The 10 Best Duck Calls
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Whether you're a seasoned hunter in it for the thrill of the chase, or you're a nature photographer looking to get a close-up of colorful plumage, the duck calls on this list are designed to produce a variety of sounds that will lure your subject closer to your blind or position. They're made of many different materials, from wood to plastic, and are priced to meet anyone's budget. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
February 25, 2020:
When it comes to duck calls, one of the first things to decide is whether you want a plastic or wooden variety. Wood calls, like the Faulk's Game Deluxe WA33 tend to have a mellower call than acrylic models, which makes them a good choice for close up calling situations. Of course, it is important to be familiar and well versed in using whichever call you own or it won't be very effective, so it can be a smart choice to go with the Duck Commander Jase Robertson Pro Series, which is available in both wood and synthetic options. This way, you can use your acrylic model when you need to produce a loud call to bring in waterfowl from afar, and switch to your wood unit once they get in close, while still utilizing a somewhat similar blowing technique.
If you have a tendency to get your calls wet, or have had experiences in the past where your call doesn't work well because it gets filled with saliva, you may want to consider the Echo Calls Diamondwood Timber, which hardly seems to be hindered by moisture at all, or the Buck Gardner Double Nasty, which is guaranteed to blow even when full of spit.
While many options are designed to entice mallards, the Duck Commander Wood is specifically designed to bring in wood ducks, so if that is your prey of choice, it is a smart option. For those who haven't quite been able to master a traditional call, we have included the Primos Feedin' Mallard. You can simply rattle this model by hand and it accurately replicates the sound of feeding ducks.
SureShot Game Calls Yentzen Easy to blow and with an authentic sound, the Yentzen is a basic model that is a good choice for beginners, though even many experienced hunters may use it as their go-to call. It works well in high-moisture conditions and comes from a well-respected company in the industry. sureshotgamecalls.com
Hobo Prime Meat Not only is this Kent Cullum’s favorite call, it was used to win the 2008 World Live Duck Championship, so you can rest assured it will bring those waterfowl to you. It can produce a loud scream that carries well for a long distance, and when your prey gets closer, you can use it to whine and beg. hoboduckcalls.com
How A Duck Call Works
Each duck call, no matter the model, will have a tone board, a barrel, an insert, a wedge and the aforementioned reed.
Duck calls work similarly to a clarinet; the person using them blows air through a mouthpiece, and that air makes a thin piece of material called a reed begin to vibrate. The vibration of the reed creates the desired sound. In the case of a duck call, that sound mimics a real duck. Duck hunters use these to attract their prey. Each duck call, no matter the model, will have a tone board, a barrel, an insert, a wedge and the aforementioned reed. One can think of the barrel like the main body of a whistle because it's the area through which wind blows. The insert is just a small piece of material that holds the tone board, which then holds the reed. The insert is held in place by a wedge.
While there are around eight main duck calls that most hunters should know, there are nearly countless sounds the animal can make, so there are several varieties of the tool. The length of the reed directly affects the call's pitch because it determines how far the vibration has to move. A longer reed creates a lower sound, and a shorter reed creates a higher one. The thickness of the reed affects the volume of the sound. Thicker reeds produce more volume, and thin ones create a smaller sound.
Thicker barrels tend to create a lower, warmer sound because the reed's vibrations cannot escape as easily as they do in a thin barrel. Reversely, thin barrels will result in high-pitched calls. Some duck calls contain two reeds and can produce far more complex sounds. The user also plays a large role in the type of duck sound produced. Experienced duck hunters know just where to cup the tool, how hard to blow, and a number of other tricks that can perfectly manipulate the resulting sound.
The History Of Duck Calls
Hunters have been using duck sounds to attract their prey since the late 1600s. Originally, hunters would use actual ducks to attract even more fowl. They would trap a group of ducks in one place, and the animals' calls would lure in more prey. The first mechanical duck call didn't come about until the 1850s. A man named Elam Fisher patented the first duck call in 1870.
In the late 1880s, a company called P.S. Olt sold duck calls in mail order catalogs for between twenty cents and two dollars a piece.
In the late 1880s, a company called P.S. Olt sold duck calls in mail order catalogs for between twenty cents and two dollars a piece. Olt became well known for their hard rubber duck calls that were not only water resistant but also allowed the user to adjust the tone of the tool. Before these rubber varieties, most manufacturers used walnut, cedar or rosewood which, while elegant in appearance, would quickly become warped from any moisture. Today plastic and acrylic are popular materials because they have properties that make them ideal for hunting, but some duck callers still prefer the classic look of a wooden model.
Throughout the early 1900s, more manufacturers and individuals started improving the duck call. In the 1920s, a man named Charles Ditto developed the Eureka model that had a brass reed, and by the 1930s, father and son duo Clarence and Dudley Faulk made some of the first plastic varieties. The Faulks produced their product at just the right time, because in 1935, the United States banned the use of live ducks to attract prey and artificial duck calls became increasingly popular.
Tips For Duck Hunters
Camouflage-style clothing is essential for any duck hunter to conceal their presence from their prey, but people can go one step further by using real vegetation. Whether hunting in a boat, or on the ground, one can string up some rope around them and cover it with leaves and bundles of shrubbery. Timing is important, too. Migrating flocks tend to stop for a break around late morning, so hunters can benefit by waiting in the blind (this is where a hunter hides while they wait for their prey) after most people have left.
Hunters should position themselves such that ducks would have to fly against the wind to escape since this will slow them down.
It's important that one regularly cleans their duck call, too, since any dirt or debris can affect the sound it produces. To clean a duck call, one can simply remove the stopper from the barrel and soak both of these in a bit of water and soap for a half an hour. Any remaining particles can be removed with dental floss. Hunters should also know how to best use a decoy. If a hunter is working in an open area where fowl can easily get a good look at their decoy, they should skip using one altogether.
Duck hunters should always know the direction of the wind, as there are techniques they can take to improve their odds of hunting in an unfavorable wind. If they stand with their weapons pointing in the same direction that the wind is moving, this can put them at a disadvantage. This positioning means that they're shooting ducks that are already moving in the same direction as the wind. If their prey becomes aware of them, the wind will help them fly away even faster. Hunters should position themselves such that ducks would have to fly against the wind to escape since this will slow them down.