At an early age, R.R. McPherson, living outside Leachville, Ark., hunted ducks at Big Lake, one of the most famous waterfowling grounds in the country.
He had heard of and seen some of the duck calls made by the legendary Big Lake duck call-makers: J.T. Beckhart and Claude Stone. He thought to himself, “I can do that.”
So he picked up a stick and drilled a hole, and the “rest is history,” according to his son, Don, of Greenwood, Miss.
At Leachville, McPherson made a living by picking cotton and doing odd jobs. One day, he walked in from the fields and told his wife, “We're moving to Pontiac, Mich., where I hope to get a job with General Motors.”
That was just before the start of World War II. Sure enough, McPherson got a job with the automaker.
The war came on and he and his wife worked the assembly line making parts for military vehicles. Mr. Mac made few calls during that time.
After the war, General Motors sent him to Greenwood, Miss., where he was the dealer representative for Mississippi.
During the mid-1940s to the late 1940s, he made just enough duck calls to satisfy a few friends, all handmade.
When Don McPherson was only a whippersnapper, he traveled with his father to calling contests. When Don was thirteen (1946), he entered the Leflore County duck calling contest, blowing his daddy's calls. His sister, who was a few years younger, also entered contests and did quite well.
Mr. Mac quacked away at Stuttgart several years but never won.
When he retired in 1951 from General Motors, he began turning out more calls. In the mid-1950s W.C. Cross of Greenwood paid a visit to Mr. Mac, the man he had heard so much about. He began using Mr. Mac's calls when he hunted and when he blew in contests.
As for Mr. Mac, he realized that this was no ordinary caller, because Mr. Mac was no ordinary caller himself. He recognized immediately the talent standing in front of him.
Soon others visited his shop, C.M. “Son” Jordan, one mean duck hunter and duck caller himself, dropped by. Before long, he joined the private duck calling sessions, as each prepared for calling contests. Cross got so good that he won back-to-back World Championship Duck Calling Contests in 1957 and 1958 at Stuttgart.
He had no name for his call, so he was about to name it “Mr. Mac.” That was until the day when his daughter told him his call sounded so good that he was going to tame those wild ducks he was calling. From that point on, “Tamer” was emblazoned across his label. Not all of his calls have labels because he occasionally sold a call to a friend before he had time to stick a label on it.
Eventually, he sold calls at Delta Sporting Goods in Greenwood. Over the years, his son said, he made a few thousand calls. In addition, Don made a few calls.
Mr. Mac did most of his hunting at Six Mile Bayou, McIntyre Scatters and Matthew's Brake. I feel fortunate to have one of his calls. I bought it from Mr. Mac when I visited with him in 1982.
One year later, he was dead. He was buried with the very first duck call he ever made — the one made from a stick.