We have all heard the mantra: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For well over 60 years the Faulk family of Lake Charles has been producing handmade calls with attention to detail and pride of craftsmanship that rivals anyone in the business.
Clarence Faulk began the Faulk's Game Calls with a goose call in the 1930s. Dudley “Dud” Faulk took over the company in 1951, and today Faulk’s Game Calls is a multi-generational operation shipping calls across the United States, into Canada and 17 foreign countries.
And it all began by putting a lot of miles on the Faulk’s vehicles.
“We’d make calls in our spare time, (and) then drive around Louisiana, stopping at places that sold sporting goods and sell the calls out of the trunk of the car,” Rena Faulk said. “We got $1.95 for them then; today we get $14.95 for a handmade, hand-tuned wooden duck call.”
When asked why they didn’t start importing acrylic or molded parts from overseas, the matriarch of the family crossed her arms, frowned and shook her head.
“We don’t go for that,” she said.
Every call is still hand-turned, hand assembled and hand tuned. The equipment used today is what Dud Faulk got from Clarence Faulk, along with some he designed himself to ensure close tolerances.
The calls were originally limited to duck and goose. In the late ‘50s, Dud began to add a line of predator and animal calls, which were highly successful and remain in production today.
While the company sells calls around the world, its approach to how it markets and distributes its products hasn’t changed — even in today’s world of large outdoor retailers.
“Dudley won two international championships, a national championship and called in thousands of ducks with the calls we made. Why should we change what works and has been proven for generations?” Rena Faulk said. “We started out selling to the mom-and-pop operations, and that remains the focus of our sales. The big-box stores have a place, and we might be able to sell a few calls there, but at what price in quality?”
Faulk’s calls are made, for the most part, with woods available in the United States. In addition to walnut, maple and cherry, some calls are made from bamboo grown in the Faulk’s backyard. Zebrawood is imported to offer a color variety.
But don’t expect to see a fancy building or a big warehouse: The business has remained at the same location in Lake Charles, and has seen a few additions to the shop. The family home has been converted into office space, and serves as the shipping and receiving point. Ten employees produce 75,000 to 80,000 calls a year. The senior employee who is not a member of the family is Arthur LaJeune, who has been with the Faulk’s for 44 years.
When asked what they thought of the Duck Dynasty program, one younger worker pointed at Arthur and laughed.
“We had an Uncle Si before the guys up in Monroe ever picked up a call, but our guy prefers coffee to tea,” he said.
The No. 2 employee has 43 years of service to the Faulks. Aside from the employees, the family has always been a hands-on group. Dud and Rena Faulk had three daughters: Julie Heard, Sheran Faulk and Paula Faulk. Each still has a hand in the business. The newest member of the family to enter the business is Canaan Heard, Julie’s son. He is a combat Marine who served in the Middle East in 2007-08.
“I was a box folder, helped mom with the paperwork and packed boxes for shipment,” Paula Faulk said. “There were some times when the repetitive work became hard and tiring, but it taught me a lot about business and determination. I did like to hunt with dad when I was younger. Those were special times and are special memories.”
The Faulks visit trade shows and wildlife expos, and are often told about a call that has been in a family for generations — and still sounds clear and true. Collectors are another source of sales and stories of renowned hunters who used a Faulk’s call.
“Over the years there have been a few setbacks — the economy, hurricanes, the decline in small sporting goods stores — but I really can’t say we have ever had a bad year,” Rena Faulk said.