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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

Chick Major – Stuttgart, Arkansas

There was a day when Chick Major duck calls were easily the runaway leaders when it came to tallying duck-calling competition championships. The rough estimate is that Major calls were used to win well over 200 calling titles—including more than 20 by members of the Major family.

Darce Manning "Chick" Major, a dedicated waterfowl hunter, began building calls during the 1930s in a small workshop in Stuttgart. His call-making career, however, did not really take off until he won the World Duck Calling Championship in 1945. That was just the beginning.

Thereafter, his wife Sophie (1950 and 1964), and stepdaughters Brenda Peacock (1957 and 1958), Dixie (Major) Holt (1965, 1969 and 1971), and Pat Peacock (1951-'55) all won multiple women's division World Duck Calling Championships. Pat is also recognized as the only woman in history to win the men's division not only once, but twice, in 1955 and 1956, and also reigned in the 1960 men's Champion of Champions competition.

Major was a key player in the development of Arkansas-style calls. His cornerstone call was known as the Dixie Mallard, and it is believed that he also made the first hand-turned acrylic duck call during the early 1970s.

Tom Turpin – Memphis, Tennessee

Tom Turpin, the great experimenter, crafted turkey calls before he got into the duck call game sometime in the 1920s. In the end, however, he was credited with making a significant impact on the development of Reelfoot-style duck calls.

Turpin, it has been reported, spent hours in the field and in the marsh listening to birds and studying their habits. He took his knowledge back to the shop adjoining his home and designed calls meant to reproduce the sounds he witnessed in the wild.

Known for building calls much longer than the norm, Turpin also modified the taper and elevation of their tone channels. He developed both a call-making boring bar and the first hand-operated machine made to taper metal reeds. Wood from South America was a personal favorite.

An extraordinary caller in the field, Turpin also served as an educator of sorts. He wrote numerous calling articles for national outdoor sporting magazines and was involved with producing instructional records.

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