Caller In A Day

This is a short story for duck hunters wanting to improve their ability to call ducks.

I have been duck hunting in Arkansas for over 30 years. Most of my hunting has been in the flooded timber of the Cache River. I live in southeast Georgia, St. Simons Island, on the coast so I am able to get to Arkansas maybe 3 times each year.

My introduction into flooded timber hunting was done in the 70’s by my ole hunting buddy, Joe Wood from Memphis. Joe and I have hunted hundreds of times over the years and killed lots of ducks.

Of all the times we have hunted in Arkansas, I have never thought about learning to call ducks because Joe was always there to call and was an excellent caller.

Last year Joe called before hunting season and told me he was going to buy a new Snazz duck call and give it to me. I said send it on. I had no intention of trying to learn to use it because Joe would still be able to call my ducks.

I typically wait to go to Arkansas after Joe calls and tells me the timber is flooded and the ducks are there. When Joe called last year and said come on, I went and took along my new duck call.

When I got to the Augusta Arkansas International airport (strip) Joe met me and said, "I want you to meet somebody before we go hunting."

We drove out to Gregory where Joe’s place is and drove up to a house and went in. Joe introduced me to the Snazz duck call maker, Jerry Billy Pendergist. Jerry Billy is a local folk hero from Augusta. He was formerly a municipal bond salesman in Little Rock and Memphis but a few years ago decided to pursue other interests including making duck calls.

Jerry Billy invited Joe and I to hunt with him the next day on the Cache. We accepted and told him we would be at his house early next morning.

Jerry Billy and a few of his select friends have a special private place they hunt on the Cache River. To be invited to hunt with Jerry Billy at his blind on the Cache was very special.

We got to his blind before daybreak. Jerry Billy asked me if I had my Snazz duck call. I, of course, said yes. He said, "Get it out." So I did and he began to walk me through his instructions on how I should use his duck call.

Folks, I will tell you that first I was just trying to patronize him but the more he worked with me the better it sounded.

The hunting that day was spotty so we had plenty of time to practice. Jerry Billy was very patient with me and you could tell that he was a master at working with difficult people like me.

When we would see a flight of ducks come over he would not call or let Joe call, he would make me call. Believe it or not, I called in four or five flights of ducks that morning. We only had 6 or 7 flights to come in all day.

Around noon, Joe decided to get in the boat and go get some sandwiches. Jerry Billy and I stayed to continue my calling lesson. By this time, my lips were getting pretty sore.

I saw a couple of ducks. I called, brought them in, shot them myself. When I picked up the ducks, I saw that one was a black mallard. I had the duck mounted and it sits in my office.

I am not a converted duck caller. Jerry Billy is a lifetime friend. I can’t say enough about the Snazz duck call. If it works for me, it’ll work for anyone.

Henry Bishop is President of First Georgia Bank in St. Simons Island, GA.