Giant duck call takes top spot
DANVILLE — Mark Hillery and his son Damen now know what else someone can do with a zoology degree — tell if a duck call sounds like a duck.
That's one of the requirements the father-son duo had to satisfy in their quest to get the Guinness World Record for the longest duck call.
Last summer, the Hillerys got the idea to make a large version of their homemade duck calls sold through their online business, MD Calls.
They wanted to break the world record held by Billy Hays in Milan, Tenn., who crafted a 36-inch call officially measured in October 2006.
Hand-turned on a lathe, just like their regular calls created in their Bismarck-area shop, the Hillerys built a 56-inch call from poplar wood that weighs at least 30 pounds and takes two people to hold. But it works. Every bit of the week-long build had to be videotaped and documented for submission to Guinness, which also required a zoologist (to confirm the call sounds like a duck) and a surveying company (to measure the length).
"It was a nightmare," said Mark Hillery, explaining that finding a zoologist wasn't easy. "Building it was the easy part."
Eventually, Danville Area Community College found a zoologist in Milford who worked for Ducks Unlimited and is an avid hunter, so the Hillerys drove the call to him.
He listened to the call. He thought it sounded like a duck.
"He was pretty impressed," Mark Hillery said.
The zoologist had to e-mail documentation to Guinness verifying his degree, along with confirmation that the call sounded like a duck. A Danville surveying company handled the measuring.
More than five months after making the call, the Hillerys received e-mail confirmation recently that the world record for longest duck call now belongs to them.
It hasn't attracted any big ducks yet, but they're hoping it attracts big business.
Mark Hillery said the outdoor shows they've signed up for this year are giving them a second booth to display the "world record" call.
"We really want to go to the next level," Mark Hillery said of their call business, which they both work around their day jobs. "We want to do this for a living."
Chris Shields and the Hillerys aren't the first area residents to earn a spot in the bible of bests.
Entering the Guinness World Records Book in 2004, with a right ear measuring 13.75 inches and a left ear measuring 13.5 inches was Tigger, a best-of-breed-winning bloodhound from St. Joseph.
Tigger, owned by Bryan and Chris Flessner, passed away in 2009 but still holds the title of Dog With The Longest Ears.