you duck hunt on the Tennessee River in North Alabama you have probably
heard of the name Gary Thomas. Gary hails from Athens Alabama, which
is located just a few miles from the Tennessee River. He has been
in the call making business for over 25 years and continues to make
calls for friend's family and the general public. In fact my (Author:
Greg Hodges) first duck call was a Gary Thomas; Arkansas Style;
Osage Orange call which I have owned for 17 years.
Gary has lived in North Alabama his whole
life. He briefly left to serve in the US Army in 1966 but a few
years later returned to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Gary worked for TVA for 30 years as a Senior Operator at the Wheeler
Hydro Plant. His primary job was the daily operation of the plants
power generation, flood control computation and the performance
of high and low voltage switching. He has since retired and this
has given him time to devout to the thing he enjoys most, call making.
experience in water fowling began 40 years ago when he use to hunt
with his father and brothers. His interest in making calls was sparked
when he touched his first custom duck call. It was a Chick Major's
duck call. He liked the call so much he decided he would try his
hand at making one of his own. His father who was a master at restoring
antique furniture had all the necessary tools that Gary would need
to start this new hobby. Gary experimented with different woods
and made most of his calls form Osage Orange. During those first
few years he gained great respect for call makers after finding
out how difficult making a call really was. There were so many variables
and tolerances that went into making duck calls, which was something
he never anticipated. Ultimately he succeeded and Gary contributes
much of his later call making success to the influence of C.H. Amaden.
produces around 200 calls a year. Gary's calls are single reed Arkansas
style with a pinned brass band. He also produces a competition grade
open water call in wood or acrylic. These calls are very loud and
raspy but can be blown very softly to produce the lowest quacks,
or hard to produce the loud, clear, ringing tones of the highball.
If you desire a timber hunting type call, Gary produces a shorter,
softer sounding call that has plenty of rasp like "Old Susie"
herself. All calls can be tailored to the demands of the individual
customer. He also guarantees the workmanship for the life of the
In October of 2001 Gary entered his calls
in the Cottonlandia Callmakers Show in Greenwood, Mississippi. Gary's
calls won first place in the acrylic division and placed second
in the hunting call division. The Cottonlandia Callmakers Show had
over 200 call makers in twelve categories.