The Legend: How Brossie Got Started and the Brossie™ System
Brossie was given a box call to start with like many other hunters. He accounts that he called up many turkeys with a box call. He strategically noted that while using the box calls that the turkeys would see his hand movement and would run away. Just the simple movement of working a box was something that the turkeys with their keen eyesight would pick off. Brossie recounts; "I ran into some who asked me if I had ever seen a single reed turkey call," Brossie said, "I put it in my mouth, blew on it and it sounded pretty good." Brossie looked to improve his strategy on gobblers by moving to a mouth call.
Later on, Brossie met John Garman who showed him a double reed turkey call. "He said he picked it up somewhere and wanted to know what I thought," Brossie liked the stacked double frame because it would not stick together as easily as other calls when it was hot. "You do not have a lot of time to entice the gobbler to come to you, so when you give a call you do not want your equipment to be stuck together." Brossie continued to refine this design by individually bending each frame prior to putting the call together creating a more custom fit for each hunter's pallet. Later, Brossie decided to stack another reed on the double frame which became the triple reed that he is the most famous for today. Brossie's creation of the "Original Triple" as it would be called was a better design that sounded raspier, fit more comfortably in your mouth, and was easier to blow requiring less air. The triple as Brossie accounts is "where he stopped because it does not get any better." He speaks about the mouth call as being the "best" because you do not have to move. Brossie's number one tip in terms of killing turkeys is to "be still." Each of his handmade diaphragm mouth calls culminate from this one principle.
Brossie developed many other tools to trick long beards. He created unique ground blinds that would hide him and his guests from approaching birds. The blinds were created for quick deployment and were made light for easier carrying. In the early spring, his blind is a must have when the woods have not "greened" up and there is little to hide the hunter. From the "hold still" principle, the blind would mask movement allowing the use of calls or the raising of a gun. The blind is key for a "run and gun" approach to hunting or quick blind set ups late in the morning or afternoon. Brossie loved the blind for hunting with kids so "that they could get that four hundred and ten up on the gobbler before he would say to them quit waving it around."
Brossie never really liked using the traditional "Turkey Vest" because he described it as to hot and required to much movement when reaching all around to the scattered pockets trying to locate your desired call. He would employ his WWII bag/satchel where he could access all of his tricks from ground level and not have the weight of a hot vest. Most importantly, the satchel and blind concealed movement driving home the philosophy of "be still".
The last part of his System was to be comfortable while sitting. Brossie explains that you will move less if you are comfortable. He has many different seat designs that would allow you to wait out a long beard and obtain greater enjoyment from the days hunt. Remember he always said; "be still".
World War II Hero: Awarded Bronze Star and the Purple Heart
Under the official Army report from the Commanding General of the 103D Infantry Division, the Award of the Bronze Star of Medal was given to Sergeant Brossie A. Dantone (Dog Tag: 34632111) of Infantry Company "K" of the 411 Infantry Regiment for heroic achievement in action. On April 24, 1945, Brossie's Platoon led an attack on Hanau, Germany and was subjected to hostile fire from a cliff. Brossie volunteered to reconnoiter a route to approach the town and spot the fire. Sergeant Dantone used a ditch that only gave him partial cover to spot the fire. Brossie returned and directed mortar fire on the machine gun bunker. Brossie then led his men back up the ditch that he had used to successfully take the town. Sergeant Brossie A. Dantone's action "reflected the highest traditions of military service".
Brossie's account, in some respects, is the same except he is somewhat modest and more colorful. He will tell you that he is "bragging" when he tells the story of taking the town in some ways to be more modest about his extraordinary feat. Brossie will also tell you that he is a hero that knocked out the machine gun nest, but that he was a "scared hero". Brossie was wounded in the hand and the leg. He received the Award of the Purple Heart for being wounded in battle. Brossie credits a nurse for saving his hand. We should all be thankful to this nurse because Brossie may never have been able to invent the "Original Triple" if it were not for her efforts in saving his right hand.
Brossie and his Family History
Brossie's Father, two Aunts, and his Grandmother emigrated from Italy to the United States in the early 1900's to settle in Greenwood, MS. The name Dantone derives from the formal Italian name D' Antoni. Many Italians came to the Mississippi Delta region during this period of time to work the fertile soils of the Delta. Brossie was born to Mary Carero and Joseph D'Antoni in Greenwood, MS on September 14, 1918 during WWI.
