I grew up in a small town in Minnesota just outside of Minneapolis. Without much duck hunting available and being heavily involved in athletics during high school I always treasured our annual 5 day family duck hunt to South Dakota with my dad Jeff and brother Chris, my grandpa Frank, and my Uncle Tim.
While attending Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota I had the wonderful opportunity of spending much more time with my Grandfather, as well as being able to hunt more.
When I was a junior in college my grandfather’s health started to go downhill as a result of adult-onset diabetes, osteoporosis, a weak heart, and other maladies. It was in this year of 1995 that my grandfather asked me if I could help him finish up the last 15 percent of the call making process to fill all of the orders he had taken for the year. Grandpa would teach me a particular step in the process, I would practice many times as he watched closely, I would then move on to the actual calls that were being completed, still under his watchful eye. Soon the orders for 1995 were complete. Everyone assumed those would be the last of the Heidelbauer calls ever made.
My grandfather was a very generous and giving man, and rarely was he ever able to say “no” to anyone. This in addition to a slight upward turn in health, was once again taking orders for The Mallard Toller duck calls. When I returned to Augustana College for my senior year, he called me and said, “I’ve got a bunch more orders. Will you help me again, as there’s no way I can do it alone.” I agreed and we were in business again. This time, I learned every single process from start to finish. I had always heard of the long and tedious house my grandfather put into his calls, but now I was discovering First-hand how labor-intensive, yet fun, that it was. We had joined forces to make another year’s worth of calls.
Upon graduating from college, I took a “suit and tie” job. Again, it was assumed the call making business was over. During dinner one evening, I asked if he was still receiving phone calls from people wanting to purchase his duck calls. He indicated he was, and it broke his heart to turn people down. I said, “Let’s do it again!” His eyes lit up realizing that I wanted to continue his business. Soon thereafter, Ducks Unlimited got word of this, and printed a story in DU magazine titled “The Heidelbauer Legacy Continues,” reaching hundreds of thousands of hunters! I soon quit my “suit and tie” job and was a full-time duck call maker. I formed a corporation, added some products and dove in head first. The greatest part, being able to spend most every day with my grandfather for many years.
personally hand-crafted and tuned"
2002 marked the 50th Anniversary of Heidelbauer Wildfowl Calls. I created a special 50th Anniversary Edition of calls. Although my grandfather had not made calls in many years he pitched in a little bit here and there on parts that he still had the physical strength to do. A number of publications and TV shows contacted us to do stories of our 50th Anniversary. Grandpa was thrilled to have seen a 50th year in business.
On November 14, 2002 my Grandpa passed away. I was fortunate and thankful to have learned so many talents from my grandfather. It’s an honor for me to continue with our family business, now in my 26th year as a call maker, and the 69th year of business.
Skills & Trades
“An Amazing call that will bring the birds right to any spread. It’s a thing of beauty!”
“A perfect call to add to any call collection. Thank you Todd for a beautiful piece of art with amazing functionality.”
“Classic call with a beautiful sound, I’ve used my Mallard Toller for 25+ years”
“Absolutely love my Mallard Toller I have had for many many years. Craftmanship and beauty all in one call.”