• Kenneth Kieser: A long tradition of quality duck calls from Faulk's

  • Hunting guides occasionally get strange requests. Paul Grindol, a guide for the Hackberry's Rod and Gun Club in Hackberry, La., gave me an odd look when I requested we use only Faulk's Wooden Duck Calls on our hunt.

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  • Hunting guides occasionally get strange requests. Paul Grindol, a guide for the Hackberry's Rod and Gun Club in Hackberry, La., gave me an odd look when I requested we use only Faulk's Wooden Duck Calls on our hunt.
    To my surprise, he not only agreed to exclusive use of this old-fashion wooden call, but had one on his lanyard with several modern day acrylic versions.
    We were hunting flooded marshes located a few miles from Louisiana's Gulf region where shrimp and crab crews catch shelled delicacies. Many fish this region for so-called “Cajun Slams” that include redfish, flounders and speckled trout while never realizing that great duck hunting is a few miles inland in brackish water.
    During the drive our headlights illuminated “Alligator Crossing” signs. I decided to keep my hands inside the boat just in case. Soon Grindol's eager chocolate Lab, Sage, bounded into the jon boat. I piled in behind her with camera equipment and soon we were slipping through a dark channel of muddy water and standing grass. A strong spotlight illuminated reflectors off plastic poles driven in the ancient mud. The boat motor's propeller was attached to a long pole that extended at a wide angle to push us through extremely shallow water.
    We finally reached the grass-covered blind. Grindol shined a flashlight across the floor and seats at my request to make sure were did not have crawling company. Most cottonmouths and other notable marsh dwellers hibernate in November, but there was plenty of reason to be cautious. He waded out to set up a couple of spinning wing decoys for movement in the middle of a couple hundred mallard, teal and pintail decoys.
    A beautiful sunrise soon illuminated the decoys and grass strips that matched our blind's cover. I scanned the skies but was quickly informed that most ducks in this region slept late. The notable exception was a scaup that happened by shortly after legal shooting time and was unfortunate to be our first duck of the day. A few simple quacks with a light feeder chuckle on the Faulk's Call brought him in without hesitation, not really a good test. That duck was determined to land in our decoys.
    The morning progressed and the ducks indeed slept late as I thought about Paul Dudley “Dud” Faulk hunting around this area with his wooden calls, which he started making more than 60 years ago. I could imagine him field testing the first Faulk prototypes on ancestors of the ducks we were hunting and how he felt when the calls proved to be successful and eventually become duck hunting lore, especially in Louisiana. Grindol broke the silence as if he knew my thoughts.
    “Using this type of call is a tradition around here and a very effective late-season call,” Grindol said. “Newer calls are often too loud for late season ducks who have heard every kind of calling imaginable by the time they get here. Wooden calls are lower in volume than the composite type calls that most hunters use these days and deliver a slightly different sound. The newer calls echo and freeze up. These wooden versions don't. We still use these wooden calls here during late season, especially on mallards.”
    Page 2 of 3 - I made a couple of quacks on my Faulk's call and immediately understood Grindol's point. A great deal of air was required to equal a modern day composite style call's volume, especially with a double reed. The Faulk's call sounded best with less volume, producing a clean sound. I was ready to test my wooden call on live ducks.
    The morning hunt progressed, bringing several flocks of Louisiana gray ducks, a species know in most places as gadwalls. Normally gray ducks respond best to a lower pitched series of quacks, almost impossible to duplicate with a higher pitched single-reed Faulk's. But they responded well to crisp sounding mallard quacks and feeder chuckles that day.
    The first flock made three passes around the blind before settling in to land while we talked them in with steady rhythmic duck sounds. Most of the ducks soon pumped their wings for safety after several well-placed shots left three floating in the decoys. Sage dove into the chilly water and started making perfect retrieves, once pausing to bring two ducks in at once.
    “The only problem with working a good dog in these waters earlier in the season is alligators,” Grindol said while watching Sage work. “An alligator will eat your dog.”
    We quickly limited out on a variety of ducks including teal, pintails, widgeon, scaup and grays. The Faulk's Calls had done the job on gadwalls, while teal and pintails responded to light quacks and whistles.
    FAULK’S DUCK CALLS: Faulk's Game Call Company turned 61 years old in 2012. Dudley Faulk's father, Clarence “Patin” Faulk, who made calls out of bamboo in the 1930s, could not have dreamed teaching his son to assemble calls and trim reeds would result in a business that would carry his name around the world.
    “Faulk's Game Calls grew significantly in 1962 when Dud won the International Duck Calling Championships at the Rice Festival in Crowley, La., using his wooden calls,” Rena said. “He repeated winning this title in 1963 and promptly retired from competition. Several callers have won this competition since using Faulk's calls. Dud, too, won the World Goose in 1954 in Missouri Valley, Iowa, promoting our line of goose calls.”
    Dudley ran the shop until his death on Sept. 7, 1994. Many in the hunting world were saddened by this legend's passing. Rena has continued to keep the books and did all office work throughout the company's life span.
    I toured the Faulk's Duck Call Company to find that each call is still handmade and tested like the version I found under my grandparents’ Christmas tree in 1965, my first duck call. Calls with inferior sounds are trashed.
    “Most of our calls are made of walnut,” Rena said. “Zebra wood is brought in from Africa for nicer calls with the same tuned inserts like the walnut versions. We still make bamboo calls too, made from bamboo we grow and dry.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Rena and her daughters are the only stock holders of Faulk's Game Call Company. There is no debt and the company will never be for sale.
    “I will never sell this company because it gives me someplace to go every day and something to do,” Rena said. “Not for sale at any price.”
    Kenneth Kieser is an outdoors writer. His column appears weekly in The Examiner. Reach him at kkieser@comcast.net

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