When he was just 7 years old, Albert Paul was given his first rifle. A token of thanks, the gun was given to him by the school janitor, for helping him load the coal that heated the school. His grandfather taught him how to hunt with his new prize and living in the country in Eden, MS, he was provided with many targets. A High School All-American and former Mississippi State football player, Paul seems to have excelled in all things Southern and manly!
Shortly after marrying his wife, Faye, whom he met while in college, Paul relocated to Greenville. Here he taught high school math and enjoyed turkey hunting. Unable to find “a decent turkey call,” Paul was introduced to Neil Cost, a custom call maker from Greenwood, SC. The pair soon became friends and when Cost started thinking about retiring from his craft he asked Paul to step in as his protégé.
For seven years, Paul mastered his craft, shipping his calls back and forth from Greenville, MS to Greenwood, SC for Neil to critique. After graduating from this apprenticeship, Albert decided to share his new adventure with friends and family.
A high school buddy and fellow Greenville High teacher, Bob Tompkins, suggested putting artwork on the tops of the turkey calls. A renowned Jackson artist, Tompkins painted a majestic turkey head that soon became the emblem of what is now known as Paul’s Calls and he still hand-paints one on each call.
At first, Paul made his workspace out of his children’s playroom after they left for college. Now, he has his own woodshop and studio next to his home in Collinsville, MS. The very involved process of creating the calls begins with air-drying the wood. “It makes better calls than kiln dried,” Paul explains. He uses domestic woods such as Poplar and Cedar as well as imported woods such as Mahogany from Honduras. Black Walnut, often called “snake wood” due to its snakeskin-like pattern, is imported from South America and is the most expensive option. His friends cut wood for him, as do tree surgeons, and some people just like to send him their scraps, making for little overhead.
When the wood is ready, he cuts them into angled blocks and inlays the top, not only to add detail but also to strengthen the wood. He chisels out the center, glues on the bottom, and drills holes in it. After he gets the painted tops back from Bob he seals the finished product. Each call is completely customized – from the type of wood to the tone of the call. Albert also adds a handwritten story on the bottom telling where the wood came from. Each call is completed with the owner’s name, the date, and Albert’s signature. He also makes leather carrying cases lined with wool to ensure the calls don’t make noise as you walk.
“Albert’s abilities are unbelievable. There’s not much that he can’t do. He is probably the finest box call maker in the country and has reached a celebrity status. He is highly sought after from people who want to invite him to come and hunt throughout the country. I am proud to be known as his friend,” says long-time friend and collaborator, Bob Tompkins.
Albert’s calls are so remarkable, he no longer advertises, gaining all of his clients from word-of-mouth. He has even gained the attention of the Smithsonian, as he was asked to display his work at the 31st Annual Festival of American Folklife. Paul has also been commissioned to make calls for several big name companies, such as Under Armour and Schiber. He now has calls in every state of the US, Canada, New Zealand, and even Ireland, which oddly enough doesn’t have turkeys but does have someone that appreciates beautiful craftsmanship.
For more information on these heirloom quality calls, visit www.paulscalls.com.