A common calling mistake that many duck hunters make early in the season is to over call or to call to aggressively. This is especially true for those hunters who have duck seasons that open in September or early to mid October.
Early in the season, ducks tend to be much less vocal than they are when they start to congregate in mass. I have visited refuges holding thousands of ducks in September and early to mid October and have heard only limited calling going on between the birds located in the refuge.
Use this important information to your advantage. Instead of highballs and aggressive greeting calls use more contented greeting calls to get the birds attention. Once you have their attention use lazy feeder chuckles and pecks along with contented quacks. If you lose their attention, simply use a slower lower volume version of a hen greeting call and continue with chuckles, pecks and quacks. This more closely resembles how ducks communicate early in the season.
Adapt your calling style to a softer more content sound and you will see marked improvements in your success early in the season.
Not yet mentioned is the importance of matching your call to the species being hunted. Simply blowing a mallard duck call at teal, widgeon, pintail, and other whitstling ducks is not going to be nearly as effective as using the right call. Most of these of other duck calls are fairly simple to learn and worth adding to your lanyard.
The real key to success during the early duck season will be location and concealment versus the influence of your duck calling skills. In duck production states ducks have spent hundreds of hours growing up in particliar areas and these the locatations you want to be hunting. Whether your in a duck production state or not nothing replaces time spent on the marsh scouting.
Good Luck hunting this season, Jeff & Jeff