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WORLD CHAMPION DUCK CALLER PASSES
Tennessee’s Mike McLemore, Three-Time World Champion and Champion of
Champions Duck Caller passed away Sunday at his home in Huntingdon after a
lengthy illness. For decades McLemore manufactured calls that were
considered to be some of the best ever by waterfowlers nationwide.
His reputation often had him emceeing various events across the country
including the prestigious Easton
Waterfowl Festival on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Yet he often made visits
to local Ducks Unlimited banquets lending his support.
A frequent guest speaker at Paris-Henry County Duck Unlimited events,
McLemore always had time to visit with sportsmen and duck callers hoping
some of his talent might rub off on them as well. He continued to host
calling contests after retiring from competition calling such as his Grand
American Duck and Goose Calling contest that later became part of the
Reelfoot Lake Waterfowl Festival.
When the Paris DU chapter first started the Kentucky Lake Waterfowl
Festival McLemore was there on the front line helping us get things going
and with his reputation came many other call manufacturers and hunters.
McLemore had a unique style of calling that commanded any duck hunter’s
attention once he tuned up and blew a serenade that turned the call into a
musical instrument. His calls had the loud rig of a hail call or the soft,
raspy tone of a lonesome hen mallard circling the treetops in the wee
hours of the approaching dawn.
He had a legion of friends and fans and I was fortunate to be in the
ranks, having shared several sunrises with him in various states as we
scanned skies and swapped stories. I learned a lot about duck calling from
him and always linked up just before season opened to get my calls
I could tune the reeds at times and swap out the cork but never could
master the art like McLemore as once he did his tricks and put it up to
his mouth it sounded like a duck was about to take your cap off. He had a
knack for duck calling and it carried him across the country and
throughout life. No one I ever knew could mimic that lonesome hen sound
One of his many attributes was his willingness to help others. Time and
again when we worked sports shows or events together I’d hear him
patiently help a wannabe duck caller. McLemore always left a good
impression on a guy attempting to learn the art of calling and made the
stranger feel like he too could someday be a World Champ.
There is seldom a day in my duck blind that McLemore’s name doesn’t
surface. I still blow his duck calls and will cherish the memories of my
friend every time I hang the lanyard around my neck with the old plastic
Mallard Magnet and the wooden Real Deal models.
And when the ducks respond and come to me, descending against a north wind
with web feet out, I’ll think of my old friend who is now in that big duck
blind in the sky. I’ll bet you a spot on the downwind corner of the blind
that he’s up there helping someone learn how to blow a duck call too!
Steve McCadams is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing
area. He has also contributed many outdoor oriented articles to
various national publications.