One of the hardest and most intimidating aspects of duck hunting is learning how to use a duck call. The real quest is why? Why is learning how to use a duck call so intimidating and hard for new duck hunters. I can tell you from y own experience, I felt the same way when I first started duck hunting. Even though picking up a duck call and learning to use it looked like a lot of fun. It was intimidating and it took quite a while to research and find enough tips, skills, and tactics to start learning how to use a duck call.
Therefore, I’ve compiled the information that helped get me started when it comes to learning how to use a duck call. The one tip that I have to start with is, never stop trying to learn and perfect your duck calling. Instead, try and keep researching and learning beyond this article to gain as much information as you can.
Top Related Article – Best Duck Calls Buyer Guide
Construction of a Duck Call –
When it comes to the duck call the history dates back over a hundred years ago. Before the time of calling competitions, and custom duck calls there were waterfowl hunters all over trying to tinker and make their very own duck calls. Some of the earliest calls were made of wood, cork, and any other materials found around the home. However, there wasn’t the same duck call manufactures that are found in just about every corner of every flyway today.
There are a few major components of the duck call that will help you when it comes to learning how to use a duck call. Therefore, there are three main pieces of every modern duck call.
Mouth Piece –
Usually made of wood, acrylic, or polycarbonate the mouthpiece is the part of the duck call that you blow into. It really doesn’t get much more complicated than that. The only thing that differs between one duck call and another is style and inside diameter. Some call manufactures even mess with the length of the mouthpiece to provide different volumes, tones, and sounds.
Reed & Sound Board –
The second and most important is the reed and soundboard. In order for one duck call to be different from another duck call is by changing and designing a unique reed or soundboard. Depending on the reed size, thickness, and how the reed is secured to the soundboard this is what gives each duck call it’s very own unique sound.
The last piece to a duck call is the insert, this is where the duck call sound exits. Again there isn’t a lot to this piece. However, it can be altered in size to give different tones and volumes. The main part of this piece is to hold the reed and soundboard. So even though it’s simple this is what gives each manufacturer their differences.
How To Use a Duck Call –
When it comes to learning how to use a duck call there are a few components that will begin to add context to a duck call.
Air Pressure –
The first and hardest to understand for beginners to learn is air pressure. The term “blow” a duck call is relative. Instead, when learning how to use a duck call you aren’t blowing in the same way you would blow out candles on a birthday cake. Instead, think of the air pressure required for a duck call as the same as if you were to fog up a window and write on it. Some refer to this as warm air or air from your diaphragm. So to know if you are using the correct air pressure, take your duck call and while blowing into a mirror if your cheeks puff out that is what it looks like to use cold air. Whereas if you are using the hot air, your cheeks will not puff out.
If you want a great video to learn about air pressure and air presentation when learning how to use a duck call. Midwest Flyways does a great video clip, see below.
Hand Placement –
The second crucial part when it comes to learning how to use a duck call is the hand placement. Instead of just picking up a call and blowing there is a lot of tone and sound that is required by your on hand using the duck call. Therefore, following these steps will help position you to get the correct hand placement.
Step 1 :
For me, I use my right hand when using a duck call, either work. Some try and use the opposite hand as their shooting side, but instead do what feels comfortable. To start take your call hand and spread it wide open where the back of your hand faces your eyes. Next, open your hand and create a “V” between your thumb and index finger. This is where the duck call will fit into place. Rest the insert of the duck call in the center of the created “V”.
Step 2 :
Next, wrap your index finger and thumb around the barrel of the insert and grab the call firmly. In some ways it’s similar to making the “okay” hand gesture with the duck call fixed in the middle of your thumb and index finger.
Next, you will take the final three fingers from your middle to your pinky and rest them on the meaty part of your palm. Creating a cupped channel for the air of the duck call to be released in. This part is very important as it’s designed to mimic and be the bill of a duck. As a result, when you see some duck calling this is the moving fingers that you are seeing. It’s designed to mimic the duckbill opening and closing to allow air to release.
Tongue Position –
The final very important part of learning how to use a duck call is your tongue position. This helps release the air pressure through the duck call. If you think of the tongue as a valve for release pressured air it’s easier to understand how the tongue should work.
