Call of the Wild

Sean Mann captures lifelong love in hunting business

By Magazine staff  |  Photos courtesy of Sean Mann
Sean Mann with ducks

Sean Mann, ’84, was riding in his father’s car when he first heard the honking of a goose. In tears, the child—3 or 4 at the time—begged his dad to pull over so he could listen.

“The voice of a goose was absolutely far and away beyond anything that came out of a radio or a stereo. As much as I enjoyed manmade music, the music of nature was like a two-by-four to the forehead,’” he said. “It was the music of my life.”

Trying to replicate that voice became a personal quest—and ultimately a career—as Mann started creating manmade tools trying to capture the goose’s pure tones.

Today, as owner and founder of Sean Mann Outdoors, Mann produces duck and goose calls for stores including Bass Pro and Gander Mountain, also selling through his Web site.

But even with an international business that takes him to Canada for two months of the year, Mann is often found blowing on a call, tweaking and perfecting the design. “All I’ve ever wanted to do is make something that sounded alive, that sounded like that first time I heard a goose,” he said. “I’ll never tire of the sounds of nature.”

Hunting for a Passion

As a 5-year-old in Trappe, Md., on the Eastern Shore, Mann started goose hunting with his father, who ran a gun store and hobby shop. There Mann found his passion. “If Dad was into dominoes or tiddlywinks, then that’s probably what it would be. When I was a kid—and even to this day, now that he’s gone—my dad was always next to God, the hero of my life.”
At 15, when Mann realized people would pay for a guide to take them hunting, he talked his way into a weekend job—work he used to pay for college.

When he started at Loyola in 1981, however, Mann’s sights were on law school. He majored in English and philosophy and worked as a resident assistant.

“I was amazed at the amount of respect that the faculty treated the students with,” Mann said. “It was an incredible launching pad for my sense of self-worth. Who ever would have thought of continuing this wacky pursuit of this waterfowl stuff if they hadn’t been given some sense of ability?”

Home for the local Waterfowl Festival his freshman year, Mann went to watch a goose calling championship, ended up on stage—and came in fourth in the world. Since then, he has won two World Goose Calling Championships, three Mason-Dixon Regional Duck Calling Championships, and the first-ever World Goose Calling Champion of Champions Contest, which is only open to World Champions.

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