When it comes to duck hunting, knowing how to call ducks is a key ingredient to a successful hunt. By the time a duck has made it to the southern states of the US, it has flown over multitudes of blinds and has been shot at on numerous occasions. Needless to say, calling to these ducks can sometimes present quite an obstacle.
With all of the competition calling and how-to videos out there, it can be quite difficult to figure out exactly what to be doing when a duck flies in your direction. With all this, duck calling doesn’t have to be an intimidating task; in fact, with a few basic fundamentals, it can become one of the most enjoyable parts of the duck hunting experience and soon you’ll be teaching others how to call ducks.
One of the key things to know about duck calling, before even figuring out how to use the call itself, is that the call is not meant to make a duck land into your spread. Instead, a call is meant to act as an air traffic controller to get your ducks to look to where you and your decoys are. You want to use the call to grab the attention of the ducks to look at your spread, and as they get progressively closer, to turn them as they circle where you want them to be. The vegetation in your spot, and the attractive decoys are what the ducks really want. So if they’re making a beeline straight to your shooting lane, lay off the call and let your spread do the work. And make sure the protestors are out of the way.
When it comes to calling itself, there are three main calls you’ll want to have in your arsenal: the quack, the hail call, and the feed chuckle.
The quack is the most basic of the three, and is also the main staple of all calling. When making the quack, you’ll want to say something along the lines of ‘voo-eet’ into your call, with a little vibration, almost like you were blowing into a kazoo. If you listen to ducks in the wild, you’ll notice that this is the one they make the most, so it’d be a good idea to master this call first.
The Hail Call
The hail call, or the greeting call, is one that is used to reach out to ducks when you make your first attempt at a group of birds. This call is their way of telling approaching birds, ‘we’re down here, we have food and women, come and join!’ To make this call, you’ll want to string together four or five quacks, stepping down progressively in volume with each quack you make. No need to put too many quacks together, as you may have heard in a championship routine (this is meant for a judge, not a group of ducks.) Just a few continuous quacks is what you want.
The Feed Chuckle
The last of the three, the feed chuckle, is a good one to use when the ducks are close. When ducks make this call, it is a sign of contentment; they’re full of food, and they’re having a good time. When you make this call, you’ll want to say something like ‘dugga digga dugga’ or ‘ticka tucka ticka’ into your call. One thing to keep in mind is, as fun as it is to hear the world class callers chatter away with this call, using it too rapidly actually translates to ducks as a call made when in flight. So just a few ‘duggas’ or ‘tickas,’ whatever works you, will help close in those few final descents.
Once you’ve mastered these three calls, there are numerous duck hunting tips and variations that you can create which may be effective for certain situations. Weather conditions, locations, and parts of the season can call for slight variations that you can learn other calls for. But if you can learn these few basic techniques of duck calling, there is no doubt that you will bring down a load of limits.