The elaborate art form of duck call making - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

The elaborate art form of duck call making

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JACOB -- Duck calls come in all shapes and sizes. Single reeds, double reeds, wooden calls, acrylic calls, and much more.  All have a different sound, and to an extent, a different look.

You won't find many that look like the ones Kevin Rathjen makes.

"I've been a duck hunter all my life," said Rathjen. "My job at the power plant was a machinist. So attention to detail was something I was pretty much used to."

Some of the calls take weeks to make. He often uses a dentist's drill to carve out the elegant designs.

Rathjen placed third in decorative division of the National Wild Turkey Federation's call-making contest in Nashville.

"That call, I spent close to a month on," explained Rathjen. "It can be a few hours to weeks. It just depends on how elaborate it is."

The award-winning call is called  "The Duck Hunters" because the carving shows an eagle, a hunter, and even a catfish all chasing ducks. It sold at auction for $850.

Rathjen describes call making as more of a hobby than a business, often using local lumber off his property and making calls for friends, family, and charity.

"Just carrying on a tradition down here," said Rathjen. "Quite a few from Jackson County."

Despite the the high honors and awards for his calls, he remains humble about his talent.

"I've had people tell me there's no way I can do that," explained Rathjen. "They don't have the patience for it. I was blessed with patience more than I was with talent."

Rathjen's next project will involve making and carving a crib for his first grandchild.

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