Custom Calls
(A Profile of Todd Alofs)

by: Ryan Grotenhuis

The call of the wild in the fields and marshes of Michigan attract many sportsmen like Todd Alofs, Michigan State Goose Calling Champion. It may be this call that is Todd's ticket to fame. His renowned calling abilities come from the use of one of his own custom made calls, which are used by hunters alike and in fields abroad.

In 1994, Todd competed in the statewide goose-calling contest held by the Saginaw Valley Chapter of Michigan Duck Hunters. During the three rounds of the contest, contestants were required to call for a total of 90 seconds. Calling routines featured in the event contained an assortment of greeting calls, intermediate calls, comeback calls and feeding calls. "You know, I can't even remember when they announced my name as the winner," Todd said, "I think I blacked out for a couple of seconds," he replied jokingly. Todd who was born and raised in Holland first became interested in calling at the young age of twelve. "I began by calling ducks and just moved on from there."

From this background comes the story of Todd's first duck hunt as a young boy with his uncle. "When shooting time arrived in the flooded timber that day, the sky was full of ducks in every direction. We had some hen mallards around us on the water and my uncle told me to listen to what they sounded like so that I could try to imitate them." It seems that from then on Todd was fascinated with the excellent sport of goose and duck hunting. Achieving the sounds that his uncle asked him to imitate did not come easy because of the calls that were on the market at that time. This is what drove Todd to create his own line of water foul calls.

Todd and his wife Lisa, now live on that same river near where his first hunt took place. Their home is nestled deep in the woods near the Allegan forest on the Kalamazoo River. It is here, on their estate, in a twenty by thirty foot workshop next to their home, where Todd carries on the business of hand crafting custom made duck and goose calls. In 1984, the beginning of his call making career, Todd was in search of a versatile, good looking, good sounding and functional call for his own use. After developing a call that met all of these standards, Todd began to market his calls through his business called "Quacker Attacker Custom Calls".

Now with a workshop set up with many wood working tools including a bench top lathe, Arbor press, and a versatile drill press, Todd enjoys creating calls from many domestic and exotic hardwoods. Domestic hardwoods that Todd uses for his calls include; Osage orange, curly maple, Birdseye maple, walnut, black locust, oak burls, and diamond wood. Exotic hardwoods, which Todd has access to include; African Blackwood, bocote, bubbinga, coca bola, cumary, kingwood, macasser ebony, padok, purple heart, rose wood (Honduran/Brazilian), wenga, and African zebra wood. With the use of these materials Todd can develop whatever specific call a customer may be looking for. Some calls contain elegant brass or silver bands which display special engravings, others may have checking or etching to the wooden part of the call. All of the calls contain handmade components, from the long fluted barrel to the nylon reed inserts. It is from these hand-tuned reeds that Todd's calls achieve the highest quality and realistic sounds of America's most sought after water foul.

Todd's profession for the past sixteen years has been a tool and die maker. "My tool and die background helps tremendously. All my calls are turned on metal working equipment. I spend a lot of time testing new ideas and prototyping them in my shop," Todd said. It may be this shop knowledge that benefits Todd in his call making abilities, but it is also the fact that Todd enjoys making things with his hands. Developing a call, with hand made components that is useful to hunters and helps them in many ways are ideas that sell.

Visiting shows around the country are where most of Todd's calls are sold. Functions, such as gun and knife shows and the ever-popular swap meets are also included in the location of sales. Sales at calling competitions are also quite substantial; this is where the customer can actually see the calls being put to use. It is from these demonstrations that buyers can hear for themselves every note made by the call, from a low murmur to a high pitch double cluck that sounds like a flock of geese rather than one lone goose.

When Todd is not working or making custom calls, you can find him hunting with his two black Labrador retrievers. The cornfields and marshes of West Michigan are great hiding places for Todd and his companions to enjoy the hunt for the ever-popular mallard or Canadian goose. Every fall thousands of hunters break for their favorite hunting location. Only a few hunt with the help from one of Todd's custom calls, which bring out the call of the wild.