Like decoys, duck game calls have a rich history in the sport and occupation of duck
hunting. And like decoys, the evolution of this hunting tool occurred most notably in the eastern
U.S. and along the Mississippi Flyway of migratory bird patterns.
It’s believed that Native Americans used mouth calling techniques to bring in ducks for
centuries. Manufactured duck calls began appearing in North America during the 1800s. Fred
Allen is credited with crafting the first modern call in 1863, while Elam Fisher is said to have
developed the first patented call in 1870. One of the highest distributed calls in history is the D-2
call made by the Philip S. Olt Company, and the company’s namesake founder is considered the
father of modern call making. More recently, Phil Robertson founded the Duck Commander
Company in 1973, bringing his family’s Duck Commander call to the forefront of popularity in
the duck hunting community.
Early duck calls continue to increase in value, and some sell for thousands of dollars each
depending on condition, rarity, and maker. A few duck calls have even passed the $100,000
mark. In terms of appearance, a call with the original finish is usually more desirable than one
that’s been re-varnished. Also, while a signed call can benefit its value, many were not signed by
their makers after manufacturing.
The practice of baiting ducks to draw more within hunting range was outlawed in
1935, a ruling said to have propelled call making
In April 2012, a John Cochran call sold for $16,675 at a Guyette & Deeter, Inc. auction, the
highest price ever paid for one of his calls
The Callmakers and Collectors Association of America offers various resources for those
interested in game and duck calls, including meetings, festivals, and newsletters