Am I really that bad … at calling ducks? | News, Sports, Jobs
Teaching someone to talk to ducks can be easy, or it can be the most frustrating thing in the world. The speech itself is not rocket science, but how and how to use it properly is a lifelong pursuit, which many will attempt, but never master.
Heck, people can win duck call contests – yes, there is such a thing and it’s very competitive – and they’ll drive for hours to go head-to-head and hear the call of the hot rookie. While there are a lot of good callers in these competitions, they will all say the same thing – calling a contest isn’t like calling a blind.
There are two types of calls – contest and meat – and today we will be discussing meat calls.
I have been fortunate enough to call both in many contests and even judge a few. There are many lessons that can be learned by listening to the calls of other callers. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Get your butt off the couch, drive to the lake or pond where the ducks hang out, sit back and listen and, for goodness sake, leave your calls in the truck. No need to train on the real thing and get them used to your calling. It will come back and bite you. Drop the tailgate and sit back, watch and listen to the ducks as they communicate with each other.
Take note of how and what they say to each other when on the water, feeding, and when other ducks fly over and the ducks on the water communicate with the ducks in the air. We are so lucky where we live. We have plenty of ducks who will teach us before the opening day.
The range of reproducible sounds with a duck call can be overwhelming. While more advanced call sequences may work, the simpler sound is vastly underestimated: the simple quack. When only one hen is allowed to land in your spread, you’ll usually hear her hoarse, throaty quack. It will be a little urgent, as if she was lost to her friends. Yet this sound is often overlooked in modern calling routines.
Start at the first step and learn how to be a charlatan. This will often cause ducks to spread when apparently nothing else will. On calm, calm days, or in areas with high hunting pressure, a rehearsal single note quack is deadly. Don’t leave the house without it.
Your hunting partner is a very good duck caller and firmly believes that his $ 150 acrylic caller is the best there is. But when you try out her favorite acrylic masterpiece, the sounds you make, well, they’re not good. No matter what your friend’s instructions are, you just can’t make a decent sound with his duck call. In the field, the ducks certainly don’t buy it.
As a designer and manufacturer of duck calls for a few decades, there’s a reason there is a wide selection and style of calls. Everyone has their own style and especially their lung capacity or “air.”
Find a call that matches your “air” not the one that looks pretty, or that your boyfriend prefers. Call makers who offer calls with a variety of reed, barrel and tip designs. The best way to determine your best fit is to perform simple trial and error at a dealership with several different calls.
Information abounds these days, including information on duck calls. The source of much of this information is provided by people in the field of competitive tendering. Now, almost without fail, these guys are good at calling ducks. But a call for competition “routine” may seem absurdly overkill, especially if you haven’t learned the basics yet.
Here’s something else you’ll notice if you spend time in a duck’s world: you hear a lot more sounds than mallards. You will hear teals, whistling ducks and pintail ducks whistling. Mallards make a gweeb sound that really gets your blood flowing, and Gadwall Ducks are vocal with a sweet, distinct quack all their own. You have never tried any of these sounds while hunting.
Many companies produce calls to mimic ducks, pintails, mallards, and chipets. Give them a try, especially on quiet days when calls can be difficult. Late season mallards can be real suckers for a good drake whistle, as males seem to be more vocal when pairing up with mates for spring.
Everyone knows it’s wrong to “cut” in a duck call; it just produces kazoo-like sounds. So you growl, deep in your guts. Sometimes the noise you create sounds like a duck. More often than not, this leaves you breathless and looks like a guy growling on a duck call.
While it might come as a big surprise, the more advanced the callers get, the more they blow into the call. Veterans learn to “to play” a duck call like an instrument, using forced air that is pressurized into the throat or roof of the mouth, rather than into the stomach. A telltale sign of good technique is the ability to produce duck sounds at all volume levels, down to a whisper. Again, start with a single quack to learn the proper air pressure. Worry about the other sounds later.
So you have practiced and can make some really good sounds on a duck call. Yet you still suck at calling ducks. You are bewildered by how often birds simply ignore you or even fly away. But when you hunt with a veteran, chills run down your spine as you watch them turn the birds into a gap with just one call of hail at the right time. He says something about “Call in the corners”, but you are not really sure what that means.
Learn to watch and “read” ducks. Do not give hail or greetings to birds until they appear to be leaving the area. If they come close or if only one bird in the flock enters the decoys, stay silent or, at most, use simple quacks and a few feeding calls. If the birds turn and then pass as if they were looking for another destination, strike them with a hail cry; it’s the mysterious “corner.” When they turn to you, cut it down again.
You’ve heard the ducks make a variety of noises, and the callers make more. Obviously, the fashionable method of calling is to use a loud shout, followed by machine gun chatter once the ducks start to spin. Ask yourself: how often do real ducks do this?
Ducks make different sounds in different environments. Hundreds of ducks in a swampy refuge make different sounds than a group of birds feeding in the woods. Many calling methods are intended to exaggerate a natural event, such as hail calls and super aggressive feed chatter. But such sounds can be excessive when hunting more than a dozen decoys.
Approach the duck from a naturalist’s point of view and duplicate the sounds to suit your surroundings. Keep in mind that most of the time, a mallard will feed no more than one foot underwater or 16 inches above the ground. Feeding chatter doesn’t feel natural if your lures are placed in 3 feet of water.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of duck hunting is calling. So it’s easy to want to call out every duck you see. But sometimes it’s like the ducks are willingly turning away when you call. You are well hidden and the decoys look good, so you conclude that maybe this is the calling. But how does this make sense? Real ducks call each other all the time.
Do not call the approaching ducks. If you have to make noise to get things going, keep it to a minimum. In situations where ducks are under great hunting pressure, they may actually avoid areas where they hear calls. There are a few signs you call too much. This happens if ducks approach without shouting and immediately lure, or if ducks are flying overhead, probably downwind behind you, and a series of salute calls annoy them.
Although live ducks can have different tones and heights, they all have very similar cadences. Not matching this is the safest way to make your bogus duck calls sound.
As nature reveals, the tone of a duck’s song varies from bird to bird. Young, immature hens are believed to be taller than older, raspy hens. So a caller can have a varying degree of pitch without worry, but it is essential to match cadence and rhythm. Simple quacks aside, the most common sound of a hen is a five to seven note greeting. The first or second notes are often the most stressed, then they subside.
Most novice callers think they are too aggressive. You have heard this over and over again and tried to avoid it. And yet you watch ducks light up out of range or fly right in front of you.
In some situations, loud, aggressive calls work. An example is when the ducks are about to land nearby, but not directly in your set. Just before landing, loud calls will often be “bounce” reassemble them and bring them into the lures. Aggressive calls can also work when traveling ducks hover over your spread without intending to land there. Many veterans call it “Traffic in progress”, and this is often the situation you find yourself in when you are not chasing the X. In this scenario, it may be better to call the higher birds loudly to lower them, then attenuate to call more realistic. once they turn.
Then there are days when loud calls are only the most effective method. Only ducks can tell you that. If they react to aggressive tactics, but turn away when you let go, try hammering them until you shoulder the weapon.
This is yet another way to sum up the most important tip of all duck calls. Determine what the ducks want and give it to them. Welcome to a journey of a lifetime and a learning experience.