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Stuttgart’s passion for duck hunting: a regional custom and popular tourist destination



Stuttgart, Arkansas – The eastern Arkansas city of Stuttgart is most often referred to as the “city of duck hunting.”

Since the 1930s, duck call competitions and hunters have traveled from all over the world to this location.

John Stephens, president of Rich N’ Tone Duck Calls, was up in Stuttgart and has always had a passion for duck hunting.

My family farmed and that is how I got into hunting,” said Stephens. “I loved it ever since I was a little kid and I couldn’t wait to go. The opening day of the duck season is like Christmas to me. It was just so exciting every year.”

He added that duck hunting is a way of life in Stuttgart.

That is how our community is. It kind of revolves around duck hunting,” said Stephens. “It is our time of the year where Stuttgart really shines. We have the World Duck Calling contest here so it is really easy to like duck season when you are from Stuttgart.”

Since the 1930s, Stuttgart has served as the contest’s home, and Stephens participated in his first duck-hunting tournament while still in the second grade.

In the sport, he is currently a three-time world champion and a champion of champions.

“It is three rounds, 90 seconds is what your routine is,” said Stephens. “You have a routine that is a hale car, a feed call, a comeback call, and a lonesome hen. If you’re into duck hunting, it is a really cool thing. If it is not, it is probably not something you want to sit and listen to for three hours but it is a big part of what we do here in Stuttgart.”

However, Stephens runs Rich N’ Tone Duck Calls and makes his own duck calls when he’s not in the duck blinds.

“We were going to make it an actual profession for ourselves to make calls at a volume to have income for ourselves,” said Stephens. “Once we got that established, I have been able to go back and start J. Stephens Calls which are all made by hand. I don’t take any orders. That was the real reason why I got into it in the first place because I like making the calls by hand.”

He claimed he enjoys how duck season breathes new energy into the city and that he makes it a point to not miss a day of it.

“I laugh when people ask, ‘How many days do you duck hunt a year,’ and I say, ‘Well, how many days are there?’,” Stephens said. “It really makes our community special and a draw for people to visit, especially during duck season. That is Stuttgart’s time to shine and if there is not a better time to shine it is during duck season.”

November 19 is the start of duck season, and over Thanksgiving weekend, at the 88th annual Wings over the Prairie Festival in downtown Stuttgart, the World Duck Calling Championship will be held.


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