a bayou beast
A Louisiana man clings to the traditions of his French ancestors for making duck calls and the other necessities of duck hunting. Dale Bordelon gets everything he needs from the woods and riverbanks near his home in Deville in rural Rapides Parish.
making a duck call the old-fashioned way
Dale Bordelon is old-fashioned. “I wanted to do everything like my ancestors, the old French people,” explains Bordelon. He adds, “When I go hunting, I’m 100% efficient. I made everything”. He doesn’t use power tools. Bordelon has old hand tools, the kind that he says would have been used in the 1700’s. Bordelon holds up a long-handled tool shaped like a curved axe and tells me, “This is what they call a foot adze. You stand in a boat like that and dig”. He used the foot adze and other hand tools to turn a 30-inch wide cypress log into a dugout pirogue. Bordelon also collects driftwood along the shoreline of the nearby Mississippi River that he carves into wooden duck decoys.
gathering materials for a duck call
I join Bordelon for a short drive from his home to a lowland forest to get river cane. He uses the long bamboo-like cane stalks to make the barrels of his popular “Bayou Beast” duck calls. Using a machete, he chops down an armful of cane. These are the perfect size, he says, “Look how pretty this is. You want something big like a 12-gauge shell to make a duck call”.
the story of bordelon’s bayou beast calls
The cane will now sit in an outdoor shed for months, maybe even a few years, before he starts cutting and filing the sections of cane to construct duck calls. A critical component of the duck call is the sound board, which Bordelon carefully carves with a knife. He uses pieces of red cedar that he finds along the river. He shows me a large piece of cedar driftwood, “This came from the Mississippi River,” Bordelon explains. “I went over there and walked the banks, but I pick the heavy ones ‘cuz it makes a better duck call.”
in tune with ducks
I asked Bordelon if his old-fashioned method of hand-crafting duck calls makes a difference, “Do they attract more ducks or is it just a tradition you want to preserve?” Bordelon replies, “It’s mostly tradition but making it by hand I can tweak that soundboard to get different sounds”. He adds, “I think you can get a little bit more out of it the way I’m doing it”. Bordelon explains how he would tweak the sound of his calls, blowing them for a few mallards that stayed in his yard. “The would come in the shop and help me make calls,” Bordelon says. “I’d blow and then they would blow. We called each other so there must be something they like to hear.”
how to control a duck call
a booming business
Borderlon has turned his passion into a business. He says he has a two-year waiting list for his Bayou Beast Calls. And his son, Hunter, now helps in the shop. “He’ll check ‘em out and let me know if they’re wrong,” Hunter says. Dale quickly adds, “They’re going all over the world so I gotta make sure they’re good quality”. For Dale Bordelon, the way these duck calls their sound, and the old-fashioned way of making them are an important French and family tradition.
different calls for different ducks
contact bayou beast calls
You can contact Dale Bordelon through his Bayou Beast Calls Facebook page, or call him at (318) 308-0397.