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The Legend: How Brossie Dantone Got Started Making Mouth Calls and the Brossie® System
Brossie Dantone was given a box call to start with like many other hunters. He said that he called up many turkeys with a box call. He learned that while using box calls, turkeys would see his hand movement and would run away. Just the simple movement of working a box call was something that turkeys, with their keen eyesight, would pick off. Brossie recounted that "I ran into someone who asked me if I had ever seen a single reed turkey [mouth] call." Brossie said, "I put it in my mouth, blew on it and it sounded pretty good." Brossie looked to improve his ability to take gobblers and started using a mouth call.
Later on, Brossie met John Garman who showed him a double reed turkey call he had picked up. Garman asked Brossie what he thought about the call; Brossie liked the stacked double frame because the reeds would not stick together as easily as other calls when it was hot. Brossie stated that "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 most famous for today. Brossie's creation of the "Original Triple" (as it would become known) was a better design that sounded raspier, fit more comfortably in your mouth, and was easier to blow because it required less air. The triple reed calls, as Brossie recalled, 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 when calling. Brossie's number one tip in terms of killing turkeys is to "be still." Each of his handmade diaphragm mouth calls culminate from this primary principle of reducing movement.
Brossie developed many other tools to trick long beards. He created unique ground blinds that would hide him, and often his guests, from approaching birds. The blinds were made for quick deployment and were light so they were easy to carry. In the early spring, his blind is a must have when the woods have not "greened" up and there is little foliage to hide hunters. From the "be still" principle, the blind would help mask movement allowing the use of calls or the raising of a gun. The blind’s quick set up greatly improves a "run and gun" approach to turkey hunting as well as static blind set ups late in the morning or afternoon. Brossie loved using the blind for hunting with kids…in his words, it allowed kids to "get that four hundred and ten up on the gobbler before I would say to them quit waving it around."
Brossie never really liked using the traditional "Turkey Vest" because he described it as too hot and required too much movement when reaching all around to the scattered pockets trying to locate a call. He would employ his WWII bag where he could access all of his tricks from ground level and not have the weight of a cumbersome vest. Most importantly, the bag and blind, together, helped conceal movement and helped you "be still".
The last part of his Brossie® “system” was to be comfortable while sitting. Brossie explained that you will move less if you are comfortable. He had many different seat designs that would allow you to wait out a long beard and obtain greater enjoyment from the day’s 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 103rd Infantry Division, the Bronze Star Medal was awarded to then 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 actions "reflected the highest traditions of military service".
Brossie's account, in some respects, was the same except that he was somewhat modest and more colorful. He would tell you that he was "bragging" when he told the story of taking the town in some ways to be more modest about his extraordinary feat. Brossie also said he was a hero when he 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 Purple Heart Medal 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 recounted. In high school football, Brossie was accounted for being a great football player and the "toughest opponent he ever faced" by the famous Ole Miss player "Charlie Connelly". 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 Kossman's Buick-Cadillac dealership. "Making turkey calls became a sideline," he said. Brossie 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 was often referred to by his close friends and hunting buddies, also carried the nick names "the Call" and "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 was a Crappie fishing master. He introduced many people to the art of catching Crappie on a jig. He is also known as "the Pole" amongst his fishing buddies. He has a technique for catching Crappie that he refers to as the "Dantone Twitch" that made Crappie "come on." Brossie was also an acclaimed “scratch” golfer. He said that he could throw a 72 from time to time and that he never shot over 85. In other pursuits, he was known to some as the Fred Astaire of the Mississippi Delta, and grew exceptional tomatoes in his garden.
Brossie resided in Marks, MS, up until his death in November 2013. He still made calls up to a several years before he died, and always maintained that "these calls kill turkeys". Generations of his customers, friends, and their children will dearly miss the legendary call maker and his endearing character.
My brother, Hughes Lowrance, my cousin, Charlie Lowrance, myself (Collie Lowrance) and other friends (Peyton Self, Bobby Carson, Mike Mills, Lowell Chrisco and others) kept in touch with Brossie in his later years, whether through turkey hunting, Crappie fishing or just visiting. I think all of us made the effort to be with Brossie out of love and respect for Brossie and that fact that he was quite the character to be around…not matter where you were or what you were doing. As my brother Hughes once pointed out, there was often something we learned from Brossie that we didn’t know. I know we all had a good time just being around him, having fun and hearing his stories.
While my brother Hughes and I had discussions separately with Brossie about his call business, it ultimately culminated with us forming Brossie LLC to start making stacked frame diaphragm turkey calls, hunting bags, hunting blinds and other turkey hunting gear. In the process of working with Brossie to get things going, we also documented our time with Brossie as well as interviews with Brossie and some of his friends reminiscing about their past experiences in the Delta. This videography of Brossie is available for you to view. We had a lot of fun with Brossie making his mouth calls and doing a crappie/fish fry trip with some of his friends in attendance back in 2011 and we thank all of those who have supported of our effort to keep the legend of Brossie alive and the tradition of making his mouth calls and using them to hunt; as Brossie use to say, “these calls kill turkeys”.