Minnesota Duck Calls, yesterday’s and today’s folk artists By Doug Lodermeier
Reviewed by Donna Tonelli

When word got around that a new book on Minnesota duck calls was in the works, but that all the illustrations were going to be in black and white, I was a little deflated. But when I saw the finished product, I was pleasantly blown away.

“Minnesota Duck Calls, yesterday’s and today’s folk artists,” written and self-published by Doug Lodermeier, is simply the best thought-out, organized and designed book on collectables that I have ever seen. Lodermeier, partner in the Minneapolis design agency, L&M Design, had a freedom in creating a book that most authors only dream about – total control of the production of his manuscript with virtually none of the restrictions, such as budgeting, number of photos, etc., that are often imposed by outside publishers. And readers will reap the benefits.

Minnesota Duck Calls is a massive encyclopedia tome of 616 pages that details all the known Minnesota call makers, past and present. Yet it is more than a “nuts and bolts” picture book. The author chronicles the life of each maker through the eyes of friends, family members and hunting buddies in interesting biographies that inform and entertain while capturing the diverse character of Minnesota and its craftsmen.

In a consistent manner, each maker’s section begins with a biography, based on personal interviews where possible, previously written material and published articles, and oral histories with family and friends. This is followed by a picture portfolio of all the known styles of calls produced by the maker with descriptions. Each call is photographed to scale, which is particularly helpful for identification purposes. The calls are then photographed in different stages of assembly to show the tone board, reed, wedge and inserts. The maker’s section is completed with what the author calls “the paper trail,” which may include the original packaging or boxes, literature and copies of patents.

As Lodermeier researched the individual craftsmen, it became apparent that in many cases their talents were not limited to call making. His editorial freedom allowed him to add descriptions and illustrations of fish and duck decoys, fishing lures, decorative carvings and related items, which adds a great wealth of previously undocumented information.

Lodermeier also demystifies the mechanics and construction of the fame calls by showing their basic anatomy and providing clarification of “game call jargon.”

While all the illustrations are in black and white, they are crystal clear and showcase the calls beautifully. The author traded off the expense of color for the opportunity to include more information and so many additional examples. This is by far the best documentation of any form of American folk art.

Anyone who is interested in the folklore of the sportsman and its place in Minnesota history will find this book a great read. The serious call collector will appreciate the completeness of the text and the quality of the examples illustrated. It is sure to be a necessary addition to any sporting collector’s library.