Rhéal Charlebois’ handmade wooden goose calls are winning contests all over North America. What started as a hobby is becoming a full-time concern for the 43-year-old hunter and woodsmith from Mascouche, northeast of Montreal. Now he’s selling his goose calls, which range in price from $125 to $170, with the help of his website, at www.recalldesigns.com.
THE NATION: How does one become a champion goose call maker?
RHÉAL CHARLEBOIS: About seven or eight years ago, I met some hunters from the United States. I showed them the goose calls I was making, and they took some home. They decided to enter my goose call in a contest in the U.S., and my goose call won. Then some goose call collectors from the U.S. approached me asking me if I would make a goose call for them. I entered more contests, and won more prizes, and I started getting many more calls.
TN: So how many prizes have you won?
RC: Now, I’ve won prizes in at least 20 contests, all over the U.S.
TN: Who are your clients?
RC: There are as many collectors as there are hunters who buy my goose calls. The collectors like them because they are handmade and very original compared to most goose calls on the market.
TN: What materials do you use?
RC: I use exotic hard woods, like ebony, that I import from faraway regions around the world. But I am careful to order my materials from plantations so I don’t contribute to deforestation in these tropical regions.
TN: Do these kinds of wood produce a better sound than the conventional store-bought acrylic goose calls?
RC: How can I say this; they produce a similar sound and each has their own strength and weakness. To my taste, the goose call made from an exotic wood most resembles the sounds made by the goose. The porous nature of the wood gives it an exceptional sonority because the wood is very dense and oil-rich. The density of this kind of wood gives volume to the call. The harder the wood, the bigger the volume.
TN: What does the oil give the wood?
RC: The oil stabilizes the wood during changes in temperature.
TN: How do you care for a goose call?
RC: The wooden goose call takes a minimum of maintenance. After a rainy day, it’s important to open it up and make sure it’s dry, wipe any moisture up, and let it dry. The next day it will be good to go.
TN: What are the advantages of an acrylic goose call?
RC: Acrylic is denser and more fluid, almost to the point of glass, which makes it more powerful in terms of volume. It takes no maintenance at all, and is stable in all kinds of weather.
TN: Which do you prefer?
RC: I’m pretty proud of my goose calls.