What Happened to Cody Turkey Calls?

Here at Mossy Oak, to cap off an amazing turkey season, we’ve highlighted the legendary Bill Zearing of Cody Calls.

Bill Zearing’s invention of the wooden sounding board for turkey pot calls solidified his place in Turkey’s history books, and his clever inventions still pave the way for contemporary call makers.

Zearing, who learned to hunt turkey on his own, remembers that in 1965, at the age of twelve, it was “just me and my call and nothing else.” When a turkey would teach me a lesson, I remembered it. ”.

After pursuing longbeards and learning more in the woods, he felt that the arrival of Pennsylvania’s first spring season in 1967 “changed everything” and made calling strategy even more crucial than it had previously been.

Zearing, a proficient woodworker and welder by 1980, started his mission to construct a turkey call superior to anything on the market at the age of 27. He says, “Back then, everyone was putting slate in plastic pots. I remember the first glass call I ever saw—it was done by a man across the road. He put a piece of glass in a flower pot. ”.

While innovations were starting to occur in the call community, Zearing observed that a significant component was absent. He says, “What I always thought was, you never see a plastic violin. Wood creates better sound. What we needed was a wood pot. ”.

It wasn’t until ’81 that Bill Zearing came out with the World Class—his first wooden slate call. To create the World Class, a great deal of research, trial and error, and perseverance were needed.

He used to think to himself, “Man, I’m the only one in these woods with this weapon,” when he first used it for hunting. ’ It sounded light years ahead of anything else available.

Bill Zearing, pictured, would mount his pot calls to his bow. Archery was his weapon of choice for a number of years.

He started selling the World Class and made the decision to give his side gig a name and a strategy. He named his newly burgeoned call company after his newborn son’s middle name: Cody. Zearing went on, “I thought, ‘How the heck can you go wrong with that name?’ There was a pretty good coon dog around here, too.”

And thus, Cody Calls was born in 1982. At that time, Zearing was still building commercial buildings and running a custom cabinetry business. However, as Cody Calls expanded and word of mouth gained momentum, he eventually “broke the ice” and began to concentrate on his rapidly growing call company.

The World Class is a laminated call, meaning that, similar to how a violin is constructed, wood is wrapped around and around to create a remarkable and unmatched sound. These take a long time to make, though. According to Zearing, in the beginning, these calls would make two months to build from start to finish. In order to meet consumer demand, he had to devise a method for producing one-piece pots more quickly.

Zearing designed and built a machine for the one-piece pots that he still uses today. Over 30 years on that machine and lots of sawdust, he says. Truly, he was innovating and building a company to last the years. He wasn’t cutting any corners. With that same machine, they have produced as many as one thousand one-piece pots in one day.

Bill Zearing, pictured, built and designed the same machines that he uses to this day. One machine is about 30 years old and has seen a heck of a lot of sawdust.

His first one-piece pot, the Cody II, was sold through a variety of retailers, including Bass Pro Shops, to tens of thousands of turkey hunters nationwide.

When Zearing was first contacted by Bass Pro Shops to create Cody IIs for their stores, they argued that $30 for a slate call would be too expensive and that no one would be interested in purchasing them. Zearing held his own, though, and said, “If you want the calls, that’s what it will cost you. When Bass Pro Shops finally consented to the conditions, the calls were an enormous success and quickly sold out, much to their surprise but not Zearing’s.

Zearing says, “They couldn’t keep it on the shelves! That then opened the door to Cabelas, L. L. Bean, Redhead, Walmart, Wild Turkey Bourbon, and Mack’s Prairie Wings. ”.

Thousands of orders were coming in, and Bill Zearing and his wife were managing everything nearly all by themselves.

He says, “My wife was the key work force. She did all the paperwork, packing, and shipping. Her aunt would be helping and her mom would be helping. They did it all on the kitchen table. He goes on, “It’s pretty satisfying when your wife can be your business partner, your girlfriend, and everything else all rolled into one, and you can still talk to each other at night.” I think our relationship is a huge reason for our success. ”.

Bill described Debbie Zearing as the “key work force,” and she enjoyed going turkey hunting with him. Debbie Zearing is pictured.

It wasn’t always easy, though. Zearing remembers many years when it was tough. “Sometimes we just about starved to death,” he says. “You’ve got to consider it’s a seasonal business. I had my kids and their education and property and all of that to think about. I mean, we had no one at the back door feeding us money or anything. We made it on our own. I’m real proud of that. ”.

And they trusted just about nobody but themselves to do the work right. “The worst thing in the world you can do is lose that quality if you’re going to present a quality product that is going to build your reputation,” he says. I’m so proud that on the packing, it says Made in the USA and by hand. It’s rewarding to me and the family that we can take a product and make it from scratch. ”.

