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Etched into call-making history

September 21, 2008 at 01:04 AM


Illinois waterfowl call makers

  • B&B Elite Outfitters Goose Calls Doug and Andrew Boston, Auburn (217) 414-1380
  • Creek Side Calls Michael McPherson, Morris (815) 546-3009 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • DJ Illinois River Valley Calls Dave Jackson, Pekin (866) 352-2557
  • Double G Game Calls Gary Grob, Waterloo (618) 939-2962
  • Foiles Migrators Jeff Foiles, Pittsfield (866) 834-3373
  • Fowl Language Duck Calls Steve Elmore, Oswego (630) 554-9147
  • Garret/Morgan Goose and Duck Calls Michael Dixon, Monticello (217) 762-9304
  • Hayes Custom Calls Bob Hayes, Havana (309) 543-6508
  • Jim Ludwig Calls Decatur
  • Joe Carey Calls Joe Carey, Grafton (618) 786-2182
  • Kam Calls Ken Kammerer, Sparland (309) 471-4096
  • LetEm Work Custom Calls Brian Meredith, Jerseyville (618) 946-4263
  • Masterson Calls Greg Masterson, Olive Branch
  • Mick Lacy Game Calls Mick Lacy, Princeville (800) 681-1070
  • My Buddy’s Calls Mike Bergevin, Mapleton
  • Quackcalls Jim Dester, Sycamore (815) 761-4841
  • Quackassassin Calls Herbert Ohley, Alton (618) 465-5235
  • River Bottom Calls Doug Jallas, Chandlerville (309) 546-2302
  • Dan Rodgers Custom Calls Dan Rodgers, Carbon Hill (815) 634-3630
  • Schultz Game Calls Tim Schultz, Bismarck (217) 759-8124
  • Skipper Calls Skip Campbell, Murphysboro
  • Tim Grounds Championship Calls Tim Grounds, Johnston City (618) 983-5649
  • Tiny’s Custom Calls Doug Gerlach, Willisville (618) 497-2779
  • Trader Outdoors Tim Trader, Sterling (815) 626-8874
  • Victoria Honker Jack Burns, Coal Valley (309) 799-9844
  • WGC Calls Jim Ward, Topeka (309) 968-6512
  • Winglock Calls Rick Perry, Chillicothe (309) 274-2253

Doug Jallas has spent his life hunting waterfowl in the Illinois River Valley.

He’s been a pusher, a picker, a caretaker and a hunter all his life.

Given his love of all things duck, it only makes sense that Jallas would eventually make his own duck and goose calls. For the past four years Jallas has been working to perfect his
River Bottom Calls, which he sells across Illinois and makes in the workshop of his home outside Chandlerville.

In so doing, Jallas joins an Illinois call-making tradition that dates back more than 100 years. Fred Allen of Monmouth is typically credited with constructing the first modern duck call and claims he made calls as early as 1863. According to Robert Christensen’s book “Duck Calls of Illinois,” the first physical proof of Allen’s calls comes in the form of an 1880 advertisement.

From there, Illinois’ influence on waterfowl call-making only increased. In fact, “Illinois is the history of duck call making,” writes Brian McGrath in his 1988 book “Duck Calls and Other Game Calls.”

Illinois is just as prominent in the history of goose-call making, dating back to 1885 when David Fuller of Chicago received the first patent for a goose call. Illinois has continued to remain at the forefront in goose call innovations. Prime examples include Ken Martin’s Horseshoe Lake calls of the 1950s, P.S. Olt’s A-50 goose flute and more recent models that dominate the market and are sold by Tim Grounds of Johnston City and Jeff Foiles of Pittsfield.

Grounds and Foiles are the best known members of what is still a strong and growing group of modern Illinois callmakers. According to the Web site, Foiles’ calls have accounted for the third-most wins in waterfowl contests behind only No. 1 Rich-N-Tone Duck Calls and No. 2 Echo Championship Calls. Grounds ranks fourth on the same list.

Beyond the big two are three other callmakers who sell their product nationally and internationally: Mick Lacy Game Calls of Princeville, Dave Jackson’s D.J. Illinois River Valley Calls of South Pekin and Rick Perry’s Winglock Calls in Chillicothe.

Beyond those five major makers are another two dozen smaller callmakers currently operating in the Prairie State.

That’s a marked change from as recently as 20 years ago, according to Perry.

“It used to be a lot of us callmakers would just exchange parts between ourselves and there weren’t that many callmakers,” Perry said. “It was a small, tight-knit group. Now it has
exploded and anybody on any street corner can make a duck call.

“All they have to do is turn a barrel and pop a plastic insert in it and they’ve got a duck call. It’s just that easy.”

Part of the reason for the explosion in the number of people making calls is the Internet, and the ease with which parts can now be found. Perry has even started selling parts on his Web site (

“If everybody is going to buy parts, I might as well get a nickel off it and have them buy parts from me too,” he said.

Given the glut of callmakers, Jallas said it’s important to find some way to stand out from the crowd. For Jallas, that niche is custom laser engraving.

“My business is really based on personalizing calls,” Jallas said. “It makes a difference as far as a guy just getting a call or a guy getting something he’s never seen before. You’ve got to do something eye-catching now.”

That’s why River Bottom calls feature engravings of ducks, geese, names and whatever else you might reasonably request as part of its standard price.

Engraved duck calls sell for $60 and engraved goose calls cost $100. There’s a $10 discount for hunters who visit Jallas at his shop, located just east of the Sanganois State Fish and Waterfowl Area that he manages.

“We get a lot of guys who want us to engrave a picture of their dog on a call and we’ll do that,” Jallas said. “That way, even after he’s gone a guy can still keep hunting with his dog.”

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Please add Darren Casey of Casey’s Calls to the list of call makers.  He is a call maker in Granville and is making some good calls.  CNC turned, laser engraved, wood, acrylic, etc..Email me for his contact information if you would like.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/22 at 01:02 PM

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