View Full Version : duck hunters - how did you learn to call
i am looking for some tips on learning to call ducks. namely puddle ducks (mallards, canvasbacks, etc.) i have purchased a couple of calls, but never really spent time to learn how to use them. it's pretty discouraging actually, i sound worse than you could possibly imagine. any tips, resources, etc. would be greatly appreciated.
For a basic introduction to duck calling as well as advanced tips to learn once you've got the hang of it, I'd recommend Rich-N-Tone's CD set, "The Right Stuff." It goes over hand placement, breath control, and the other various nuances of blowing a duck call. It's a good set because once you get the basics, it goes further and covers things like how to "read" ducks and when and how to blow what type of call (comeback, feed chatter, highball, etc.).
Other than that, just practice. I usually keep my calls in the truck, and blow them whenever I've got a long drive. It's something to keep me entertained while improving my chances to kill ducks. Sure, I get odd looks every now and then, but really not any more than normal. I'd say it takes about a year just to become proficient, and a few more years after that before you become what most would consider a good duck caller. I'm just passing the proficiency stage. :)
One tip, though. Don't become obsessed with the sound of your own calling. Don't blow your call so much that you turn ducks off. I know some great duck call operators that can't call ducks worth ****. Probably the most important skill in all of calling ducks is the ability to "read" the ducks, and have an idea of when they're committed or when they need another comeback call to set them into your decoys. This only comes from time in the blind, and it will help greatly if you can share a blind with someone who's already an accomplished caller (and not merely a good call operator).
Best thing to do is buy a duck call that comes along with a tape or cd and listen to it while you are driving to work. When you are alone in the car its a great place to practice.
the best thing i have found is first spend the money on a decent call..
you dont have to spend a full bill on a one..but for $30-45 you can get an ECHO or a RnT..low end model.
either a good double or single..doubles are better for a novice.
buck gardner/rick dunn or any of the RnT tapes/CD's are excellent.
find a park that has some ducks and listen..
too many people get caught up with trying to make sounds that in the 22+ years of hard core duck hunting i have never had to make.
a soft 3 note quack...and excited quack series and listen to a duck feed..it isnt that CHUKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAAKAKKAKAA TIKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKA
its a really soft gurgrling/popping sound that is slower and easier to manage.
remember..those who call the least..usually are better off.
i would much rather be somewhere the ducks wanted to be..than to try and coax them over.
remember also about a whistle..those can be an evil tool late in the year.
ECHO makes a double reed poly/ wood call that is green stained..for around $40.. that call is on par with several $80-140 calls i have blew.
i have had the opportunity to watch thousands of ducks of all species..
1- they actually dont make that much noise..
2- like any bir..RHYTHEM in your cadence is everything..crappy sound combined with a good rhythm is A-OK...a good sound with horrible rhythem wont get you much action.
3- know when to call..only wings and backs..never when a duck is headed toward you.
4- softer is better....
I used to work at a Duck hunting lodge when I was younger (14-16) I helped set up decoys, cleaned ducks, pulled skeet, worked the dog, and called a little. I learned by listening to the master guide who was also my neighbor and more like a dad to me. The best piece of advice I can give you is get with someone who can explain in detail stuff to you.If you dont have any duck hunting friends, I know down here in Mississippi almost every sporting good store has duck hunters working in it and many are willing to show off a little. Just be polite and they will help you. I am in school right now but I duck hunt almost every weekend and you cant beat it. Dont give up on the calling it takes a little while but the time you spend in the duck blind with friends or your family is truly worth every frustrating minute of it. One of the most memorable hunts I have been on was when we took three generations of a family hunting and the youngest was 6, he killed his first duck and being a part of that was great. I wasnt but 16 at the time and I realized why I hunt and that there's more to it than just getting a limit of birds, I think we (the guide, myself, and the dad and grandfather) were more excited than the little boy. Anyways sorry for the long post and Good luck
Buy an Echo Timber double reed for your first call. You really can't go wrong with one of these.
There are plenty of duck calling tapes/videos out there. The above mentioned ones are good.
Practice a lot. Don't practice around people though, it can be very annoying, especially when indoors. I usually keep one in the car to practice when I drive. Record yourself and see what it sounds like. Sometimes it's hard to tell what you sound like when you are actually calling.
For a whistle, I would get an H.S. whistle at Wal-Mart. It comes with a tape and is very easy to learn to use. I hanv't had much luck calling birds in with it though, as wood ducks are very unresponsive to calling.
P.S. - a canvasback isn't a puddle duck, it's a diver. ;)
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