Monday, Feb. 20th 2017

Welcome to Joe’s Cabin Corner

Hello to everyone and a great heart felt welcome! This is what they say is a blog.  I call it a little feel good chat amongst friends, one like we would have at a campfire, bonfire, or even in the comfort of that rustic cabin in our favorite leather chairs, smack dab in front of a roaring warm fire, sipping on brandy or hot apple cider.  Maybe we are talking over the fishing trip we had, swapping hunting stories, talking of old bird dogs or laying plans for tomorrow, perhaps just talking about the great outdoors.  Welcome to Joe’s Cabin Corner!

I live in a world dominated by ducks, duck calls, duck hunting, and everything associated with it!  Everyday is a new adventure for me as I talk to great people from all over the country about all kinds of things. Yet one thing keeps coming up everyday in conversations, duck call collecting!  One of the fastest growing hobbies around and yet it can take years upon years to amass a great collection. As a passion, some collectors have spent a good part of their life searching, acquiring, and building one.  Calls are not inexpensive either, some reaching into the many thousands of dollars, thus sometimes limiting our pursuit of those rarer and unique duck calls if one can even find them available!

Many collections revolve around antique calls, rarer and mostly pricey hunting calls made in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. Names such as Glodo, Beckhart, Herter, Ditto and Perdew often come to mind from this era.  These were market hunting times, days when ducks flew in enormous flocks filling the skies on their spectacular annual migrations.  These were the times market hunters could supply grocers or restaurants with their daily needs of wildfowl for the table.  Duck calls began to give these hunters an edge on the wildfowl, insuring larger bags and so began the glory days of duck call making! Some of these calls today could make a fellow rich if he stumbles on the right one.

 Collectors also focus in on regional areas too that are famous for their history of duck call makers. Distinctive styles began to develop in the early 1900’s. The well known Reelfoot Lake area in Tennessee had considerable call makers as did the Illinois River area in central Illinois.  Arkansas, the now “duck capital of the world” even developed a type or style of call often referred to as; you guessed it, the “Arkansas” style of call!  Louisiana’s rich heritage of waterfowl hunting has not gone unnoticed with numerous call makers from this great state, mostly developing a cane calls for their hunting style!

Probably the most prevalent calls in any collection are from right after the Great Depression and post WWII. In the 1940’s the duck hunting world became more of a refined place. Sport hunting replace the now outlawed market hunting and numerous sportsmen’s hunting clubs were beginning to spring up across the country.  Many new craftsmen were drawn into making duck calls with an increasing demand and a never-ending pursuit for that perfect wild duck sound.  In fact, the call making business took on an almost art form with the pride of the craftsmen showing through in their work.  Names such as Bowles, Dennison, Major, Parson, Stofer, Marsh are all incredible call makers from this era.

The 1950’s through the 1960’s and into the 70’s saw an ever increasing amount of call makers beginning to mass produce hunting calls for the market. Well known names like Olt, Faulk, Mallardtone, Black Duck, Lohman, Harry Dye, Thomas Game Call Company all are contributors to this movement. Call collectors have taken notice here and yet while not being as valuable as many earlier ones, these are still a great addition to any call collection.

Collectors eye the future as we leave the twentieth century and move into the twenty first. The rise of custom call makers is now a dominate force in the market place.  Small companies and individuals hand turn and craft their hunting calls for a one of a kind call or “custom” call.  Acrylic is also a new idea on the market and call makers quickly have adapted, not leaving wood behind but rather as another choice.  Some fine call makers use exquisite woods from exotic places from all over the world, and create some eye stunning results. Acrylic calls are nothing short of the colors of the rainbow, brilliant, beautiful and fancy.  Game call carvers like me are also a small niche in the ever-popular call making world, turning waterfowl calls into impressive grand works of art!  Contemporary calls are the rage of today in the duck call collecting world and highly sought after!

 Today’s collector has a large selection and “one for everyone’s budget” in where to start.  Some collectors collect only old vintage calls where as others only collect contemporary call makers work. Some are simply regional collectors as for example, “Illinois or Arkansas call makers”.  Most collectors seemingly have a smorgasbord of calls, antique, vintage, old, classic, contemporary, carved, painted and even some made of ivory and carved of ivory! Many of these extensive collections show a timeline of waterfowling history. Add in a display case that will show off your collection will make a focal point in any room that exhibits your passion and makes you proud of your accomplishment!

I would encourage any one who loves the sport and heritage of wildfowling to consider joining in on this fun filled and off season hobby.  You will meet some great people and learn the history and facts about different parts of the fantastic waterfowling areas of this country you may have not known about.  Pick up a book on it or go to an outdoor show, you’ll have a blast! A warning though, it is extremely addictive!  Take care everyone and thanks so much for spending your valuable time with me!!…Joe

And P.S….Everyone, if you ever travel through Stuttgart Arkansas, “Duck Capital of the World”, please stop in the “Museum of the Grand Prairie”. It has a wing of the building devoted to the history of waterfowling on the Grand Prairie.  You will see dioramas of hunting scenes, mounted waterfowl, an extensive antique decoy collection, but the best is the enormous duck call collection exhibited in this fine place.  Also, the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce Office has a very large display of Chick Majors vintage calls including possibly the first duck call ever made! Don’t miss it!

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