There are eight calls every serious duck hunter should have in his or her repertoire. Learn these, and you will be able to bring ducks closer in nearly every hunting situation.
Click the icons to hear champion caller Greg Brinkley, maker of Drake Brake Duck Calls in Marion, Arkansas, demonstrate each call sound.
1. Basic quack
As easy as it sounds, some callers never master a basic quack, and then wonder why the ducks don't come into their spread. Todd Heidelbauer also stresses the importance of learning to end the quack. "One of the first things my grandfather [Frank Heidelbauer] taught me was to end my quacks. People use 'qua qua qua' when there needs to be a clean, crisp, 'quaCK' instead. Stick to the basics and end your quacks, and everything else is second." The Heidelbauers should know; Frank Heidelbauer designed and began making their popular calls in 1952.
2. Greeting call
"I use the greeting call when I first see ducks at a distance. It's a series of 5 to 7 notes in descending order at a steady even rhythm, Kanc, Kanc, Kanc, Kanc, Kanc," says Rod Haydel. Rod Haydel should know; he's part of Louisiana duck calling royalty-the Haydel family of Haydel's Game Calls.
3. Feed call
For a basic feeding call, say "tikkitukkatikka," into the call raising and lowering the volume slightly. "I don't feed call a lot," says three-time World Champion caller and call maker Mike McLemore. "Callers should learn to use it to add variety, but it sounds better to the caller than it does to the ducks." Haydel adds, "Most mallards I hear feed calling in the typical 'kitty, kitty, kitty' fashion are flying, while ducks feeding are more broken up and erratic sounding, like 'da-dit da-dit dit dit, da-dit dit.'"
4. Hail call
The hail or highball call is an overused call in the minds of the pros. "Don't use a highball within 100 yards of the ducks," says Jim Olt of P.S. Olt Company. "But when you do use it, blow high, hard, and loud. However, nobody should use it unless they know how and when. Hails are the loudest of the lot." Rod Haydel agrees. "I'm not much on 30 note hail calls," he says. "I have yet to hear a real hen call in this manner. I try to sound as natural as I can." If you decide to try your hail call, start with a long, strong, Aaaaaaink...Aaaaaink.., aaaaink, aaainkaink and taper off as it progresses. But remember to use the hail call sparingly, and as Haydel says, "If the ducks are coming in, forget calling."