His love for hunting was sparked as a teenager in Mississippi. "I started duck hunting when I was fifteen-years-old with one of my best friends, Greg Heblon. We were shooting wood ducks right outside of Meridian," says Ammons. "We both got the fever."
Neither Ammons nor Heblon knew a thing about hunting. "That first day we went through six boxes of shells and only killed four wood ducks. It was terrible," he laughs. "But we both decided that we really liked it and needed to pursue it." In the beginning of their love affair with hunting, it was Heblon who called the ducks. "He bought a duck call and started calling. I wanted to try it as well, but he didn't want me to do the calling. He wanted to do it," Ammons laughs.
As Ammons perfected his duck hunting skills, he met a famous call maker in Mississippi, Dick Reed. Reed modeled his calls after Jimmy Riddell, who created a Reelfoot Lake Style call. "I ended up buying two of his calls. I looked at his setup and thought, 'I can do this!'" Ammons, an attorney, has always been wildly artistic. "I like working with my hands. I love to draw and to bake, and I can fix almost anything around the house. I knew I could make duck calls."
In the beginning, Ammons starting making Reelfoot Lake style calls, similar to Reed. He eventually switched to Arkansas-style calls, better suiting his taste. His calls would blow, but they didn't sound quite right. "I decided if I wanted to become a better duck caller, I needed to enter some contests. The first contest I entered I came in dead last," he smiles. "I had no idea you had to have a routine! Boy did I learn. From there, I started learning routines and calling in more contests. I actually won one in Tennessee. After that, whenever Heblon and I hunted together, he would look at me and say, 'You call them!'" Ammons had turned a corner.
I remember as a child listening to the echo of my dad blowing his duck call every night in the garage. Night after night he practiced and perfected his routines. He began meeting call makers across the country at duck calling contests, forming friendships and collecting calls. "To me they are a work of art and something that you actually use. I probably collected from thirty different call makers," he reflects. "I started refining what I was doing and met a man named Roy Rhodes, who had his own call making company and won a world championship calling contest in Stuttgart, Arkansas. He helped me get the most and best sound out of a call."
Ammons is an attorney by day and continues making duck calls as a hobby in his workshop. He dubbed his calls Half Moon, because of the barrel shape. "A lot of makers make a round portion of the call just after the brass ring. I didn't want mine to look like every other call, so I starting shaving out the back half of the round portion of the call and it looked like a half moon."
Half Moon duck calls are created out of wood and sometimes acrylic. "My favorite material is wood, and I love the cocobolo out of Mexico. You have to have a hard surface for the reed to vibrate against, so I use the hardest woods." Ammons' Half Moon calls are also award-winning. "A few years ago, there was a call makers contest in the state of Mississippi. I submitted my call and they blew and judged it. I won the Hunter's Division for the state of Mississippi for my call in sound and quality," says Ammons.
Today, Ammons only has time to create a few handmade duck calls a year, but he continues to have a passion for the process and the beautiful result. "It is not a simple little instrument. If you shave off 1/1000th of an inch, it is going to sound different. All handmade call makers will tell you that they all sound a little bit different."
If you are interested in purchasing a Half Moon duck call, please email Clifford Ammons at email@example.com