So you want to be a master duck hunter, but there’s one problem: you’re hopelessly inept at making convincing duck calls.
Luckily for you, there are a number of reasonably good solutions to such a problem, from purchasing a duck call from the store to turning your smartphone into a soundboard of animal calls.
With that said, there is just something about making the call with your own mouth and vocal cords that, when you start bagging waterfowl, really makes you feel accomplished. There is nothing wrong with using auxiliary store-bought duck calls, and modern technology has made them better, more efficient, and easier to use. But if you do want to finally sit down and master the basics of duck calling, read on.
Ducks are more than just quackers. They have a variety of different calls, and each call marks a different moment or situation throughout their day. In other words, when one call fails entirely, another may succeed, and having multiple duck calls in your sound-making arsenal will help you to assure your own waterfowl hunting success.
The best way to master different duck calls – or any hunting calls, really – is to listen to them extensively and try to imitate the sounds you are hearing. For most of us, all language learning begins with imitation of sounds, and that rule holds true for learning the duck language as well.
Even if you don’t want to use your cellphone app or store-bought duck calls in the field, they can still be useful for learning to make the sound on your own because they make a consistent and proven call noise that you can work to imitate. If you have neither, hit the Internet and search around for sound clips of different calls. They aren’t hard to find, and will make your learning process that much easier.
We said above that ducks are more than just quackers, but mastering the basic quack sound should be the first thing that a duck call beginner has on their to-do list. Luckily, the quack is fairly easy: it’s as iconic as any animal sound you will hear in nature and has become a second nature imitation for most people in general, let alone hunters.
However, there are a few precautions you should take in learning the basic quack.
First of all, don’t exaggerate the sound too much: you aren’t trying to lure Donald Duck, and your real duck prey will know the difference between a hokey human quack and the sounds that their fellow species make.
Secondly, make sure to finish each quack out completely. Many hunters make the mistake of rapidly repeating “qua qua qua” motives, without clipping the end with a crisp “K” sound. Suffice to say that there is a reason the sound has earned the name of “quack.” Finish the word and make sure your diction is loud and precise. Believe us when we say that ducks will know the difference.
Once you have mastered the basic quack, you can move on to learning the other major calls in the duck hunting repertoire, from self-explanatory feeding and mating calls to more interesting sounds used to get the attention of far-off birds.
Most duck sounds build on the basic quack, taking the nasal feel of that sound and extending it over various tempos, volumes, and pitches.
In other words, if you have the basic quack down, you have the building blocks, just make sure not to stop there if you really want to master duck calling.