How To Choose The Best Duck Call

By Jeff Matura

jeff matura with a limit of drake mallards taken on the upper mississipi riverMany hunters rely on a salesman or friend when searching for the best duck call. But this question can only be answered by understanding which type will be most suited for the type of hunting situations on any given day along with skill level of the operator. For instance extra volume will be needed when hunting during high winds, migrator days, competitive situations, or when hunting wide open areas and pulling ducks from a distance. But too effectively work educated or call shy ducks most often a softer more easily controlled duck call will yield better results. Then again there is still the decision between a single or double reed design. There just is no simple answer to the best, or what is the magic flute so many hunters hunt for.

Open Water Calls produce the greatest volume and are a good choice when you're hunting wide-open areas, windy conditions, migrating ducks, aggressive ducks, and can be effective when hunting in areas with a high degree of competition. Utilizing an exhaust port with a large diameter this call is designed to deliver its best sound at a higher volume levels and the choice of competition callers. While many are advertised to produce the loudest hail to the softest quack it is very difficult for most hunters to get realistic sounds along with control of volume on the low end in respect to volume.

Mid-Range Calls offer the greatest degree of versatility to the hunter and are perfect choice when an open water style may be too much but yet a timber style just isn't enough. With a slightly smaller diameter exhaust port this style has both a realistic sounding low end, fairly simple to control, and enough volume to get the ducks attention of distant ducks. By no means would I consider this a replacement of the timber style for finishing ducks.

Timber Duck Calls produce the softest and most realistic sound along with being to very easy to control when finessing ducks into the decoys. By no means just for the timber, but an excellent choice to use in any of the following situations; tight closed in areas, calm days, call shy or heavily hunted mallards, or ducks that you're hunting over ice and whenever you need to sound as realistic and natural as possible. This style would be my personal favorite and the most often used by myself in the field.

Making The Right Choice

In my experience the single best duck call just doesn't exist for calling mallards as they are all designed to operate at a specific range of volume. It's my recommendation that a hunter have at least two of the above styles of calls on their lanyard as one simply cannot do it all. In addition having the choice of multiple tone ranges can also prove to be very beneficial when working educated mallards along with simply having a spare.


Single Reed or Double Reed

While the decision between single or double reed is really a matter of preference there are some subtle differences worth noting. If your first getting started, or just don't want to practice any more than you have to I would recommend purchasing a double reed. Today many double reed calls are capable of producing nearly the same volume as a single. The only limiting factor of a double reed is that you will not be able to change the pitch of the sound as much as a single reed. Please note that double reed may have a tendency to stick when temperatures dip below 40 degrees. I certainly am not going to say you need to use a single reed to kill ducks, but it is my preferred choice.


Construction Materials

So what's best choice between acrylic, polycarbonate, or wood? Your budget and personal choice. Acrylic has really become popular choice for contest callers along with manufactures that want to sell a lot of product as this material is most easily turned on CNC lathes. Most would agree that acrylic will generate the loudest and sharpest notes along with a consistent pitch when wet from normal use. In contrast wooden calls will produce a more natural mellow sound and since I am hunting ducks versus judges wood has always been my preferred choice. It is important to note with wooden calls that the insert be removed from the barrel after use to prevent a stuck insert. When choosing wood make sure the barrel is banded in order to prevent cracking. Bottom line, a hunter with competent calling skills will kill ducks using a call made from almost any material so once again it's a matter of personal choice.



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