If you're serious about duck hunting, then you probably know that the call of the wild can come from a woodwind - a duck call, to be precise. This reed-based instrument is designed to summon waterfowl to your hunting grounds and is one of the most important pieces of duck hunting gear. Of course, like any instrument, you're going to need practice if you want to be pitch perfect. With this pursuit in mind, we've compiled a step-by-step guide to duck calls to get you started - just remember there's no substitute for firsthand experience. The only way to really test your technique is to get out there and try it out.
How to Use a Duck Call: Your Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Educate Yourself. If you want to know how to use a duck call, it's first important to educate yourself about how duck calls work. As mention, duck calls are reed instruments and they come in single reed or double reed varieties. Single reed duck calls have more scope, both in regards to their actual volume and their ability to facilitate sound control. They do, however, provide a challenge to master when it comes to technique, which makes them less effective in the hands of beginners, but a favourite for experienced hunters. Double reed duck calls, on the other hand, are ideal for beginners since they make it easier to control and vary the sound. The only downside is that these reeds are quieter and require more breath to use effectively. This said, sound accuracy is far more imperative to successful duck hunting than volume. Choose the reed type you think will work best for you before you move on.
Step 2: Call Composition. Duck calls are generally made out of wood, acrylic or a polycarbonate/mixed materials. In the hands of an expert duck hunter, any of these types of duck calls are invariably effective; however, if you ‘re new to the wonderful world of duck hunting, it is helpful to know the subtle differences.
:: Wood duck calls make gentle, soft sounds. Some hunters hold that this sound is more realistic. In general, wooden calls don't cost a lot, but the cost can add up if you don't take care of them since these calls tend to require more care. The softer sound and accuracy afforded by wooden calls makes them ideal if you’re hunting in a blind or with duck decoys the ducks are approaching.
:: Acrylic duck calls are known for emitting sharp, loud sounds, making them particularly handy when you're hunting in windy areas, open-water or are trying to attract ducks from a distance. (As you can see, call composition isn't only important in terms of reliability and sound quality, but also in terms of location.) Certain types of duck calls will work better in certain areas and circumstances than others.
While these duck calls cost more than wooden calls, they are easier to care for (especially when it comes to cleaning) and are also incredibly resilient.
:: Polycarbonate or mixed material duck calls, like the Delrin we carry - are your middle of the road option. They emit a sound between the softness of wood and the sharpness of acrylic. They win out over wood for durability and are as durable as acrylic in a variety of weather conditions.
Step 3: Get a Grip On It. There are a few different ways to hold your duck call, but the most common handle involves holding the call by the sound chamber and then wrapping ring finger and pinky around the hole. If you prefer the double handed approach, you can hold the call like a cigar and then use the palm of your other hand to control the sound.
Step 4: Blow, Don't Whistle. To get enough air to properly power your duck call, you need to blow from your diaphragm. You need to force up a considerable amount of air, so the technique resembles more of a cough and less of a whistle.
Step 5: Keep it Short, Sweet and Staccato.Presumably you've heard a duck or two in your time, and you've probably noticed that duck calls aren't usually long and drawn out. They are short and staccato. You are going to want to practice drawing the air up from your diaphragm and making a chuffing sound. You only need to open your lips a little to do this.
Step 6: Perfect Placement. Place your duck call between your teeth and try making the short chuffing sound again. If you're doing it right, you should clearly hear the distinctive 'quack' of a duck. To make SURE you're getting the 'ck' of the quack, you're really going to want to ensure you're cutting off the sound with your diaphragm. Remember: think short notes to hit the sweet spot. It's a rookie mistake to run your notes together. Be sure to cut them clean. Use the same air pressure for multiple notes using the same breath. Simply move your tongue up to the roof of your mouth and then down to break up the notes.
Step 7: Learn the Language. You're in duck country, my friend, so you've got to learn the language. Aside from the standard quack, some of the most common kinds of duck calls include:
The language of love. Bag a few mallards with the slightly longer, extended 'quianCK' sound of the lonely and longing hen.
The warm welcome. If you see ducks in the distance, beckon them with the 'kanc kanc kanc' sound. Chow time! To summon ducks for supper, try the feeding call, which you should vary in sound through the course of call, 'tikki tukka tikka'. Think of the progression of sound as a wave.
But back to basics...
Just keep in mind that the ‘quack’ is not only the most common call, but also the call that most other sounds will be based off of, so master this first. To accurately mimic the quack, think about using the word 'hut'. Again, remember to blow up from your diaphragm.
The REAL Deal
You'll notice that ducks aren't needlessly talkative, so if your duck decoys are working, there's no need to strike up a conversation. This will arouse suspicion. When thinking about how to use a duck call, what's most important to remember is that you're aiming for authenticity. This is why it's important to get out there, observe and practice. Over time you'll start to develop finesse for the distinctive sound of this waterfowl and be able to organically mimic the sounds yourself.
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- Accurately produce the distinct call of drake wood ducks
- An effective confidence call for other species of ducks
- Durable and weatherproof high impact plastic
Be prepared the next time a beautiful drake wood duck circles your spread. Accurately produce all wood duck sounds to lure in wary wood ducks or to use as a confidence call on other waterfowl. Hardwood barrel produces dead-on tone and great volume.
Overall length (in.): 4
Barrel diameter (in.): 1.12
Mouth piece outside diameter (in.): .898
Weight (oz.): 1.1
Insert bore diameter (in.): .446
Reed style: Single
Call material: Plastic
Replacement reed included: No
Instruction tape: No
Lanyard included: No
For sanitary reasons we are unable to accept returned calls.
How to Use a Duck Call
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We here at S&G Outdoors are strong believers in supporting local small business and local talent. We strive to bring, design, and build the best products that Logan County, West Virginia has to offer at home and abroad. Our products are made in the United States of America.