The Sauvie Island Widgeon Whistle

About Jerry Ronne, Designer

Jerry RonneEven the fog seems exhausted as Jerry Ronne approaches the end of his final duck-hunting season as an assistant area manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. By 5:30 a.m., the staff is wearily wandering into the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area check station. Ronne, under a sign declaring him "Eastside Guru," keeps up a steady stream of banter with the familiar veteran hunters coming and going from the window. The assistant area manager will retire at the end of June after 45 years with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 43 of them spent on Sauvie Island. It is believed to be one of, if not the, longest run of continuous employment in the department.

And thousands of hunters -- men, women, immigrants, youngsters -- are better off because he was on the island. Over the decades, Ronne, 67, has taught what he learned early on from island residents themselves to those coming up to the window, close to 9,000 each fall season./> Ronne also has been a rudder for five area managers.  "He's a gold mine," said Mark Nebeker, the current area manager, in his 12th year. "I rely on him entirely to tell me what's been tried before, what's worked and hasn't worked."

When he started, the island's popular public lands (purchased by and for public hunters in 1947) brought about 350,000 visits a year.  In 2007, there were 865,000 visits to the area's 12,000 acres, managed to handle about half that number.  Ronne has helped accommodate the increased demand, always assuring duck hunters come first. "Our goal out here is to make sure everyone who comes out has a chance to have a duck dinner," he said.

Ronne has seen the change to nontoxic shot and the disappearance of dead and dying ducks from lead poisoning. Bald eagles and osprey, once victims of DDT, now nest on the area.  And he has helped with youth clinics, built blinds for disabled hunters ... Ronne even taught a deaf hunter to call ducks.  "He could read lips," Ronne said. "And he could feel the right resonance in his sinus ... got to be a fair caller."

With a barely noticeable catch in his throat, Ronne said he will miss interacting with the wide variety of hunters and other visitors.  "It's been a tremendous joy to me to work with the hunters, especially," he said. "The first time one of them came up to the window and said 'Thank you' ... that touched my heart."

What's next?

"Oh, I'll be back," he said (there was that smile again), motioning with a finger outside of the check-station window. "But I'll be out there ... in the line."

Excerpts from: Ronne: Sauvie Island's duck-hunting institution
by Bill Monroe, special to The Oregonian
Friday January 16, 2009, 5:49 PM

Read the full article about Jerry and more from Bill Monroe - Columnist on hunting, fishing, camping and all things outdoors

The Sauvie Island Widgeon Whistle

Sauvie Island Widgeon WhistleThe Sauvie Island Widgeon Whistle was designed to imitate the raspy, wheezy sound of the Widgeon and has proven reliable to waterfowl hunters on the Pacific Flyway for over thirty years.


It is easy to use and doubles as a Pintail and Teal call.


Great for late season use when Mallards become call shy.


Use in combination with a Mallard KumDuck call.


This unique whistle is handmade from spent 12 gauge shotgun shells and other brass components.


Made in Oregon

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