White Eagle calls offer a new
spin on an classic sound
FEATURE | October 2014
Story by: John Gordon
When the air cools and the leaves start falling to the strong north winds, duck hunters start planning for the season ahead. Thorough preparation includes getting gear ready by checking decoys, cleaning guns and brushing the dog up on retrieving skills.
Most important, though, are the duck calls, and Michael Schwegman of Bartlett, Tennessee, knows this better than anyone. Schwegman’s love of waterfowl hunting began when he was 8 years old, hunting with his brother in the marshes of northeast Oklahoma.
His passion for wingshooting grew over the next three decades, and over time, he became fascinated with duck calls and how they worked. “I started collecting calls from all different eras,” Schwegman, whose collection includes calls as old as the 1800s, explained. “My chosen career path was engineering, so naturally I like to take things apart and learn how they work. What I found was that there had been some minor changes to calls over the years, but the basic mechanism remained unchanged.”
During the 2006-2007 duck season, Schwegman noticed that most of the calls he heard sounded the same. “I listened to calls being used around me in the distance, and I really could not tell the difference between them. That day, I decided to see if I could come up with a new sound.”
White Eagle Design, Schwegman’s duck call business, is the result of his passion and his ingenuity. His slogan, “Where the Future Meets the Past,” references the process he went through while creating his unique calls, which started when he compared modern calls to the antique models he had collected. “Metal reeds were popular back then so I started there, trying different combinations. Metal is great for calls since it will not stick, freeze, or echo easily. Trial and error led me to try two reeds. That is when I made a breakthrough.”
Schwegman continued to experiment by adding more reeds and testing different reed materials like brass and mylar, one of the most popular modern reed materials. “My triple reed call will climb up the ladder and back down again just like my other calls with even less chance of sticking or squealing. And since more is often better, I took that a step farther and put four reeds in a call. That is truly my best call for a beginner, because it will create that great hen sound and is very easy to control.”
In addition to adding multiple reeds, White Eagle Designs calls also feature a short barrel, putting breath closer to the reeds. “That gives you more control, I discovered, and is the key to having a call that will hit the top end but have the versatility to come down for those soft, finesse quacks that will finish ducks.”
Schwegman has his inserts molded in Nashville and hand turns all the barrels on a lathe in his small shop in his home garage. “I make all of them by hand and then tune every call myself. That way, I know they are up to my standards.”