Many hunters simply want to know what the best mallard duck call is. But this question can only be answered by understanding which type of call is needed in a given hunting situation. 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 instrument is best. 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. Let’s take a closer look at what is available on the market to best answer this question.
Open Water - This duck call produces the greatest volume and is 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.
Mid-Range - Located in the middle a good mult-purpose selection when an open water style may be too much but yet a timber style just isn't enough. We use these types a great deal throughout the year because they are extremely versatile and they can be used in a variety of different conditions and terrains. This style usually has both a good sounding low end and fairly simple to control.
Timber Duck Calls - Producing the softest sounds and easy to control this type of call is not 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 ducks, ducks that you're hunting over ice and whenever you need to sound as realistic and natural as possible. Be sure to read Why You Need To Own A Timber Duck Call.
The situations that you hunt in should be the first set of criteria that you use when choosing a duck call. Why do we believe the situations you hunt should impact your selection? Here's why. If you're hunting a large reservoir you need extra volume to attract high flying or distant mallards, a soft sounding timber call is not your best choice. However, if you're hunting that same reservoir on a very quiet or calm day, the timber style will be needed to get the ducks to finish. The same scenario could also be applied to the timber or marshes. Even though most hunters would pick a midrange or low range style for these situations windy days require the volume of an open water style. You would also want to use the open water style for attracting highflying flocks coming back from feeding. If you're like us and hunt a lot of different situations, you will need more than one call to be as effective as possible.
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 duck calls are capable of producing nearly the same volume as a single reed. 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 duck calls do have a tendency to stick when temperatures dip below 40 degrees.
Now I certainly am not going to say you need to use a single reed to kill ducks, but it is my preferred choice. With that being said I still have a double reed timber on my lanyard and really enjoy it's sound and how easy it is to operate.
So what's best choice between acrylic, polycarbonate, or wood? Your budget, choice of appearance, and personal preference. I really don’t think the ducks care. Here are a few other considerations. The denser the material used the louder and crisper the sound produced will most often be. When comparing acrylic to polycarbonate the later are produced from a mold and are not typically hand tuned, while acrylic duck calls are turned on a lathe to tighter tolerances and hand tuned by most manufacturers. Wood will typically produce a more mellow sound, with the only drawback being that the tone may change slightly as the wooden tone board gets wet. When purchasing a wooden call make sure the insert end of the barrel is banded in order to prevent cracking. Bottom line, a good duck call operator will kill ducks with all three material types.