Publisher’s note: Very few people really impress me. I’ve never been one to ‘oooh and awe’ over someone famous; they all put one foot in front of the other and nobody flies without help. Until today. When I met Christian Brown, I was so utterly humbled by a young man who had given so much to his country and to the people of this country. Still he smiles, and still he helps others. HE is impressive. Thank you, sir, for your courage, your honor, your military service and the service you continue to do for your fellows in service. We look forward to seeing your success with Hero Calls and every other endeavor that you embark upon.
Cypress had the opportunity to sit down with Corporal Christian Brown, Marine, and creator of Hero Calls. He is a Veteran of Afghanistan and a double amputee.
“On Dec 13, 2011 I was on a normal combat patrol, on advance, where we had already been. I stepped on an IED - a homemade explosive with a pressure plate. It’s instant, you don’t know what happens.” Brown continued, “They took me by helicopter and I was out for two months in a coma - the Docs kept me that way so I wouldn’t move. I was in the hospital for three years and some change, then spent 6-7 months in-patient rehab, followed by 2 months in outpatient care on the base. Then I got to come home.” Corporal Brown, ‘CB’, is from Munford. “It’s a great community, always good to be from a place that supports you like it has.”
“I’d always been a hunter, my whole life, getting back helped me get through.” Brown expanded on how he started making duck calls, “I had nothing to do, and I wanted something to do. I’d always been into calls, so I ordered all the stuff and watched a lot of Youtube videos and figured it out - it was a lot of trial and error, not having a teacher. I had to figure out where I messed up.”
“Which call is my favorite? With all of the variations, it’s hard to have a favorite...add metal, acrylic, wood…and this one’s my new favorite!” Brown laughed. “People are receptive, I get orders on my Facebook page, sell them at Haddad’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse in Southaven and I’m taking orders - the future is where it takes me!”
Brown made sure that he was making a good call before he actually sent them out. He did his homework, but it took him about two years to get it perfect, to get his sweet sound, “The best satisfaction is fooling the animal into thinking you’re one of them - that’s when all the hard work comes to fruition.”
Acrylic, wood, compressed wood, custom designs, and single or double barrell calls are available. “But I don’t use an insert inside the calls, I’ve taken it to the next level - it’s my sound, not piggybacking off of someone else’s skills. I’m making the reeds.” Brown added, “It’s an art form and I’ve gotten into it and the history of calls, I have a duck call collection. The dynamics, the styles, it’s all changed through the years.”
The wood for a call can be super pressurized and laced with acrylic, which gives it more density and a better sound, as well as being water resistant. Straight acrylic can also be used. “You can get wood from other call makers, online or going out to harvest your own,” Brown continued as he showed us the wood that he had harvested, “I use wood from a hedge apple tree - Bois d’Arc. It burns harder, slower than oak. It works better, but it takes three saw blades to cut down one tree - extremely dense. I also get wood from other places, like this Cocobolo, a South American tree, it’s crosscut against the grain.” Brown showed us several varieties of wood, acrylic blocks, all with designs hidden inside to discover.
We watched Brown carve out a call from acrylic. Streams of confetti and streamers from the acrylic block shot all over him as he worked to get the call right…He stopped to coat the call with transmission fluid to keep it going and cool and clean from debris. His friend from boot camp Nicholas Decampo and fiancee Ashly Blachian are visiting from New York. Brown asks Nick, “Hand me that green hammer, that’ll be good. I thought I was going to be macho, not get safety glasses,” he grinned, “then a piece hit me in the forehead at about 30mph. I called Amazon that minute.” He shook his head, checked the pressure and motioned for me to come see another, old fashioned call. “This is made from wood with a little bit of metal in it, really pretty.” What Brown calls really pretty is absolutely beautiful. The wood itself is like a glowing, living thing after he applies a master’s hand.
Brown checks the call he is currently making with a micrometer gauge to make sure he doesn’t overshoot the size it should be. “When I started, I’d have a whole box of calls sitting beside me that weren’t quite right. I’d start over. I don’t want people to get a call, look at someone else’s call and say ‘mine’s 4x bigger - what the heck happened?’ My OCD kicks in - I want them to be different enough to know that they are handmade, but alike enough to know they are mine.”
We watch his hands guiding an ordinary block of acrylic into a thing of beauty, he turns the block with soft scraping sounds, using ever smaller tools to make sure it’s perfect. After its rough cut, it needs to be polished and Brown starts with 150 grit sandpaper, again moving to different grits until it has a fine gloss. Then he starts the fine tuning, explaining “It’s time consuming - but that’s what makes these awesome. I really want the mouthpiece to be comfortable, to fit the mouth well.”
Brown is making this call for friends of his Lieutenant in Afghanistan. “I’m hunting for the ridges, now.” He carves out the inside of the barrell slowly with a precision bit, slow rotations - it keeps air going over the reed to make a sound. “It drives me crazy when there are scratches in the barrell.”
“All right, last piece of grit,” Brown smiled. He burns the polish in and as gently as if he were touching a baby, he then pulls the finished piece off his lathe.
“I can make about 20 calls in a week when I’m turning,” Brown laughed, “But I do have other things to do, too.” Eventually, Brown would like to expand, hire people and train them. “I’d like to get a three phase machine - already learning that.” Brown and Delcampo are also checking off things on their bucket lists, “We were going into special forces before I got blown up - going after what I wanted to do before and making it happen. I’m getting dive certified.” Delcampo added, “We’re going to dive to see the great whites,” Brown shook his head, “I’m not sure about the sharks.”
Brown gives credit to his ‘call nutz’ family. “Without the older generation that makes calls that have helped me when I had questions or problems, I wouldn’t be this far along. I’d also like to thank Mark Hoke, my mentor, who basically got me out of the hospital and back into what I love doing.
Brown has had help from several organizations, Operation Second Chance for Vets, Semper Fi Fund, Hope for the Warriors who helped build and outfit his shop to help make his calls, and friends in the Marines and in the community.