RENO COUNTY — What started as a hobby has become a business for Dallas Woolf.
He runs his Bigmouth Waterfowl Calls, a duck and goose call business, from his Stafford home.
Raised in Macksville, Woolf grew up hunting the goose-rich grounds near Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.
In the 1990s, he started experimenting with a variety of calls.
He knew he'd found something special when he bought his first acrylic goose call from a Kentucky call maker.
"I worked and worked and once I figured how to blow short-reed calls, I started thinking about making my own," Woolf said. "I ordered some acrylic and had a guy (lathe) it into a call."
He was so pleased with the product, he had a machine shop in Lyons make him 50 more.
That was in 2001.
He's since sold calls over most of America and to hunters in Canada.
While he has a Web site and attends some outdoors shows, most of his sales come from word of mouth advertising.
"It's a customer satisfaction thing. If someone has a call they really like, they talk about it and his buddies hear it," Woolf said. "I want to keep every customer happy."
The custom calls are known for volume, quality sound and ease of use.
"I like to tune the call exactly for the person," said Woolf, 39. "If they like to blow softly or if they like a call they can blow hard, that's how I'll tune them. The whole thing is customer satisfaction."
His calls currently sell for $100.
That includes tuning by Woolf's experienced ear and any adjustments the customer requests.
Call maintenance and repair come in the deal.
Woolf said he's had customers return a well-used call for tuning.
"I put a new reed in it, tune it and then buff the call so it looks good again," he said. "They supported me when they bought it and I need to support them. I don't charge for that."
Woolf's call line isn't vast, but it's certainly adequate to cover most waterfowling situations.
He makes a duck call, a goose call that mimics the deep honks of large Canada geese, and another that replicates the high-pitched honks of lesser Canadas.
Woolf's white-fronted goose call is known for volume and a trueness to the high-pitched and squeaky calls of the geese.
That he waterfowl hunts dozens of times a year helps Woolf continually improve his calls.
He also hears from avid waterfowlers who use his calls. Many are from the Great Bend area and other parts of Kansas.
Tim Strunk has been using Bigmouth Calls since about the time the company began. He's used them in contest calling and on several hundred goose hunts around Wichita and Quivira.
"We have no complaints. They're good calls and it adds to it that they're made by somebody local and we've gotten to know them on a personal level," said Strunk, of Manhattan.
Woolf said owning the call company has let him meet many waterfowlers.
He's been on hunts with professional callers and helped with some video and television shows.
He's also worked closely with the various Kansas chapters of Ducks Unlimited, building special calls for fund-raising auctions.
That's included calls with KU and K-State themes.
"The K-State call sold for a long more money," Woolf said.
A custom call with a WSU theme and emblem was also popular.
He's hoping to expand the numbers of hunters he meets in the field and show his calls to more people.
After spending 15 years as a school administrator, he's now working full-time on the family farm.
"As a school administrator, I never had the time or opportunity to go to a lot of shows or do things with the call business," Woolf said. "Now I'm hoping maybe I can do a few more of those things."
For more information go to www.bigmouthwaterfowlcalls.com