Learn several different calls for getting the most out of your duck calls
Calling ducks can be challenging. Learning what calls to use, how to use them, and when to use them are essential to effectively calling ducks. For a beginner, learning to blow a duck call is typically a frustrating venture. We will discuss the basics of calling to get you started calling ducks or to improve your calling abilities.
Duck calls are musical instruments, and like any musical instrument, you have to learn to properly blow or “play” a duck call before you can make “music.” To control your call, you must control your air flow. To control your air flow, you have to use your diaphragm to control and maintain a steady air pressure. Using your diaphragm means to squeeze and hold it tight, like breathing hot air to fog up a window. Practice fogging a window to better understand the feeling of squeezing and holding your diaphragm. Once you learn to use your diaphragm to hold a steady air pressure, you can begin trying to create duck sounds. Most of the different call types used to lure ducks are based around the quack. Our discussion will begin there.
Listen to the Quack
The quack consists of a single note that must be ended cleanly and crisply. To create the quack, you can say several different words into the call, such as quack, quit, gwit, hut, hoot, or whack. Experiment with the different words. One particular word may work better for you than the others. When you say the word into the call, say it with a single monotone syllable with a crisp finish. For example, you would say “QUIT” not “ka-wit” or “qui”. The basic quack can, at times, draw ducks into your decoys when other calls will cause them to turn away. Mastering the quack first is often the best way to progress your calling abilities.
The Greeting Call
Listen to the Greeting Call
The greeting call is often the first call to use to grab the attention of ducks from afar. The greeting call is a series of 5 to 7 quacks given in a steady rhythm with descending emphasis. For example, you would say “QUIT – QUIT – Quit – Quit – quit – quit.” For each progressing word, you blow them a little faster making each note sound shorter.
The Feed Call
Listen to the Feed Call
Listen to the Rolling Feed Call
The feed call is the one hen call not based on the quack. It is a combination of very short, single syllable notes. You create the feed call by saying the word “tic” in short, erratic, broke notes, such as “tic-tic-tic-tictictic-tic—tic-tictic.” You can combine the feed call with the basic quack to add more realism. The feed call is a softer call used to build the ducks confidence when they are close. The feed call differs from the rolling feed call, or feed chuckle. The rolling feed call is created by saying “tickatickatickatukkatukkatickatucka” in a continuous string of notes. Although it has its place and is supposed to imitate numerous ducks feeding together, the rolling feed call often attracts more hunters than ducks.
The Comeback Call
Listen to the Comeback Call
The comeback call should be used when birds ignore your greeting call or when you need an immediate reaction. When the ducks start drifting away after making a pass, hit them with a comeback call. It’s a faster more urgent sound. The comeback call is a hard and fast series of 5 to 7 quacks. The call starts fast and slows as you progress. To blow the comeback call you say “QUIIT-QUIIT-QUIIT-QUIIT-Quit-Quit-quit.”
The Lonesome Hen
Listen to the Lonesome Hen
The lonesome hen call can be extremely effective and is often overlooked by hunters. It can convince call shy ducks to commit. The lonesome hen call is a series of nasally, widely drawn out quacks, such as “Quiit—Quiit—Quiit—Quiit-Quiit-Quit-Quit.” Be careful you do not blow the quacks too close together as this speaks danger to other ducks.
The Pleading Call
Listen to the Pleading Call
The pleading call, or begging hail call, can be effectively used to grab ducks from a distance up to a couple hundred yards. It can also work well for ducks too stubborn to respond. The pleading call is a 5-6 note series of quacks. This call is slightly faster and a more drawn-out version of a comeback call. To make the pleading call you would say. “Quiiit-Quiiit-Quiiit-Quiit-Quit-Quit-Quit.”
The Hail Call
Listen to the Hail Call
The hail call, or highball, is one of the most overused and misused calls. It is loud and long. If you do not know when and how to use the hail call, you could send the ducks to the next county. The hail call is used to grab the attention of ducks from a great distance, and should not be used when ducks are less than 100 yards away. The hail call is a series of 7-14 quacks starting out strong and drawn out tapering off as you progress. The call is made by saying, “QUIIIIT-QUIIIIT-QUIIIIT-QUIIIIT-QUIIIT-QUIIIT-QUIIT-QUIIT-QUIIT-QUIT-QUIT-QUIT.”
Calling ducks takes confidence, and confidence comes from practice. Knowing how to make the calls is important, but knowing when to make them is more important. As a general rule, never call when ducks are directly above you. The ducks will key-in on your exact location. Never call to ducks flying straight to you. Let them continue coming. It is best to call to their wingtips or tailfeathers. This means to call the ducks when their wingtips or tailfeathers are pointed at you.
As duck season progresses, ducks become harder to call. When this happens minimize your calling. Never be afraid to experiment and change your calling tactics.