow and a few months to get good hunting results. Sam’sSam’s manual and videos help; you can find them here.
For the rest, the lure has a simple and compact design: the wooden bell, on which the initials SN are engraved, has a good shape, which allows it to be easily held between index and thumb, and a groove to which the cord can be anchored.
The black ABS insert is glued to the bell (alas, it cannot be disassembled to perform a thorough cleaning). At the end, it has two valuable recesses to hold the recall between the teeth and continue calling while shooting (if you are wondering why should you do it, you don’t know the “Panic call”… maybe we’ll talk about it in another article).
Before discussing the hunting trials, it is worth underlining two technical aspects of this call: the FT3 is tuned to be effective on three species: the Hooded Crow, the Black Crow, and the Jackdaw. This differentiates it from the US-made calls, which have a tone more suited to American species. Sometimes magpies also respond to FT3, but it is not a specific call for this species, which has limited effectiveness.
The FT3 is a powerful call; it is designed to get sound up to 500 meters. This is an aspect that should not be underestimated, both to be able to exploit its potential over long distances and to avoid calling nearby crows “too loud.”
Trials to Hunt
Although several years have passed, I remember precisely the first time I used it in the field. It was October; I was hunting with my brother and our two Drahthaar. I had been taking FT3 for less than a week. At the sight of the first two crows, I could not resist and broke the silence of the countryside with a loud “Craaa Craaaa Craaaaa.”
The comment of my brother, who still did not know anything about the call, was laconic: “F ** kor do you? With that thing, you frighten everyone!”. And in fact, the two gray ones ran away as if we had shot them.
Since that day, the FT3 has always come hunting with me, both when I was explicitly dedicated to stalking the corvids and when I went out with the pointing dog. After two months of rehearsals, dozens of frightened crows, some shot down, and hundreds of sarcastic comments endured, around January 2017, I was able, in my opinion, to play it reasonably well.
I tell you “in my opinion” because I had not yet had a real confirmation of its effectiveness. Let me explain: in stalking some crow, I always managed to pull it to play. But the yield was very variable, sometimes I called them, and they entered, sometimes not, other times they entered plumb even without calling them. In short, it was not easy to understand how much the recall influenced other factors, such as the print, the choice of the area, or the mimicry of the shed.
The actual confirmation came the following season, on one of those foggy mornings typical of Lomellina, where you can see more than 15 meters away. I was stationed under the wood of locust trees, not too far from a reasonably busy dormitory. The crows croaked from a distance, I called them, and they come straight over my head and emerge like ghosts in the fog. I had no molds or shed; it could have been thanks to the chosen place (not being in a pasture area). It was all about FT3. I could finally say that I had learned how to use it.
After years I realize that in reality, some things were still wrong, such as the type of call, the intensity of the sound, and the frequency, but that was the first necessary confirmation that the recall worked and that if played well, it had a beautiful power. Strong.
Today, when I am still hunting with my brother, he no longer jokes about the call: if he sees a crow in the distance, he turns towards me, making a whistle, and in a whisper, he says, “call!”. By now, he knows that with the FT3, if we are well hidden, I can get a crow on our head that passes 300 meters away (perhaps even more, the volume of the sound is one of the most surprising characteristics of this call!).
If you meet him, ask him about when crushed in an irrigation channel I pulled a whole herd over our heads. Or that morning in January when we emptied two cartridge cases and 4 Bornaghi boxes that we had in spare in the car.
How to Learn How to Use It
As I mentioned, the FT3 is not the most accessible call for corvids to use. But by following the manufacturer’s suggestions, you can get good results in a few months with a bit of consistency.
The first important thing is to learn how to make the right blank sound (without recall). It must be a deep, vibrating sound coming from the stomach (not the throat). We can compare it to a verse that we all do quite naturally, the “clearing of the throat.” Learn, my advice is to watch the video you find at this link and train yourself to reproduce the right sound in white (for those whCataratasnow English, look at 1:08).
Some also play it by imitating the sound of the “scatarrata,” but it is not the correct way. With this technique, the sound coming from the throat (which, among other things, quickly ends up getting irritated) has a higher intensity than that typical of crows, and for this reason, the call will be less effective.
Once you have learned how to make the right sound, it is essential to learn how to modulate the volume of the call. As already mentioned, the FT3 is designed to deliver sound up to a distance of 500 meters. If you have a crow on 100 meters and use the call aloud, you will scare it. Similarly, if you try to softly call a crow that is 300 meters away, it will not hear your call. Therefore train yourself to modulate the sound, varying the intensity adapting it to the distance.
Finally, if you have learned to manage these aspects and want to become real professionals, study some of the vocabularies of the Corvus genre. Dealing with the topic in depth here would take too long; however, be aware that they have a reasonably wide range of vocalizations (health, danger alarm, and so on) and who they use to communicate based on the situation they find themselves.
I leave you just one piece of advice: do not do the classic “car” that you often hear emitted by crows when you are hunting. That is an alarm call that they emit because they have seen you and warn the companions of potential danger. If you do it in stalking, you are not attracting them, but pushing them away. Limit yourself to only two consecutive “craa.”
What I Didn’t Like
Two things didn’t fully convince me of FT3. The first is the groove in which to house the lanyard. It is shallow; there is a risk of losing it quickly. It happened to me, passing through a fairly dense forest with the call around my neck. Without realizing it, I found myself shortly after with the noose of the cord open and no more FT3.
The second is this: being an exposed reed call, it can jam easily, especially if you keep it in a pocket that is not perfectly clean or dangling around your neck while moving around in dense environments. Just a seed that ends between the reed and the insert and no more extended rings, and since it cannot be dismantled, cleaning it thoroughly is not an immediate operation.
I bought the FT3 directly on the manufacturer’s website for $ 37 (+ € 5 shipping). A price slightly above the other reference products. In Italy, you can find it online on Trophy Hunt (official importer) or in your trusted armory.
To Whom I Recommend It and Who Not
If you are looking for a corvid call to use once or twice a season, on those few occasions that you practice crows stalking because you have no better hunt to do, then the FT3 is not for you. Using it so tiny, you will hardly be able to play it effectively.
If, on the other hand, you want to learn and consistently apply yourself, and you are looking for a lure that can allow you to hunt crows profitably in any situation, with indisputable sound quality and power, then the FT3 is the ideal product for you.