Editor’s Note: Johnny Stewart started talking to animals because he wanted to draw them close to him to photograph them and hunt them. To learn the language of the animals, Johnny Stewart began to capture wild animals and record their sounds. He also tried to determine what influence their languages had on each other and on other animals species. From his research and his recordings, we now have the Johnny Stewart Calls that are a part of Hunter’s Specialties. Many people don’t know that the Johnny Stewart Calls not only are very effective for calling in all types of predators to their guns, but also will call in these animals to be photographed. Here to tell you about Johnny Stewart and how he developed his calls is Gerald Stewart of Waco, Texas, Johnny’s son, who’s inherited wisdom and knowledge about animals from his father.
Question: When and why did your dad start recording animal sounds?
Stewart: He started recording animal sounds in 1961. When I was a youngster, we had a pet chicken. A raccoon came into the chicken yard and mauled the chicken. Dad wasn’t able to get outside quick enough to save the chicken, before the coon killed it. The next two nights while Dad waited with his gun to kill the coon that had killed our chicken, he started thinking about the screams the chicken made when the raccoon was trying to kill it. Dad got to thinking that if he could record the sounds of that screaming chicken, maybe he could use those sounds to call in foxes, bobcats and coons and shoot them before they got to our chickens. That desire became the fire in his belly and caused him to begin recording the sounds of the prey that predators wanted to kill and eat.
Eventually Dad was so fascinated with the different sounds that animals made, and how they could be used to call in other animals, that he recorded over 100 animal sounds. Dad had a successful flying service and really didn’t want to start a call company. He just wanted to come up with a way to keep our chickens from getting killed. Dad thought he had an original idea, but when he started to research predator calling, he found other people had starting calling predators before he had. However, he was so enthused about making high-quality recordings of animal sounds that he spent 3 years recording his first 10 sounds. The chicken was the very first sound he recorded. I have a picture of the first bobcat he called in with his chicken sounds.
Question: How long did your dad record animal sounds?
Stewart: He began recording them in 1961, and he recorded his last sound two months before he died in 1987.
Question: With all the changes in recording technology, why are the Johnny Stewart Calls and the recordings your dad made so many years ago still the standard of the industry?
Stewart: Dad wasn’t just interested in recording animal sounds. He wanted to record those sounds as cleanly, as purely and as realistically as possible with the technology he had. Dad went out and caught animals and recorded the distress sounds they made in a variety of different ways. I was a child back then, and I helped him make his recordings. I also took care of many of the animals he brought in from the field, while Dad developed the technology to record those animals and reproduce the sounds they made.
Dad had been a radio operator in the Solomon Islands during World War II. He was a pilot, and he always had a fascination with technology. He brought the latest and best technology he could find to his recording business. That’s the reason that those sounds he recorded all those years ago are still as good, as clean and as effective as they are today. Every time a new innovation was made or a better recorder was introduced, Dad bought it to record the animal sounds. He demanded perfection from himself and everyone else when he recorded the sounds of animals. He wanted to build the best line of animal sounds in the entire calling industry. That was his goal and his mission. And today Hunter’s Specialties PreyMaster uses these sounds.
Today, the Johnny Stewart Calls have provided the hunter and the photographer 45 years worth of sounds that consistently have been successful in calling animals in the field for photography and/or hunting. All the sounds have stayed clean and clear throughout the changes that have been made in calling equipment to play those sounds. We have sounds that will call in songbirds for bird watchers and photographers and sounds that will call in moose, elk, coyotes and javelinas (a pig-like animal native to the southwestern U.S.).
Our sounds run the gamut of domestic-animal sounds to wildlife sounds. We have sounds that make animals want to come in to eat, to fight, and/or to mate. So many times people who purchase the Johnny Stewart Calls don’t realize the depth and breadth of the many different sounds that are available to call in so many different types of animals. If you’re interested in calling animals to hunt or photograph, go to our website at www.johnnystewart.com, and look at the broad number of different calls you can use to call in many animals that you may not be aware of that can be called.