(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Lowell Polston, owner of Pro Hardware in Manila, has been collecting game calls for several years and is now adding his own creation of Pro's Game Calls, for hunters and collectors.
"I collected calls because I knew they had been hand-made by someone," Polston said. "A few years ago I discovered there are a lot of collectors out there and a lot of unique game calls being made."
Polston has always enjoyed hobbies and now has added his game calls to working on his A-Model vehicle, working on a country music CD, building a house in Hardy, and real estate, selling lots in Hardy.
"We see a lot of good calls," Polston said. "I am always buying a new, custom made call. I have known a lot of older call makers who have inspired me over the 34 years I've been in the hardware business in Manila including Vinson Lay, Uncle Dick Hillhouse, Jaybird Fletcher, W.T. (Bill) Shockley, Tom Dennison, and Bill Rasmussin. Other call makers are Barry McFarlin, Jim Pickle, Walter Briley, David Hutton, and Jeremy Bennett. Big John Ashabranner and Claude Jack Stone have been my mentors in creating my calls."
"I used to visit Dick Hillhouse's shop where he built wooden duck boats," Polston said. "I enjoyed visiting his shop and always thought someday I wanted to have a shop with a sawdust floor. My shop is on a smaller scale but it is a good place to make my game calls."
Polston has made a variety of game calls including the Diamond Back Rattlesnake made with rattlesnake skin, Thunder Lizard made with alligator, Thunder Chicken from ostrich, Thunder Cat from a bobcat, checkered design calls, and many more.
He has made calls from a variety of wood including walnut, cherry, cedar, birch, maple, palm, and rosewood. He also makes a few wall hangers, hand checkering, with metal reeds. He stocks plastic reeds and rubber wedges for the market calls. He can tune a metal reed call or make a wood wedge.
Polston made a special call for his wife, Rosemary, for Valentine's Day. The call features a painted rose with a personal inscription. Mrs. Polston enjoys hunting.
Polston's son, Bryan, joined his dad in the hardware business. Bryan is the manager of Pro Hardware which gives Mr. Polston a little more time to spend on his hobbies.
He has helped several of his friends make their own calls in his shop.
"I want to share this hobby with interested people," Polston said. "It is good to share ideas and talk about our calls with others who enjoy making calls. A lot of people have helped me."
It has been a learning experience and Polston admits he has a box of rejects he keeps to remind him of what not to do.
Polston can make a small call in about an hour but some of the larger ones take up to six hours. Checkering a call takes a little longer but makes for a unique pattern. His game calls start at $20 and go up. They are sold at the hardware store. They make great gifts for the collector and the hunters and a good souvenir of the area.
Polston has always been interested in the history of the area and includes a personal note about his game calls and an interesting brochure about the history of Big Lake Arkansas with each of the calls he sells.
"Making calls is another hobby I enjoy," Polston said. "Right now I am making duck calls but I hope to expand and make turkey calls and more."
He is also enjoying working on an A-frame house in the Hardy area. He was born in Sharp County in what was known as Wild Cat Corner. He moved to Manila with his family in 1950.
Polston invites anyone to stop by Pro Hardware and see the variety of Pro's Game Calls.