Former NHS graduate wins 2nd duck calling world championship
Former Newport High School Graduate Brad Allen recently won the 77th Annual World's Duck Calling Championship in Stuttgart.
Newport Independent - Newport, AR
Updated Nov. 28, 2012 @ 9:41 am
Updated Nov. 28, 2012 @ 9:41 am
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This marks the second time he has won the competition, winning his first in 2010.
His approach was seemingly unchanged from his first win although he did decide to try a different call this time around.
"The call I used in 2010 is made out of acrylic, a type of very hard plastic, which is what most everyone uses now days," Allen said. "This year I tried something different and its kind of a cool story."
This years call was made of a rare material known specifically as Westinghouse Micarta.
"Basically, what it is if you really look at it, it looks almost like it has wood grain in it but it's layers of paper and glue that's heated and compressed and made super hard," said Allen.
According to Allen, they began making duck calls out of the material sometime in the 1980's.
"The duck call makers really liked the sound, but the guy that made that particular type (of micarta) never wrote down the formula for how it was made and died unexpectedly, so over time it became hard to find," Allen said. "Micarta is still produced however it is not the same that was used to make the calls"
Allen somehow, through a network of friends, was able to find two small pieces of the original Westinghouse Micarta.
"I paid a ton for it, but it was only enough (material) to make the insert of the call."
After purchasing the two pieces he found out the pieces were too small to fit inside the machine used to carve the duck calls.
Pressing on, Allen asked around and came up with a possible solution.
"You take a dowel rod and epoxy it to either end of the material and maybe the machine could grab the dowel rod to turn it," explained Allen.
He took the pieces to Butch Richenback who, after one failed attempt, was able to create one blank insert.
Richenback is the founder of Rich-N-Tone Calls, the company that makes Allen’s customized duck call.
"Butch had the blank, like I said I paid a lot of money for the material, and he at first didn't want to cut out the call," Allen explained. "He said, 'man, it's a one shot deal, if I mess it up or it doesn't sound right then your out.'"
Being a collector of calls Allen asked Richenback to go ahead and try to make it as close to his competition call as possible.
"If it sounds great I'll use it, and if it doesn't I'll have it for my collection," Allen said.
After one blow, Allen says he could tell that the call was spot on.
"It was funny to turn around and see him (Richenback), he was just grinning." Allen joked. "To my knowledge I'm the only person in the world (championship) who has a modern day Westinghouse Micarta."
After winning a World title, callers become eligible to compete in an elite tournament consisting only of former champs. The Champion of Champions event is held every five years, and once you win it you are no longer allowed to compete at sanctioned events. Allen will get his opportunity to enter the exclusive tournament in 2015 as long he does not win the world championship the same year.
"You have a lot of world champions who sit out that year in order to compete in the Champion of Champions," said Allen.
Allen is the son of Bill and Paulette Allen and currently resides near Judsonia in a two-story cabin overlooking the Little Red River. He is employed as a physical therapist for Reaper Physical Therapy of Searcy.
The 39-year-old, recently married, Newport native grew up searching for ducks near the Cache River and competed against a field of 61 fellow callers during his 12th entry into the event.
Preparing for the contests takes a tremendous amount of time and patience.
During the year, Allen practices periodically to stay sharp, but rehearsing increases dramatically about three weeks prior to a tournament.
"I usually run up to 10-90-second sessions a day." explained Allen.
The proper breathing technique is also key to competitive calling.
It is all about the air pressure and regulating the air,” Allen said. “You can’t just blow loose air into the call because it has to come up from the diaphragm, and it’s pressurized air that you release a little at a time.”
Maintaining a wide-open passage for the air to reach the call is also important.
"One of the tricks is learning to blow with your throat open because you can’t close your throat as you are bringing the air up from your lungs,” Allen said. “You have to be able to maintain the airflow while keeping your throat in the open position.”
Allen intends to compete in the Champions of Champions if possible and acknowledges that winning would be a lot of fun even if a little bittersweet.
"It would be so sweet that it would cover up a lot of the bitter," Allen joked.