As long as C.M. “Son” Jordan can remember, he has hunted ducks. He is now 81 years old and lives in Greenwood, Miss. He still whittles out a few duck calls for friends and goes duck hunting when he gets a chance, but not by himself.
His duck call-making ambitions began when he visited R.R. McPherson (Mr. Mac), who began turning out duck calls for sale in Greenwood, Miss., in 1951 at the old Delta Sporting Goods. Son and W.C. Cross, a fishing buddy of his Daddy's, frequented Mr. Mac's shop, where they held calling sessions in preparation for tournaments. Cross did much of his duck hunting with Son, blowing a “Tamer” call by Mr. Mac.
With the Mississippi State Calling Contest looming in 1956, Son decided to make his own call. A few weeks later, he entered the contest at Clarksdale, Miss., and came in third behind Cross, who won, and Mr. Mac, who came in second. After that, Cross began blowing Son's call instead of Mr. Mac's.
Cross got so good with Son's call that he went on to win the World Duck Calling Championship at Stuttgart, Ark., in 1957 and again in 1958, blowing a Son call. Then everyone wanted a Son call.
At the state championship at Clarksdale in 1959, Son beat all challengers. He traveled to Stuttgart that November, but didn't place.
His hunting buddy, Cross, couldn't compete in Stuttgart in 1959 because the rules had changed after Pat Peacock, a woman, won back-to-back titles in 1955 and 1956. The rules-makers thought it was time for a man to step forward and recapture the title. The rules stayed this way for 10 years, then changed back to allowing a caller to win three championships.
The next two years, there was no state contest, but Son represented Mississippi. In 1960 he came in second at Stuttgart behind Ed Landreth of Joplin, Mo. The following year he came in third behind the winner, Pete Claett of Kansas City.
During the mid 1950s and early 1960s, Cross and Son traveled the duck calling circuit, taking in most of the major, sanctioned events: the International Duck Calling Championship at Crowley, La.; the World Championship at Stuttgart; the Gulf Coast Regional at Port Arthur, Texas; and a regional contest held at Beaumont, Texas.
Son credits Mr. Mac with getting him started in the duck call making business. In fact, he fashioned his first calls after Mr. Mac's. On a duck hunt at McIntyre Scatters years ago he lost the call he used in his very first contest at Clarksdale.
No one knows exactly who invented the first duck call or when or where it was constructed. Howard Harlan and W. Crew Anderson, coauthors of Duck Calls: An Enduring American Folk Art, don't know, but I venture to say that none that followed can rank any higher than Son Jordan, Mr. Mac and Speedy Tharpe.
I wonder if Greg Hood of Clarksdale, owner of Southern Game Calls, knows about these sports. Gregg is a third-generation master call maker and champion caller. He holds 15 world sanctioned event titles and more state and regional titles than anyone else. In fact, he is the only person to hold major titles in duck, goose, deer and turkey calling.