Custom: The meaning behind the word
As a call maker, I take pride in the "custom" part of my call company's name, MiG Custom Calls. That little word means many different things to many different people. To me it means someone can discuss an idea about a call and I can make it happen. Whether it be a certain sound, look, or a special material that has sentimental value to them. That’s something I'm proud to be able to do. Recently, after receiving a blank a customer for a custom call, I was reminded of past calls I've made and which ones meant the most to me. I've made my share of them that mean something to the customer, but two in particular stand out to me personally, and for different reasons.
The first one that immediately comes to mind for me is a call I made for my Meredith family Christmas a few years back, before I was even trying to make a go at this business venture and call making was still a hobby at best. I received a piece of old cedar from our family farm, it was cut down by my grandpa and used for a fence post around the lot where we would get the cows up to take to sale. Just a plain old cedar fence post. It was nothing pretty or fancy and it didn't sound all that great to my recollection, but my grandpa was my best friend for many years. To take something that he had put in the ground and turn it into a call, then watch my family members go crazy over it at our Dirty Santa Christmas party is something I'll never forget. Sticks with me every time I flip the switch on the lathe. Take care of my call Kori Elizabeth!!
The second one is a call I made for a friend locally last year before duck season. Scott and Mrs. Jessica are two parents I met while helping coach my son's baseball team. I didn't know them very well, but you could tell they are two of the finest people I've ever gotten to know. We talked off and on about things involving our boys, sports, and such. I noticed Scott one day wearing an Elite Archery hat and being a bow hunter myself, I struck up a conversation about that. That lead to other conversations about hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. With social media being all the rage as well, I friended both Scott and Mrs. Jessica on Facebook and the first thing I noticed was Scott's wall paper background. What I didn't know about them, is that they had lost twin boys a couple years past. His wall paper was a picture of him holding his boys. It gutted me. I can't begin to imagine that grief. During one of my conversations with Scott, he asked me to build him a couple calls, which I was happy to do. And I knew immediately what I wanted to do with one of them. At a birthday party for another boy in my son's class, I asked Mrs. Jessica if it would be okay to put the boys names on the band of one of the calls, along with an engraving that they had used for the headstone of the boys. I felt like asking was the only way to go about this. It's such a very personal situation, and I didn't want to overstep any boundaries. (I also made sure to speak with Scott before writing this piece.) She immediately said it would be a great idea and helped me get the picture I needed to get the image engraved on the barrel of the call. When I got the call back, I got cold feet. I wanted to tell Scott ahead of time so that he wouldn't be surprised, but Mrs. Jessica wanted to keep it a surprise. So, a few days later he pulled in the driveway to pick up his calls. I made sure to give him the other call first. Shortly thereafter, I had a grown man, an Air Force veteran, fighting off tears behind his sunglasses. Overcome with emotion it was all I could do not to lose it as well, and all I did was make the call.
They're just pieces of wood and plastic, really, with a mylar reed and cork wedge. Tools of the trade, an integral part of most waterfowl hunts. But under the right circumstances, they can be so much more. A fence post can be a reminder of a great man that taught his grandchildren many valuable lessons about life. A fancy looking piece of burl wood with poly resin castings in it can give a father the chance to take all of his boys hunting with him some time. I enjoy making calls, but to me, I'm proud to help with the memories.