Most everyone remembers their first duck call. This is the story behind mine….
Handwritten letter from Alvin Taylor where he describes the call and mentions his first chemo treatment. (Read the letter in its entirety at he end of this blog post)
Thanksgiving weekend on Main Street is one of the most anticipated events of the year for me. As a waterfowler, one of your bucket list trips should be to the World Duck Calling Contest held each year in Stuttgart, Arkansas. It’s an amazing event if you like anything waterfowl related. It’s the one time a year, when our industry converges on a single location and it’s all about the ducks. From the contest, gumbo cookoff, and call tents, it’s the experience of a lifetime.
In 1993, when I was 12 years old, as a birthday gift to my dad, my mom paid for us to go to the calling contest. At the time, the current stage hadn’t been built. So the contest was actually held on a portable stage that sat right in the middle of Main Street. The craft and duck call tents sat directly behind the stage in what seemed like a mile long stretch.
I vaguely remember the contest. We had hunted that morning and by the time the 3rd round of the contest started, I was one tired kid. I remember falling asleep on a flat bed trailer that sat to the side and in front of the stage while the contest was still going strong. You know you’re tired when you can sleep through a duck calling contest!
What I do remember is standing in front of Alvin Taylor (Taylor Made Calls) and his booth, looking at an array of hand crafted duck calls. I was too young to grasp the fact that I was speaking with someone whose calls would be so highly regarded and sought after in the duck calling world.
Handwritten letter from Alvin Taylor.
Dad and I both blew a few of the calls and to my amazement, he purchased a cedar call for me. I had just become the proud owner of my first real hand made duck call. I hunted that call for years. I remember using it in my early 20’s oblivious to its monetary value since Mr. Taylor had passed away. Of course, that call is invaluable to me for obvious reasons and I look forward to the day I can tell my son this story and pass it on to him.
Fast forward about 20 years to our current technological, social media era. I had been collecting calls for a couple of years at that point and had become enthralled with old handmade calls. Because my first call was a Taylor Made, I had an affection for his calls, in particular his aluminum calls. To my knowledge, he made 6 of these, maybe 7 and it was a long shot that I would ever have the opportunity to own one. It was like trying to find a needle in a hay stack, however, I found that needle!
While scrolling through Facebook one day, I ran across a post that included the #3 Aluminum Taylor Made for sale. I immediately messaged the owner inquiring about the call but someone had beaten me to the punch. I was second in line, and would only be able to purchase it if the first person turned it down.
As luck would have it, the seller contacted me letting me know that the first person decide against buying it and I now had the opportunity to purchase it. I immediately accepted and started the process of selling whatever I could to pay for it. I sold a large part of my collection to help fund the purchase but knew that it was well worth it. It would be the centerpiece of my collection.
No. 3 Aluminum Taylor Made
The aluminum Taylor Made was meant to be. The seller was from the Midwest and worked in New Orleans meaning he drove thru Mississippi to get to work. We were able to meet about 15 minutes from my house to make the swap.
I treasure both of these calls and am happy to show them to folks that visit the shop. If you’re ever in the Raymond area, please stop by and have a look around.
Handwritten letter from Alvin Taylor to one of his customers.