Answering the Call: Central Louisiana craftsman preserves Cajun tradition with his sought-after duck calls
Duck hunting has been a part of Louisiana heritage since Cajuns first settled in the region. One man in central Louisiana is keeping the old ways alive by continuing to craft these prized duck calls rooted in tradition.
In a world where louder is not always better, Dale Bordelon meticulously handcrafts duck calls in his shop in the heart of Louisiana. There, he is doing more than just crafting duck calls. Rather, Bordelon is protecting a legacy rooted in Cajun tradition.
“It’s from dire to lightning that takes a duck caller, and you’ve got to have a soft call too,” he says, echoing the wisdom of an old-timer.
While he spent most of his career at a grain elevator, his true calling has always been duck hunting. Over the last 30 years, he turned his passion into a full-time job, with a waiting list for his calls extending two to three years. Shaping everything from paddles and oars to molds and knives, Bordelon’s craftsmanship extends beyond duck calls. Each piece tells a story of his passion and dedication to duck hunting. The demand speaks to the authenticity and craftsmanship imbued in each piece.
“I’ll build them like they did in the 1800s, so I didn’t plan on nothing,” Bordelon explains. “I just started making calls, and people liked them.”
From crafting the soundboard to smoothing and sanding, his process is a labor of love resulting in a perfect duck call. River cane, grown under forest canopies on riverbanks, is the raw material for his creations. By using River cane instead of bamboo for materials, his calls have a unique strength and character.
For Bordelon, creating duck calls is more than a job, but is a mission to preserve Cajun culture passed down through generations since their arrival in Louisiana. Today his calls attract customers from around the world, and Bordelon finds fulfillment in sharing his Cajun roots.
“I love doing it, and the biggest thing of all — I love sharing my Louisiana Heritage. That means a lot to me,” he said.