Men hope to snag world record for duck call
DANVILLE — Local hunter Mark Hillery says water fowl hunting is starting to get bigger in Vermilion County.
Evidently, so are the duck calls — possibly world record big.
At Saturday's Central Illiana Outdoor Expo at the David S. Palmer Arena, Hillery and his son, Damen Hillery, plan to unveil a 4-foot 8-inch wooden duck call that they're betting blows away the current record for the Guinness World Record's longest duck call.
The Hillery duo's duck call measures 56 inches, which would far exceed the current world record held by Billy Hays in Milan, Tenn., whose duck call is 36 inches and was measured in October 2006, according to Sara Wilcox, public relations executive with Guinness World Records.
Hillery said their giant duck call -— unlike the large duck call made by their more famous counterparts on the hit reality TV show "Duck Dynasty" — actually works by blowing into it and is a replica of the wooden calls he and his son make in their shop north of Danville.
"It sounds like a giant duck," said Mark Hillery. "It has a lot deeper sound because it's coming through such a long barrel. It sounds really good. You can definitely tell it's a duck."
Hand-turned on a lathe, just like their regular calls, the giant duck call is made from poplar wood, which is tight-grained and not very heavy, Hillery said. But the call still takes two guys to hold it. They haven't weighed it yet, but they believe it's about 30 pounds.
"It's a chunk. It comes up to my shoulder," Mark Hillery said.
Avid hunters, Hillery and his son started making duck calls more than two years ago as a hobby and for their own hunting purposes. Friends, and friends of friends, began requesting them, and their word-of-mouth sales have grown into a business venture, MD Calls. They make and sell duck, goose and deer grunt calls, and Damen Hillery has even designed a duck logo that they're putting on shirts and hats. Most of their sales are through their website, mdcustomcalls.com and Facebook page, facebook.com/mdcalls.
The popularity of "Duck Dynasty" has been great for MD Calls, Mark Hillery said, explaining that people not associated with duck hunting love the show and are trying the sport. In one episode, he said, the cast members build their own giant duck call, but for whatever reason, it didn't qualify for the Guinness record. That's where Hillery and his son got the idea to build their own colossal call to claim the record and use it to promote their business at shows.
They built a 16-inch prototype first, he said. It's just like the big one. Mark Hillery said it took them about a week, working nights after their jobs, and one weekend to make the biggie, but it's taken several weeks to complete the registration process for the Guinness record attempt. Every bit of the build had to be videotaped and documented as well as the official measuring Saturday at the show. All the information will be submitted to Guinness; then it's waiting to hear if they get the record.
The pair plan to put their Big Bird-sized call to use, too, shooting some duck-hunting videos they plan to sell on DVD.
"I think it would be cool to take out on the boat and film calling in a duck with it," said Mark Hillery, who isn't convinced it will attract giant ducks. "If it pulled in any duck that would be OK with us."
The Central Illiana Outdoor Expo runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the David S. Palmer Arena, 100 W. Main St., Danville. The show features more than 70 vendors. There will be a kid zone and seminars and autograph signings with personalities from programs featured on the Outdoor Channel, the Sportsman Channel and the Pursuit Channel, including professional bow hunters Roger Raglin and Stan Potts, and Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, who's a hunter.