What is a duck?
It’s both the answer to a “Jeopardy!” TV show question, and something that Pat Peacock of Stuttgart is very good at calling.
“In 78 years Pat Peacock is the only woman to win the Arkansas contest for calling this other bird,” asked Alex Trebek on the May 7, 2014, episode of “Jeopardy!”
Although the World Duck Calling Championships are now entering their 81st year, Pat Peacock is still the only woman to have ever won it. In fact, she won twice. In 1955 and 1956, Peacock earned top honors as the world’s best duck caller.
In the 1950s, female duck calling contestants were a rare sight. “People were surprised,” Peacock said. “Most of the men thought I was cheating.”
Nonetheless, she pressed on, publicly proving her abilities beyond all doubt.
For winning the contest, Peacock received a Pendleton shirt. “That was a rare, expensive item,” Peacock said. “The prizes increased from a trophy to gift certificates and hunting items.”
Peacock isn’t the only family member to maintain an avid interest in duck calling. Her sisters, Dixie Holt and Brenda Cahill, also hold titles, and she was introduced to duck calling by her stepfather, Chick Major.
“He was a real outdoorsman,” Peacock recalled. “He designed and made his own duck caller, and taught me all about calling ducks and contest calling. He took me hunting with him. Our family was invited to Crowley, La., so he could sell some calls, and my mother entered me into a junior contest. I won, and was thus able to enter and win the Junior World’s contest back in Stuttgart.”
Chick Major’s craftsmanship with duck callers proved to be helpful to Peacock’s winning performance at the World’s Champion competition.
“I blew on a bois d’arc wood barrel, and the end piece was maple made specifically for me by Chick,” Peacock said. “I went from Junior to Women’s to World’s to Champion of Champions, and am currently the only woman to have done so.”
“Pat Peacock is a true ambassador to the duck calling world, and to Stuttgart and the Grand Prairie,” said Bethany Hildebrand of the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce. “She continues to be involved in the sport of duck calling, as well as the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest and the Wings Over the Prairie Festival.”
Peacock, who has lived in Stuttgart all her life, plays the piano and enjoys the outdoors when she’s not calling ducks. But duck calling is what sealed her fame, even leading to an appearance on the “What’s My Line?” television show.
Although a world-class caller, Peacock doesn’t keep her expertise to herself. Like her mother and stepfather before her, she enjoys teaching children, hence
carrying on a family tradition.
“Chick Major made specific calls for children to encourage them, and would work with them in perfecting their routines,” said Peacock, whose mother also taught duck calling. “My mother begin teaching a class to children around November of each year, and that tradition still continues.”
The 81st annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest and Wings Over the Prairie Festival will be held in Stuttgart with events starting on Nov. 19. This year, on Friday, Nov. 25, there will be a children’s duck calling class at 10 a.m. for ages 4-8. At 11 a.m., the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest will be open to any high school senior in the United States.
“Ms. Peacock spends countless hours working with children to teach them about the sport of duck calling,” said Hildebrand. “During festival week in Stuttgart, you can find Ms. Pat and her sisters teaching classes to children. For many children, it’s their first experience with a duck call. She works tirelessly to promote her community, and Stuttgart is blessed to have her.”
When asked if she has any advice for girls and women hoping to compete in duck calling, Peacock said, “Practice, practice, practice. Make it fun and believe in it, and you can finish on top and proud of yourself. Enjoy it every minute of the way.”