"He's taught me a lot of what I know, and he's doing what I eventually want to do," said Spivey, a junior in high school whose older sister, Ashley, plays soccer at Maryland.

Shanahan, a two-time international and three-time Maryland duck-calling champion, met Spivey when the two competed at that outdoors show in Harrisburg. Shanahan said when it comes to doing their own calls, that "if I hear something, in 10 or 15 minutes I can figure out how to do it and then I can do it and in 10 or 15 minutes he can figure out how do it, too."

Shanahan said actual duck calling is "essentially painting a picture of why you're out hunting" but in competition, where participants stand behind a partition not visible to the judges, they use what is called a "mainstream" style. It's quite a bit different from what Spivey does when he goes out on the inlet near his house. That's the "meat" style of calling.

"It is more about pushing the call to the limit, but you still have to paint a picture as if the ducks are way out and you're trying to get their attention to bring them in," said Shanahan, who now works for a Michigan-based duck-call manufacturer. "Everything we're doing on a mouth call is simulating hen mallards."

That Spivey has won world titles in both duck and goose calling is rare, according to Shanahan.

"There's a select handful who can do it, but not many," Shanahan said.

Though he has three straight Maryland State Junior Goose Calling Championships in nearby Easton to his name, Spivey is concentrating these days on duck calls. He has won four straight Maryland duck-calling titles, but the big one came last month in Arkansas. It doesn't surprise Butch Richenback, the legendary Arkansas duck caller whose Rich-N-Tone (RNT) call is the most popular and successful on the market.

"He's a good 'lil duck caller," said Richenback, a former mayor of Stuttgart who has been duck-calling for most of his 66 years.

That Spivey won his most recent title using one of Richenback's calls helped them both, given that RNT has won more world titles than any other duck call, and Spivey is building his own reputation and perhaps his own brand one day. Spivey said he has a "relationship" with Richenback's company, though he is not yet sponsored.

"A thousand people might buy his call to go hunting with," Buddy Spivey said. "It's ego, popularity contest. When you win world championships with that call, people want to buy that call to duck hunt."

"If you win a world championship, especially at the next level, you're building your resume," Pam Spivey said recently about her son.

But even their modest son concedes that it does have a little to do with the person blowing the call.

"All calls are just about the same. It's just about making one seem like it's more," Spivey said of the instrument he uses. "You still have to know how to call. They won't do it themselves."

One wall of the basement in the family home is filled with trophies and plaques — as well as several carved and painted wooden ducks given to Spivey for his victories. There are plenty more around the house in closets, and a few that haven't even been taken out of the boxes in which they were shipped. Duck calls in all sizes and colors are strewn everywhere, even in planting pots.

Buddy Spivey, who prefers deer hunting to duck hunting, knows that his teenage son should have plenty of business for years to come.

"There's a lot of duck hunters around here … but not a lot of callers," he said.

Especially one with a world title to his credit.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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