Our biggest news yet: Slayer Calls brings Joe and Cody McCarthy into the blind
By Danielle Higley
Unless you’ve been hiding out under a rock, you know the name Cody McCarthy. He’s currently the world elk calling champion. He’s also, most recently, the new coach and head of product innovation at Slayer Calls.
We’re happy to have Cody as part of our team. We are also thrilled to welcome his father, Joe McCarthy, as our product innovation lead. If you’ve been hoping to see something truly revolutionary come out of Slayer Calls, rest assured the best is yet to come.
Introducing Joe and Cody McCarthy
The McCarthys’ competitive spirit is a family trait. When he was just nine years old, Cody McCarthy won his first elk calling competition. He used a tube specially built by his dad and beat out experienced hunters more than four times his age. Most kids in that kind of environment would be sweating in their socks, but Cody? He says he wasn’t nervous at all. From the beginning, he was built to compete.
Joe began taking Cody out on hunting trips when Cody was a year old — big enough to fit in a backpack. “When he was a kid, I’d let him play in the dirt behind me while I was getting set up,” says Joe. “Sometimes the elk would walk right by him.”
Joe comes from a long line of outdoorsmen. His father was an outfitter and dog trainer in Idaho and Oregon. The family moved to Oregon when Joe was in elementary school, with the intent to do more duck hunting and calling.
Duck hunting led the McCarthys out on the water, and it wasn’t long before Joe’s dad began buying boats to host guided fishing trips, taking anglers out on the river to fish salmon, steelhead and sturgeon. Joe joined him when he was still in high school, guiding his own groups.
He began working in duck clubs and developed a personal interest in duck calling. In college, he got hooked on elk hunting and later began making his own reeds for himself and friends to use. Although his father sold the business in the early 90s, Joe’s passion for exploring the wilderness was strong, and he continued to guide until 2003.
The makings of a champion
Like many kids with parents who hunt, Cody took to the sport at a young age. He began hunting when he was seven, called in his first bull at age eight, and killed his first elk when he was 11. And here’s a crazy fun fact about that — in all his years of hunting, Cody has never killed an elk in any way other than archery, which tells you something about his skills with a bow, even before he was a teenager.
Of course, having a competitive nature meant Cody wasn’t only drawn to one outdoor sport. He was also an avid football player. Early on, his dad — who also played college growing up — was one of his coaches. Eventually he played on an all-American high school team and went on to play as a two-time division one athlete for Eastern Washington University.
On the turf, Cody learned how to put his own health and fitness first (a lesson that comes in handy at Peak Fitness — the gym he owns in Emmett, Idaho). Football tested his physical endurance and honed his competitive spirit. These were traits he’d always appreciated about hunting and calling, so when his time on the field came to an end, Cody knew where to put that strength and energy.
Over the course of his life, Cody has competed in around thirty elk, turkey and duck calling competitions. “I spent a lot of time learning and listening,” he says. Most of all, Cody’s come to embrace the wilderness as both his classroom and teacher.
“I love disconnecting from the world. It’s a competition with myself. It prompts me to ask, ‘How can I push myself to think and work harder?’ It’s me versus Mother Nature. Most of the time Mother Nature wins, and that’s what’s beautiful about it,” he says.
In 2017, he placed in the World Elk Calling Championships (WECC), presented by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the International Sportsmen’s Expositions. Then, in 2021, he was the only competitor to go undefeated in the professional division. That victory named him the 2021 World Elk Calling Champion, a title he plans to defend in July 2022 with the help of a brand-new call he’s created in partnership with Slayer Calls.
A partnership that can’t be beat
In May 2022, big news began to circulate among the Slayer team: Cody McCarthy and his father, Joe, were joining the crew.
“Adding Cody McCarthy to the Slayer family is a game changer, both for Slayer as a business and for the hunting industry as a whole,” says Bill Ayer, founder and CEO of Slayer Calls.
One of the reasons Bill knows Cody and Joe will fit in is their shared values: kindness toward others, family first and hard work.
“My personal philosophy is that people need to learn from their failures,” Cody says. “These days, everything is so catered and ‘right now,’ people have forgotten how to trust the process. They want instant satisfaction.”
But Cody knows the best things in life don’t come on a silver platter. “It’s about the grind. It’s about putting your head down and working through things. That’s what the outdoors is — you have to earn it and work hard. It requires mental toughness. You can do things 100% right and still fail. But more often than not, you learn more through that failure.”
From the beginning, Bill has seen that “do or die” spirit in Cody, and he loves that like himself, Cody shares an obsession for building great products.
“Cody brings with him innovative product ideas that hunters across the United States will benefit from,” says Bill. “He brings fresh ideas to the elk call industry that will inherently help elk hunters succeed in the field. In addition, he’s got a heart of gold to help anybody who wants to perfect their craft of hunting. These are all values that Slayer prides itself on, and we couldn’t be happier to have Cody as part of the Slayer family.”
As for Cody, he says he’s looking forward to helping Slayer shape the industry as a whole. He’s done a lot of work in the past that’s impacted call design, function and perspective — experience he’s already begun to put to good use in prototypes for Slayer.
“Being a part of something like this is like investing in a ’67 SS Camaro. It’s something I can put my heart, sweat and tears into. It’s something I can be proud of, knowing all the hard work that went into it,” he says. “I can grow myself as a person — work with smart people, grow personally and impact an industry.”
As for Joe, he’s excited to put 40 years of elk hunting and calling experience to good use. He’s looking forward to helping others embrace the hunting experience, since he’s seen, firsthand, the impact Mother Nature can have on a damaged soul. He feels passionately that hunting is a way to balance life’s negativity, and that being in nature — elk hunting or no — can help a person find internal peace and connect with God during otherwise challenging times.
But it’s not only his positive perspective that makes Joe an outstanding contribution to the Slayer team. “Joe would never admit this, but he’s one of the best elk callers I have heard, and he would give anybody a run for their money on stage,” says Bill.
With these two great hunters and callers on our team, we better hope that family tendency toward competition doesn’t get personal. Working together, it’s easy to see that Cody and Joe are Slayer’s newest dynamic duo, and we can’t wait to show you the results of this incredible partnership.