J.T. Beckhart – Buckspoint, Arkansas
A transplanted Yankee, James Tillman Beckhart lived in a tent for a while before taking up residence on a houseboat in the Big Lake region of northeast Arkansas. This duck-rich area is generally regarded as the cradle of Arkansas duck call making.
Beckhart was a market hunter, boat builder, and guide who was known to open up his modest home to visiting sportsmen—for a fee. His calls were of the Reelfoot style, but he was not content to be ordinary in anything he did.
He made inroads in both design and styling while crafting his calls, becoming known for his extended tone board as well as using monel metal reeds, which had a high silver content.
While written records are unavailable, it is believed that Beckhart made calls from the early 1900s into the 1920s. His first models had four carved tiers and were finely hand-checkered.
Among the nation's call-collecting fraternity, finding a pristine Beckhart duck call would be akin to winning the lottery. Point being, examples of his work are extremely hard to find, and they rank among the most valuable calls in the country.
Glodo Family – Illinois/Tennessee
While the Glodo family name is generally recognized at or near the top of the call-making food chain, it arrives accompanied by a cloak of mystery. Figuring out which member of this far-flung clan made which call and when—if you can find an example of their work—is nearly impossible. Even the experts seldom agree on the provenance.
To begin with, there were many Glodo men: Joseph Victor Glodo Sr. and Jr., John, Albert, Walter, Victor, Joseph E., and Arzia, just for starters. Some were known to have made duck calls, others probably did not. But a hundred years later, who's to say for sure who did what? To further muddy the issue, residences included scattered home sites in both southern Illinois and northwest Tennessee.
It has been determined, however, that Victor Glodo Jr. moved to Tennessee's Reelfoot Lake during the early 1890s. The Glodo name has since become synonymous with Reelfoot Lake-style duck calls. A blacksmith, Glodo used copper reeds, and is also credited with inventing the barrel shape of the classic Reelfoot Lake call. His calls were often checkered with what has become known as the "duck wing" pattern.
Glodo calls are perhaps the rarest of the rare. Call collectors speak in hushed tones whenever there's a hint that a vintage model may be entering the marketplace. This is arguably the most sought-after call in the game.