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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Legends of the Call

They were developers, innovators, experimenters and, above all, waterfowl hunters seeking to create the most efficient tools possible.
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Story at a Glance
  • Learn how the biggest call makers got their start
  • The history of duck call making
  • A treasure trove of duck-calling literature

Charles Perdew – Henry, Illinois

Renowned decoy carver Charles Perdew was also an accomplished call maker. Ask a collector which Illinois call maker's work they cherish the most and the majority would not be able to holler "Perdew" quickly enough. That says plenty about Perdew's contributions to the craft.

Perdew's calls have been traced to the 1890s, his earliest models made of cedar and featuring two or three metal bands. Throughout his career, Perdew retained four elements in his call making: All had bands, classic Illinois River mouthpieces, Glodo-style stoppers, and German nickel/silver reeds.

A pioneer, Perdew produced many call variations. He produced four-panel, checkered walnut calls, carved customers' names or initials on their calls, spruced up the barrels by carving ducks on them, and utilized colored plastic mouthpieces on some designs. He also went so far as to carve a "crown" stopper on some models. Perdew was indeed an artist, a truly incredible talent. After Perdew's death in 1963, his son, Haddon, carried on the family call-making tradition for years.

Tracking duck call development

No one will ever be able to determine who made the first duck call. But, researchers and duck call historians have pinned down a number of milestone dates. Some of these include:

  • 1870—Elam Fisher is issued first duck call patent, on a tongue-pincher-style call
  • 1880—Fred Allen duck call advertisement reaches print
  • 1885—David Fuller awarded goose call patent
  • 1889—Charles Grubbs duck call first advertised in magazine
  • 1905—Phillip S. Olt receives patent for adjustable-tone duck call
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