Learning the Duck Call

Learning the Duck Call


If you find yourself practicing duck calls instead of singing in the shower, you know the hunting season is fast approaching. Perhaps you’re considering dropping in to Minturn Anglers to pick up a new call. The friendly staff will be pleased to guide you through the maze of choices that will suit your style and budget, from single or double reed to wood, acrylic or polycarbonate construction.

Once you have made your choice, the next step is up to you. Every duck caller knows that consistent practice, experience and patience takes novice callers to the next level. Use a quality CD or DVD to pick up the basics, and then, as with any musical instrument, practice, practice, practice.

Start with some of the basic duck call sounds.

  • A basic quack can entice ducks to your spread; experts insist that the call should be a crisp, clean “quaCK” with a definite ending to the “qua qua qua” sound often used
  • Greet ducks in the distance with a series of “Kanc” notes in a steady descending order
  • Some callers add a feeding call to their repertoire, slightly lowering and raising the volume of a “tikkitukkatikka” sound

If you’re more of a visual or auditory learner or just looking for a little more clarification, check out this video from the national duck calling champion, Jim King. In this video, he demonstrates duck calling tips for beginners and describes their effectiveness while out on the hunt.

Remember to be flexible. Ducks can react differently from day to day as well as during different parts of the day. Adapt your call to current behaviors. Here are some other tips that will help lead you to a successful hunt:

  • When ducks are approaching in the distance, use your call to draw their attention and interest until they can see your decoys
  • Don’t give up calling if the lead duck moves past your location; sometimes trailing ducks will be tempted to check out your spread
  • When ducks get close, work for realism, keeping call patterns short, perhaps four or five quacks at a time
  • Try to keep your calls short, with a distinct break between notes to make them sound more like the real thing
  • Use only one hand to avoid muffling the call

Duck calling is like riding a bicycle. Once learned, skills might become rusty over the summer but quickly return with practice. Do your practicing at home instead of wasting time in the field. With a repertoire of different call sounds, you will have the best chance for a successful hunt.

If you feel you’ve mastered your duck calling craft, or just want to try it out your new skills in real time, check out Minturn Anglers’ new guided duck hunts along the Front Range and in Vail Valley. We offer half day and full day hunting packages that will suit the needs of beginner and experienced hunters.

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

About the Author

Justin Nolan

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