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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

F.A. Allen – Monmouth, Illinois

Recognized as a true call-making pioneer, Fred Allen was way ahead of the curve. He is acknowledged as one of the primary inventors of the modern duck call.

Allen undoubtedly was among the first to sell calls commercially. Advertisements for his product have been traced to 1880, although, later on, his ads proclaimed that his calls had been "available since 1863."

Recognizing problems associated with early tongue-pincher-style calls, Allen went to work on remedies. He devised the concept of a barrel for his calls, and inside used a straight tone board and a curved reed.

Allen is credited with creating the first all-metal duck call, which he named the Allen Nickel-Plated Duck Caller. The calls were popular, but some historians insist that Allen's switching to a wooden barrel a decade later was out of necessity—too many hunters' lips were freezing to the metal mouthpiece.

Charles Ditto – Keithsburg, Illinois

In addition to being a farmer, game warden, market hunter, waterfowl guide, and champion trap shooter, Charles Ditto was also an entrepreneur. He was granted a number of patents for waterfowl decoy devices, and later went into the game-call-making business.

Ditto's calls resembled those made by his friend, F.A. Allen. Perhaps the most famous of Ditto's calls were the Eureka models, which were produced from around the turn of the century until the mid-1920s.

Many of these early calls were constructed of two pieces and featured a hard rubber insert and brass reed. Ditto later sold five other types of calls, many of which he helped put together, until a shooting accident resulted in the loss of one hand.

The rarest of the Ditto calls is a unique all-metal combination duck and goose call. He is also credited with making hard rubber calls.

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