Will Primos crafted his first call in 1963. He was 11 years old.
“I was duck hunting with my Uncle Gus in green timber,” Will says. “Uncle Gus was an expert duck caller, and I was absolutely enthralled hearing him make that call sing. That was my first experience witnessing the magic—and when I got home, I made my own call by copying my uncle’s.”
Now, more than 50 years later, Will Primos is considered one of the most influential call makers of the modern era. And according to him, the art of calling game animals has changed tremendously since those days so long ago.
“First off, the category was ‘game calls’ back then,” he said. “We changed it—to hunting calls.”
That says a lot about where the market was and where it is now. But hunting focus aside, Will said today’s calls and the hunters who employ them have changed quite a bit since he started the company that bears his name.
Today’s hunter is well aware of how effective calls can be. The hunting industry has had a huge impact on that education, and Primos Hunting was on the cutting edge. Way back in 1986, Will decided that people would believe in his product and buy it if they could see it work.
“I had Boyd Burrow come out in the turkey woods with me to create a video showing my calls at work,” he said. “The first video I put out was called Spring Turkey Hunting with Primos.
“My style was to just hunt and be myself. It’s a different way of teaching, but through watching us, people realized ‘I can be more successful if I do this or try that.’”
The success of the video led Primos to create the TRUTH series of videos, which cover every type of hunting. Success with the videos led to television and the Outdoor Channel, where Primos produces the popular show, “Primos’ TRUTH About Hunting.”
“Today’s hunter is certainly more educated,” Primos said. “But we still have work to do. We need to teach them how to be successful and also make calls that are easy to use.
“For example, our Hoochie Mama elk call is No. 1 in the category because it’s easy to use and it sounds great. But the key is knowing how to set up. The tendency is to have the caller too close. You want to have that call 80 or 100 yards behind the hunter. We’re teaching that.”
Primos Hunting grabbed momentum by focusing its business on multiple lines for a variety of game species. As Primos has added calls, it has also improved materials and technology. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of the workmanship.
To this day, Will still checks the quality of the calls coming out of the factory.
“We have a team of employees who come sit in my office and lay out a sampling of calls, and we check them to see that they’ve maintained the quality we started with,” he said. “There are certain things that I will not allow to be removed from my daily responsibility, because it keeps me in touch with the grassroots of the company.
“We understand calls. We understand what makes a good sound and how to create that product, because we are our own customers. We love to hunt and want to be successful at it. Our calls add to our success rate in the field.”
This also means Team Primos has the ability to recognize a good idea when they see it.
“Consumer feedback plays a huge part,” Will said. “Many, many ideas have come to us from the public. I’ve bought a lot of good ideas, too. Of course, there were some I believed in that didn’t work. But that’s all part of it.”
Innovation in engineering has also led to better calls and new designs. Injection molding, over-molding, CNC machining, computer-aided drafting and machinery have all advanced call design.
Engineers who pour their heart into the products they design have played a huge part. For example, Primos’ new Hook Up box call uses an innovative set of magnets that connect the box and lid automatically, placing just the right amount of pressure on the calling surface and making it easy to use, with a rich, natural sound.
“Our product design engineer Anthony Foster thought of that,” Will said. “It’s been really well-received because it’s so easy to use. It’s great for someone who is just staring out.”
Today, Will said innovations in the call market might be coming faster than ever before. The rise of 3D printers has given call makers, both big and small, the ability to create prototypes faster and with less expense.
“We have the ability to design a call, print it, and test it for a season,” he said.
Faster prototyping means call makers can try more ideas and quickly accelerate innovation.
“A call company’s success comes down to quality, and a belief in what they are doing,” Will said. “Everyone here is a hunter. If we don’t use a product and don’t believe in it, we can’t market it. If it’s not our heart and soul, we aren’t going to do it.”