Call of the wild: UC man combines love of waterfowl hunting, hobby
Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 1:49 pm
By: Brent Callicott
How many of you are collectors?
Almost all of us are some sort of collectors in one way or another of some “things.”
Hobbies sometimes allow you do to so and one local man turned his passion for waterfowl hunting into collecting.
I’m talking about Randle Flowers of Union City. A man who has spent many days enjoying the outdoors hunting and fishing. His hobby is collecting game calls — mainly duck calls.
I was at Randle’s home back a few months ago on a fishing matter and he kindly showed me his pride and joy — a waterfowl game call collection. I asked him then if I could come back, sit down and learn more about a hobby not many take on.
I spent a little time with Randle last week learning about his love for waterfowl call collecting. I will say, the man knows what he is talking about and has the proof to show for it. He sure knows his duck calls.
Randle’s wife, Judy, has allowed him to set up camp in the oversized great room, which is known as “Randle’s Room.” They also have two Black Labrador Retrievers — 13-year-old Buddie and 7-year-old BJ. They have heard their share of these calls being blown from time to time I’m sure. These Labs can even count… yes, count! Amazing!
Randle first told me that he had been hunting waterfowl (ducks/geese) for about 43 years. He learned to hunt ducks in the Hale Swamp outside of Trenton where he killed his first duck in 1970. Then, as time moved on, Randle started hunting other places and has since settled on Reelfoot Lake.
I first started out asking Randle how and when he began his passion for collecting calls. “I’ve been collecting calls for 10 to 12 years,” he said.
He went on to say he started out using the Oles Duck call, one that many used to use back many years ago, a call that is black in color and kind of small. For a person who has only been collecting calls that little of time, he sure has a very nice collection.
He then started to collect and use the Scoby, Deneson and Johnny Marsh duck calls and then with the Cochran calls, which all were and are very well known in the Reelfoot Lake area.
I then asked Randle, how many calls does he have in his collection. “I have over 700 calls right now and counting,” he said. Wow! Can you imagine a room with over 700 games calls ready for someone to just pick up and start to blow? He even has an orange and white duck call.
Randle has some calls he may not want you to touch — many of which have great value.
His collection is mainly of the duck side of things but does have 25 or so crow calls and seven or so goose calls.
I asked Randle to compare his collection to others on a more local and regional level. “I would say that Russell Caldwell would most likely have one of the largest collections around these parts,”, Flowers explained.
Caldwell also has a book out that is Reelfoot Lake History-Duck Call Makers-Hunting Tales.
“Most of your collectors may have 100 to 300 calls in their collection and, the type calls you may target to collect will determine the value and how far you would want to go as for spending the money to build your assortment of calls,” he said. “Another would be Ray Carroll who collects more of the more rare type calls.
“Most of my calls that I have are the metal reed calls, ones that are widely used on Reelfoot Lake.”
These type metal reed calls have a louder volume and is needed on a body of water like Reelfoot Lake where blinds and competition is very close by.
I asked Randle if someone would be interested in getting into the game call collecting, how may they go about that these days.
“The Internet is a good resource, E-bay, collectors shows, magazines and become a member of the call makers association,” Flowers explained.
He and many other game call collectors are members of the Callmakers & Collectors Association of America. This is also a good tool to become associated with learning from the best. You can visit their website at www.ccaacalls.org . Randle is a member and a judge for call maker contest for all over the country. He is also a member of the Reelfoot Lake Callmaker Association.
“A must is to own a copy of the ‘Duck Calls…An Enduring American Folk Art’ book by Howard L. Harlan and W. Crew Anderson,” he said. “This book has just about everything you would want to know about the past history of the older generation of calls.”
Each year, there are around three to four call association collectors shows across the United States — one of which is right here in our back yard down at Reelfoot Lake. The Reelfoot Lake Callmakers & Collectors host a annual collectors show in the fall. This year it will be Saturday and Sunday.
When I asked Randle about purchasing calls for a collection he said, “Internet and call collectors shows are a good place I start,” He also indicated to me that yard sales usually will show up some sort of valuable treasure.
I did ask Randle about his collection and any particular call that is of great value and his answer was, “Your collection or certain call is only worth what another person will give for it.”
He went on to explain that the more a call was made in mass production, the value wasn’t as good, and those with fewer in numbers of a built call are more rare and may just have better value.
He also will purchase a call from a new company or a new style that may come out just because you never know when that call will make it for the big time or the company may not be in business long, which will allow for limited numbers at limited times. This helps in the value of the call.
“You can still start your collection, get your hands on some of the older calls that were mass produced from many years ago and mix in the newer style calls making for a good collection,” Flower explained.
If anyone is interested in game call collecting or has a question, you can reach Randle by going to his Facebook page or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also see and visit with Randle at the Reelfoot Call Makers Show this weekend.
Randle, thank you for sharing your love and passion in your waterfowl game call collection with us. Oh, and Mrs. Judy, those pork chops sure did smell really good as I left that day. I know “Buddie” and “B J” were ready for dinner after the cooking started.
Published in The Messenger 10.16.10