On the X-THE Will Shelley
I spoke to Will a few months ago asking him about a new call he has under wraps. He asked where I heard that from as he has not told anyone about it yet. Pure luck and misunderstanding about a customer asking about their call in fact turned into the world getting ready to find out about a new call added to the lineup with books on it opening at the start of the year.
BTB: When did you start hunting ducks and who took you?
WS: For as long as I can remember I have been an avid hunter. I started hunting back in my early years of growing up. Walking around with my B.B. gun shooting everything I saw. Growing up I wasn’t raised in the waterfowl world. We didn’t hunt much ducks around here then, mostly deer. If we did duck hunt, it was walking up the creek or a pond and jumping them up. It wasn’t until the last 10 years that I really got into it.
BTB: When did you start turning calls? Who was your mentor along the way?
WS: My wife bought me a lathe for Christmas 2014. I had spent the last several months reading forums, taking notes and trying to learn as much as I could. I ended up buying some turning tools and once I figured out I had no clue what I was doing with the toneboard I needed a starting point with a jig. I bought myself a public jig and started making small adjustments. I thought I knew what I was looking for as far as sound. I messed around with a public jig for about 6 months and decided I wasn’t happy with the results I was getting. I ended up buying a flat jig and building my first call I was proud of. As far as mentors, I feel like I’ve had a bunch. It just seems like there’s so many guys out there willing to help. Most of them aren’t just mentors anymore. They’re lifelong friends. Cody Johnson from dirty oak calls was the first to offer me some help. Cody would invite me over and help me with my call. I’d say he’s the one that lead me in the right direction. Mike Meredith and I talk on a daily basis. We’re always bouncing ideas off of each other. John Keopp has been a huge help over the last year. Steven Handy and I have spent hours and hours on the phone with each other. I’m sure I wore him out with questions. I never really had just one single mentor to help me along the way, it was more of several guys take me under their wing and answering any question I had.
BTB: 2016 was a coming out party for The Will Shelley. What was that like?
WS: I earned “THE” nickname at Reelfoot in 2016. I’m still not sure what that was about. It was all just a joke and has kinda stuck. Now all i ever hear is that hashtag. 2016 was a good year for this little hobby of mine. It all started when I decided to put up the custom jig and try to better myself as a call maker. Once I showed up at the annual Reelfoot Call Maker get together, John Keopp and I sat down at Reelfoot and he showed me a few things. Once I got home I figured out what I needed to do, it was time to put up the jig and start over and start hand filling all my boards. That’s when I really started learning things. The next 8 months was spent learning and to help evolve this call I have now.
BTB: You live in a great area surrounded by talented call makers, what’s that been like to be in that environment of some of the best in the business?
WS: Yes sir, you’re right. In the surrounding area there are tons of awesome call makers. All within a couple hours drive from me. Wayne Betts, Micheal Meredith, Alan Whitson, Josh Hart, Waylon Thompson, Maverick Dunn, Cody Johnson, James Keith, Kenneth Whitehead. Butch Richenback, Rick Dunn, Kent Cullum...I could go on and on. This little area has produced a plethora of calls that have been sent around the world. Can you imagine how many ducks have been worked just with these guys alone?
BTB: Word has it you have something new in the works. We will be breaking that news when it happens, when do you expect it to be ready?
WS: As a call maker you’re always trying to come out with something better. Always changing things, add here, take some material away here. I’m always thinking of the customer. What would they like? For the last several months I’ve been working on a new call. After letting a few guys run the call and the feedback I've received I’ve decided to add it to the lineup. So instead of two calls, we will have 3 calls now. A small bore, the regular, and this new one. I think you guys will really like this one. (Look for the release before the new year.). You will be able to order it when I open the books.
BTB: What’s been your most memorable moment so far as a call maker? As a hunter?
WS: I’d say the most memorable thing about being a call maker is the friendships. Like I said before, I have made some lifelong friends along the way. Some call makers, some collectors and hunters. And to me, this is what it’s all about.