Rich-N-Tone founder teaches duck talk

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published April 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 26, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.
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Nick Hillemann

Rich-N-Tone creator Butch Richenback, left, teaches Chesney Hendricks the proper teqhnique for “the quack,” the first step in learning to call ducks.

— You might not be shocked by something like this in Stuttgart, the Rice and Duck Capital of the World, where duck hunting is second only to religion in numbers of followers. Normally, however, a “quack, quack, quack” is not what a person would expect to hear when walking into church. That will be the case, though, every Tuesday night into October at the Cabot Church of Christ.

Butch Richenbach, founder of the Stuttgart-based Rich-N-Tone duck calls, is giving calling lessons to people in the Cabot area just because of the passion he has for the sport.

“I drive from Stuttgart every Tuesday,” Richenbach said. “I’m teaching them how to blow a duck call, and that’s not something that happens quickly.”

Richenbach’s calls have won the World’s Champion Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart numerous times. When a contestant using one of his calls wins the competition, Richenbach said, he tries to stay back and let the contest winner have his or her moment.

“It’s their day, not mine,” Richenbach said. “I don’t blow the duck call; I just teach them how.”

He sold his first duck call in 1976, and he hand-carved his duck calls until 1994.

“I was taught [how to duck call] when I was 5,” Richenbach said. “It’s just the way I was raised.”

Though he is now retired from making duck calls, he still goes to his shop every day and teaches duck-calling clinics when he can.

This is the first year for Richenbach to teach duck-calling classes at the Cabot Church of Christ, but he teaches a clinic in Stuttgart every year, he said.

“I’m supposed to only have 50 people in the class, but I don’t ever stop it there. I usually end up with 60 to 70 people every year,” Richenbach said.

He doesn’t only teach duck calling in person; he has found other ways to teach the pursuit.

“I teach over the telephone,” Richenbach said.

One of his students was a boy in Utah whom Richenbach taught how to duck call correctly via the phone, Richenbach said.

Simone Leatherberry, a member of the Cabot Church of Christ, helped put together Richenbach’s duck-calling classes at the church.

She said Richenbach hasn’t asked for any type of payment for teaching the classes.

“We told him we would give him gas money, but he wouldn’t take it,” Leatherberry said. “He’s even given the kids some duck calls if they didn’t have one.”

Leatherberry said her husband had been talking to Richenbach about how kids don’t learn the proper way to duck call anymore.

“He wanted to teach them the correct way to do it,” Leatherberry said.

The classes aren’t limited to kids or members of the Cabot Church of Christ. There are three different groups: beginner, intermediate and contest callers. There are about 10 men who want to do competition duck calling, Leatherberry said.

“There might be a world champion in [this class],” Richenbach said.

Leatherberry said the classes will last into October, when the duck hunting and duck-calling competition seasons begin.

Richenbach’s classes are held from 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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