Brad Samples: Reigning Champion of Champions Blindsides the Competition
I can remember the first time I saw a Brad Samples call. In the world filled with flames, bright colored acrylics and camo swirls, here was a call that was perfect. Dark red cocobolo barrel tipped in african black wood with a matching black wood band and insert. Carved into the band was a tiny and intricate feather pattern I had never seen before on a call only up staged by the full length "three feather design" Brad carves into his inserts. No detail was out of place nor ignored. A true piece of artwork that I would be afraid to take to the blind like a proud new corvette owner placing a car cover on his prize at the end of every night. I knew from the moment I saw that call I'd be placing an order. Since then I personally have started to carve calls, getting my inspiration from the master carver.
I asked Brad if he would be interested in doing an interview about his call making career and tell his story and he was kind enough to give his time to do so.
Call Making-As told by Brad Samples
I was in my late twenties when a friend who duck hunted gave me a Labrador retriever. After watching the "Water Dog" video, I trained my new dog the basic commands and retrieving as I learned them, and it was pretty exciting seeing the dog do what she was trained to do. Although enjoyable, I still didn't have a strong love for duck hunting because I had never been. As season opened I couldn't wait to try and shoot a duck and see the dog do her work. The hunts went by and as I watched her skills refine, my love for waterfowl hunting began to grow. After just a short few years of hunting and I begin to get the Idea to try and make my own duck call.
I thought it would be so neat to call a duck in with something I had made. After researching online I realized there was very little information on the subject available, I knew only the basic parts of a call but that was it. I took a piece of maple to work and made a makeshift mandrel to fit in a drill press. I then sharpened a screwdriver to use as a turning chisel. I had a vertical lathe on which I was able to shape and sand the maple piece into a barrel. Once the barrel was finished I needed something to make an insert with, which came at the expense of an old broom I found behind a door cutting off the end of the handle. I drilled a quarter-inch hole all the way through the piece and turned it to fit into the barrel. I freehanded a tone board and cork notch. I found what I needed for the reed because we just happened to use mylar at work. Once it was all together I had completed my first call or what I thought was a call. The tone channel was drilled straight through which made it very hard to blow. I really had no one to ask call making questions to and was limited to the little information found on a site called Miss Mallard, short for Mississippi Mallard.
Finally, I was able to purchase a lathe. While everyone was gone, I set the lathe up in our kitchen. I drilled out a piece of cocobolo and made my first call on a lathe in the kitchen. I never said a thing about it but that afternoon my wife commented on the kitchen being dusty in an area later that day as she came in. I continued to turn and bought a tone board jig I found on eBay. It wasn't the best sounding but I felt like I was getting somewhere. I didn't use that jig long because I wanted to create my own design and sound. This led to making several wooden jigs through trial and error and later having my first custom jig made. As my skills progressed and I adjusted my tone board I would have new jigs made improving on the sound. After making many hunting calls things would take a turn after a visit to the NWTF Grand national convention in Atlanta.
In Atlanta, I was still a young call maker and really wanted to meet some of the people I had seen online at the time. I was let down a bit for being blown off and dismissed by a few but that wasn't the case when I met Bob Wiseman. Bob and I talked for roughly an hour to an hour and a half as we walked and he showed me his calls on the table. I was really amazed at the miniature call he had made that was checkered, sparking my interest in adding more embellishments to my calls. I have always credited Bob in the turning point of my call making from my basic call to a highly decorative call. While at the show i somehow I stumbled into the grand premiere auction and I was totally blown away at the decorative carved calls. I could not fathom how someone could do that to a call and immediately ordered a checkering set after the show.
As I started learning how to checker, things were going well so I sped up which was a mistake, well kind of. The checkering tool took a wrong turn and messed my lines up thus ruining my checkering. Out of frustration I set the call aside only to pick it up later and traced a duck on it, I thought I can't make it any worse now. Over the course of the day I would use a Dremel to cut out the duck and then onto doing simple a background. It wasn't much but I was so proud of it. I entered the call into a contest only to not place. That did not stop me and I continued to make carved calls asking opinions and improving my work slowly. In 2012 I entered the NWTF Grand National Convention with a carved entry, which was filled with unbelievable calls. Blown away, I was told my call had tied with Mike Houlihan for best of show who was a great call maker. As the tiebreaker judging was completed, I was awarded 2nd Best if Show but it felt like I had won it all by tying such a great call maker. This only gave me confidence and the following three years I really busted my tail to try my best to win.
In 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 and I won the NWTF Grand national call maker of the year. I also won the NWTF GRAND national champion of champions in 2014,2015,2016,2017. Now I think back on my first visit to the NWTF convention in Atlanta. I never thought I would compete with let alone win and accomplish the things I have in the call making world at the levels I saw in there has been mind boggling. Call making has placed so many lives in my path that I never would have known if I had never started the journey. I have been blessed to learn from the top call makers across two countries and also been able to help many call makers needing help. You can not place a value on the friendships made, time spent in the blind, laughs we've laugh and the encouragement given. I have made some very close friends that I don't take for granted. My life mission for many years has been to give more than I receive in all areas of life.
Just passing call #1000, I realize how far things have come that I had never planned on. I kind of got carried away making that one hunting call for myself. My future goals for Blindsided Calls are to continually improve quality of sound and construction of the calls produced. It is my goal to build that call that the customer will be proud to own. I have had the pleasure to work with many great ideas that friends have dreamed up and challenged me with. Thanks for the trust you put in me to make it happen.