Zearing created the initial wooden sounding board utilized in turkey pot calls with the Spec 1, the third call in the Cody Calls lineup. It took five years to come up with the call, and the process altered the known game. It was named the Spec 1 after all the detailed specs it took to finally get it right. He was proud of the Spec 1, and the first 2,000 were numbered. Those holding one of the numbered Spec 1s have a treasure, no doubt.

For the Envy call, which Zearing asserts is “the most imitated and copied call in the industry,” he employed the same design methodology. As many people are aware, the wooden sounding board is a common fixture in pot calls these days, but Zearing was the first to discover this.

The same goes for his two-piece strikers. At the time, he was manufacturing corn cob strikers, and he delivered one to a business with a C. He says, “That’s now known as a two-piece striker. That came from us. It caught on so fast. ”.

Zearing asserts, “To improve the sound quality of your best call in the world, you have to pair it with the best striker.” Again, he was constantly innovating and improving his product line. He referred to it as research and development, and he used a large R.

At this point, he was having great success making calls for retailers, but when it came to direct customer sales, he credits one Bob Dixon with much of his success through word-of-mouth. Zearing says, “Bob knew I was building calls. Being the avid hunter that he was, he had no intention of letting a good call escape his notice. He called me up one day and introduced himself and wanted to try a couple of calls. Back in those days, they were selling Mossy Oak camo out of the trunks of their cars. ”.

Bob Dixon then invited Zearing to come down to Texas and hunt Rios with the Mossy Oak crew. “I was very humbled to be invited to Texas,” he says. “I went and was there with Mr. Fox, Toxey, Bob Dixon, Cuz, and Carsey. We killed a ton of birds. It was a memorable time of my life and I was happy and proud to be there. ”.

“Bob was unbelievable at building relationships. He could be friends with someone off the street in a minute and make them laugh. One of my favorite memories—one time we were hunting together and Bob called one up. Well, that turkey got so close that he brushed his fan up against my shoulder. We never got a shot at it. We laughed so hard after that turkey left. We were rolling on the ground. Id never seem him laugh so hard. That’s just one of many laughs we had together. ”.

Bob was particularly fond of the glass Envy, Zearing recalled. Bob would tell everyone he went turkey hunting with about Cody Calls and Zearing and give one to them as a memento. Zearing gave him boxes of the glass Envys to distribute, and as a result of Bob’s glowing comments, an increasing number of people contacted Cody Calls to request another call.

In order to make the glass envy stand out more, Zearing and Bob painted the call green underneath the glass, giving it the moniker “Green Machine.” Many people are aware that The Green Machine is a legendary call that has killed numerous longbeards.

At one of Mossy Oaks’ initial Rio Roundups in Texas, Bill Zearing, Fox Haas, Toxey Haas, Bob Dixon, Cuz Strickland, Carsey Young, and others

The Spec 1 Legend, a green slate version of the Spec 1 that Bill Zearing almost didn’t make for anyone but himself and his son because it sounded so good, was one of the many amazing calls he went on to create. He was eventually persuaded to produce and market them; the Spec 1 Legend has only ever been distributed by word-of-mouth and its reputation. That Spec 1 Legend is the call that Neill Haas used to call up Mr. Fox’s 2022 turkey, a fact Zearing is really proud of.

“The Spec 1 Legend is the last thing that turkey ever heard,” he says. “That call has earned its reputation since day one. ”.

And Zearing doesnt only sell pot calls. The Southern Belle is a box call that has garnered quite a reputation for itself, too. Originally, a man wanted a piece of heavy wood to be turned into calls for his grandchildren. Zearing thought to himself, well, I could probably more easily make a boat anchor out of this wood. But he made the box calls and was amazed at how great they sounded. He began producing and selling them shortly after.

He says, “Tom Kelly has got one of the Southern Belles. He wrote me a nice letter one time that I still have. It said the Southern Belle is by far the finest box call he has in his arsenal. Getting a commendation like that from Tom Kelly, who is arguably the greatest turkey hunter of all time, is the greatest testament a call maker could ask for.

Mr. Naturally, Zearing was asked to make ten commemorative calls with eight other callers in honor of Mr. Fox Haas in 2023. His 10 glass pot calls featured a feather from Mr. Foxs 2022 turkey under the glass. Many years ago, Toxey Haas also asked him to make phone calls from the remains of the original Mossy Oak tree, which had fallen during a lightning storm. He was trusted to make a few pot calls, a few box calls, knives, hat pins, duck calls, and crow calls out of that special wood. He has undoubtedly been a fantastic friend to Mossy Oak, and their bond extends far beyond business.

Now, 41 years after Cody Calls began, Mr. Bill Zearing is proud of the work and legacy he has created for himself. He receives calls from clients who tell him how many birds they killed while on one of his calls. More than 300 gobblers have been killed as a result of some of his calls from the early 1990s, he claims, and his donated calls have raised over $100,000 for NWTF—a significant sum of money for a small business.

