When I first went hunting with Jerry Billy Pendergist, we were kids tagging along with his Dad. Jerry Billy got to go because he was blood. I got to go because I could call ducks — barely. My call of choice was a Cajun. It was easy to blow and cost about three dollars.
There were only about three choices of call that I remember: Cajun, Faulk, and P.S. Olt. Most experienced callers preferred Olt, and it became our favorite for several years.
There were four of us callers on Olts by the ‘60s, and we were always trying for a better sound. We found it when we met Mick Lacy and John Liston. We all changed to the Big River Call and used it until we discovered the McLemore. It had a good sound and was the first Cocbolo wood I had ever seen. The reed board in mine was cut.
By this time, Jerry Billy had moved to the forefront of our group in calling ability and understanding of the calls. He spent hours with various call makers, trying to get them to make a call that sounded good through its full range and that had a consistent feel as you blew it at different levels.
One day Jerry Billy confided in me that he was going to make his own duck call because nobody could make one to suit him, and the people who tried had given up.
The first couple of prototypes looked like something in a Mexican card shop. He continually refined and improved until he had one he was proud of. He called it the "Snazz," and offered me the first one in 1989. I told him he should reserve serial #1 for himself and accepted #2.
In the years since #2, I’ve obtained several more Snazz calls. I want every one I blow, but I realize they are like a national treasure and should be shared.
Here’s the bottom line: if you call ducks, you need two Snazz calls in case you drop one in the water. If you collect calls, you may need more.
All other opinions aside, I’m the best duck caller I’ve ever heard, and I use only the Snazz duck call.
Captain Charles N. Mills was a lifelong friend and hunting companion of Jerry Billy. He went to be with the Lord in 2015.