He lived through the depression and the Great Flood of 1927. "Those was hard times" Brossie recounts. He entered service in WWII and later moved to Clarksdale, MS. Brossie called himself a natural born salesman – his career bears that out. He worked for M.E. Carter Produce out of Memphis for as long as 15 years," he said. "I called on retail stores throughout the Delta from Clarksdale to Greenville, back to Ruleville and Tutwiler." Brossie also operated a packaging store for several years. "That was after liquor was legal," he grinned.
He later sold automobiles for Billy Walton Ford for about 10-years and for Chester Cossman's Buick Cadillac dealer. "Making turkey calls became a sideline," he said. Dantone said after he retired from retail sales he focused all his energies on making turkey calls. "The first order I got was for five or six dozen from Bronson Sporting Goods in Memphis," Dantone said. His business, which was strictly by word of mouth, grew phenomenally.
Brossie not only made calls, but was considered a "caller" in the area. A "caller" back then was someone who was an expert at calling in turkeys. "Bross" as he is referred to by his close friends and hunting buddies also carried the nick name the "the call" and the "the mouth" for his expertise with a mouth call. Brossie would be in high demand not only for the calls that he made, but because of his success in calling in turkeys for his friends, acquaintances, children, and customers. He particularly enjoyed hunting with children to watch their reaction when a big gobbler would come to his call. Brossie was once paid $5,000 to fly to Texas to call up turkeys for a gentleman that was having difficulty finishing his "grand slam".
Besides being a Turkey expert, Brossie is a Crappie fishing master. He introduced many people to the art of catching Crappie on a jig. He is known as "the Pole" amongst his hunting and fishing buddies. He has a technique for catching Crappie that he refers to as the "Dantone Twitch" that makes them "come on." Brossie was accounted for being a great football player and the "toughest opponent he ever faced" by the famous Ole Miss player "Charlie Connelly". Brossie is also acclaimed as a scratch golfer. He said that he could throw you a 72 from time to time and that he never shot over 85. He was known to some as the Fred Astaire of the Delta. In addition, he grows exceptional tomatoes in his garden.
Brossie now resides in Marks, MS and still makes calls at 92. He says he is a "little slower", but maintains that "these calls kill turkeys". You can find him in his garden or on the porch on most pretty days. Generations of his customers, friends, and their children will drop by regularly to visit and or meet the legendary call maker and character.
I (Hughes Lowrance) have made yearly Crappie fishing trips with Brossie over the last 12 years (his heart, the weather and the river permitting). Many people have asked or wondered why? One is out of respect for Brossie and my father's relationship, two is because he is quite the character to fish with, three is I always learn something I did not know, and finally because he took me turkey hunting as a kid. In addition, Brossie at 92 has outlived most of his fishing buddies. He always has his poles rigged and is waiting on me when I pick him up. Brossie also brings his calls "for sale" to the camp and teaches us his techniques on calling turkeys.
Last spring he was put in the hospital and was unable to make the trip, but we visited on the phone. He said "I be well soon and that we could go later in the spring or early summer before it became too hot." I asked him who was taking care of his call business while he was in the hospital and he said "no one." I know some people may think this is inappropriate to ask, but I asked Brossie if anybody was going to carry on his call making business. He said "no." I asked about his sons and he said they were retired and past 65. I asked him if he would entertain an offer and he said "sure, and I cannot think of anyone I would rather have it." I promptly asked a friend of mine, Andy Barrs a now true believer in the "Brossie System", who I had given one of Brossie's calls to if he would be interested in the idea and he replied without hesitation that he was all in. Another friend of mine, Critter Broadnax an avid turkey enthusiast, also expressed interest as well as my brother Collie Lowrance. We formed Brossie, LLC doing business as "Brossie's Legendary Turkey Callers" and signed a purchase agreement with Brossie in July of 2010. Since that time, we have spent quality time with Brossie learning his trade secrets from over 60 years of making his legendary stacked calls making sure that we maintained the raspy tones his calls are legendary for. We also documented our time with Brossie as well as interviews with Brossie and his friends reminiscing about their past experiences in the delta. This videography of Brossie is available for you to view. We have had a lot of fun with Brossie making the calls and doing a crappie/fish fry trip with many for his friends in attendance and for support of our effort to keep the tradition of Brossie and his callers alive. Further, we insisted that we would support Brossie continuing to make calls himself as long as he was able. Brossie can still be visited in Marks, MS.