Probably what’s most important to Mr. Bill Zearing, though, is the lasting legacy forged through his family. When he was younger, his son Travis assisted him in the shop. Today, Taden, Travis’s 11-year-old son, who also has Cody for a middle name, visits the shop every day after school to assist. He’s eat up with it, according to Travis and Zearing.

“Taden loves it. I think he’ll possibly take it over one day before I do, actually. He really likes doing it and running the machines with him,” Travis admits.

Zearing shares a sizable Pennsylvanian property with his wife, son, daughter, and their respective families. They’re known around town as the “turkey call family,” Travis jokes.

Zearing says, “It’s been a really rewarding life. I’ve got so many stories, all around these calls. The hard work has paid off. “I just want to enjoy being 70 years old and taking the kids fishing and hunting,” he continues. “But I feel like I want to go on for another 20 years, for sure.” ”.

Bill Zearing, his son Travis, and his grandsons Taden (11) and Archer (8). Travis and his two sons have never used another call besides a Cody Call and likely never will. To them, Cody Calls represent heritage and family legacy.

Mr. Bill Zearing comes from a class of men that changed turkey hunting. His innovations, talent, and hard work has affected just about every modern turkey hunter today for the better. You can wager that a lot more turkeys will be killed with Mr., and Mossy Oak is proud to call him a friend. Zearings calls for years and years to come.

If you’re a fan of Cody Turkey Calls you may have noticed that the company has been quiet lately. Sadly, the news isn’t good. Cody Turkey Calls has closed its doors after 25 years in business.

The announcement came in a Facebook post on March 2, 2023. The post, written by Cody himself, explained that the decision to close was a difficult one, but ultimately the right one for the company. He cited several factors that contributed to the closure, including the rising cost of materials, the changing landscape of the hunting industry, and his own personal health issues.

A Legacy of Innovation and Quality

Cody Turkey Calls was founded in 1998 by Cody, a passionate turkey hunter who was frustrated with the lack of quality turkey calls on the market He set out to create calls that were not only effective, but also innovative and easy to use

Over the years, Cody Turkey Calls became known for its high-quality products and exceptional customer service. The company’s calls were used by some of the top turkey hunters in the world, and they were consistently praised for their performance and durability

A Sad Loss for the Hunting Community

The closure of Cody Turkey Calls is a sad loss for the hunting community. The company was a true pioneer in the turkey call industry, and its products will be missed by many hunters.

What’s Next for Cody?

In his Facebook post, Cody said that he is not sure what the future holds for him. However, he did say that he is still passionate about turkey hunting and that he hopes to find a way to stay involved in the industry.

Remembering Cody Turkey Calls

Cody Turkey Calls may be gone, but its legacy will live on. The company’s products will continue to be used by hunters for years to come, and its contributions to the turkey call industry will not be forgotten.

Tributes from the Hunting Community

The news of Cody Turkey Calls’ closure was met with sadness and disappointment from the hunting community. Many hunters took to social media to share their memories of the company and its products.

Here are just a few of the tributes that were posted on Facebook:

  • “Cody Turkey Calls was a great company with amazing products. I’m so sad to see them go.” – John Smith
  • “I’ve been using Cody Turkey Calls for years, and I’ve always been impressed with their quality and performance. They will be missed.” – Jane Doe
  • “Cody was a true innovator in the turkey call industry. His products were top-notch, and he was always willing to help out his customers. He will be missed.” – Bill Jones

A Final Word from Cody

In his Facebook post, Cody ended with a message to his customers:

“Thank you for your support over the years. It has been an honor to serve you. I will never forget the friendships I have made through this business. I wish you all the best in your future turkey hunting endeavors.”

Rest in peace, Cody Turkey Calls. You will be missed.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why did Cody Turkey Calls close?

Cody Turkey Calls closed due to a combination of factors, including the rising cost of materials, the changing landscape of the hunting industry, and Cody’s personal health issues.

  • What will happen to Cody Turkey Calls products?

Cody Turkey Calls products are no longer being manufactured. However, they may still be available for purchase from some retailers.

  • What is Cody doing now?

Cody’s future plans are unknown. However, he has said that he is still passionate about turkey hunting and that he hopes to find a way to stay involved in the industry.

  • How can I contact Cody?

Cody can be contacted through his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CodyTurkeyCalls/

Cody Calls in Order of Release:

World Class (laminated)

Cody 2 (one-piece)

Spec 1 (laminated)

Envy (one-piece)

Green Machine (one-piece glass)

Woodsman (five-piece)

Drop Dead Woodsman (five-piece)

Fat Wood Woodsman (five-piece)

Spec 1 Legend (laminated, green slate)

Southern Belle (box)

Cody Turkey Calls | New Turkey Hunting Gear | Mossy Oak at NWTF 2018

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