For starters, there are two parts to learning how to use your tongue. The first is the roof of your mouth and the second is the tip of your tongue or bottom part of the tongue. There are some variations to this, however, for beginners, this is the easiest starting points, to begin with. Essentially, your tongue is opening and closing between the tip of your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Therefore, when you know how to create the correct warm pressured air you will bring your tongue down and allow air to go through the call. To create that quack sound you then have to close the air by quickly shutting the air pressure off. To do this you have to slap the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
The skill of learning how to utilize your tongue does take time and practice. When I first started I would play around with my tongue in my mouth even without a duck call. Practice moving your tongue to the roof of your mouth and understand how air has to be released and stopped.
Bobby Guy Films does a great job of explaining the tongue placement if you want a visual for reference.
Top Sounds With a Duck Call –
When it comes to learning how to use a duck call there are a number of notes that ducks use to communicate with each other. Some are telling other ducks about their presence, some are the sounds of when they feed. Therefore, as a duck hunter, you have to begin to learn how to perform each note and understand when to use them. As a result, we have broken down each call into steps and included a great video to help learn each call.
The Quack Call –
The most basic yet the foundation of duck calling is the quack. Therefore, this is usually the first call you will begin to learn. It’s a very simple call, however, you need to know hand placement and tongue placement to replicate and learn the quack.
Step 1 –
To perform the quack you need to release a breath of air into the call. So start with your tongue down or the tip of your tongue touching the back of your teeth.
Step 2 –
Next while blowing from your diaphragm blow warm air through the duck call, if you count about one second, this is the amount of air needing to be released.
Step 3 –
Next, close your tongue to the roof of your mouth in a quick motion closing the air off like a valve. This quick closing of air pressure creates that high pitch “quack” ending sound.
As you can see this is a very simple call to perform once you get it down pat. However, where people struggle at first is knowing the correct air pressure and closing the air pressure off fast enough. It has to be a quick close or the call won’t have that final high pitch quack at the end. If you want a great quick video of what it sounds like what the following clip.
The Greeting Call –
Before you do this call you have to learn how to perform the quack. The quack is the foundation for this call, and if you can’t do a quack you can’t learn the greeting call. This note is a very common call to make when you see ducks at a distance and you are trying to let them know you have a spread and want it to sound realistic. As a result, the greeting call is really simple to make as its just putting together a series of quacks.
Step 1 –
To start this call you begin with one higher volumed quack and then proceed into multiple quacks where they decrease in volume. This is one of the easiest calls to make, however, it can take some practice in learning the volume and cadence required to sound like a real duck.
I don’t think this call needs any more than one step. Instead, practice this call while listening to ducks on a pond or lake. As many hunters have a number of quacks they use to create the greeting call and will tell you its a 3 or 5 pattern. Instead, listen to live ducks and find out what makes sense for actual ducks.
The Feed Call –
When it comes to learning how to use a duck call, one of the most sought-after sounds is the feed call. Many people have the idea that the feed call is a sign of becoming a seasoned duck caller. More often than not, its because this call takes some skill and muscle memory to get right. There are two feed calls, the rolling feed call, and the feed chuckle. The rolling feed call is what you hear in competition calling when it sounds like a hundred feeding ducks. Whereas the feed chuckle is more realistic for hunting as it sounds like one or two feeding ducks.
Typically the feed chuckle is what sound you will need to replicate for duck hunting. So start with learning how to perform this first before you speed it up and learn the rolling feed chuckle.
Step 1 –
Start out by using the same tongue position as you do with a quack or greeting call. With your tongue starting on the roof of your mouth you are opening and closing your tongue very quickly.
Step 2 –
To give you a reference word “tuk” or “good” it means that this is the tongue position required to create the feed call sound. Most people assume you need to say the word, however, it’s more of a reference for learning the proper placement for your tongue and mouth.
The Feed call is a call that does take practice and practicing without a call is one of the best ways to condition your tongue to roll fast enough to make the feed call. Therefore, practice in your car, house, or anywhere. This call took me over a year to teach my tongue the proper rhythm and pressure to get it right. However, for others, they may get it in the first month. Either way you have to practice to get this call correctly.