It is often believed that a reliable duck call is among the essential resources required to hunt ducks. Without one, you cannot lure the birds to get out of their hiding place.
These duck calls may sound complicated at first. However, with our step-by-step guide, you can learn the art of making a duck mouthpiece and mastering the art of blowing a call.
We’ve divided this guide into two sections: the first focuses on making the calls at home, and the second on learning how to sound like a professional duck caller.
Making A Duck Call: Step By Step Guide
Below you’ll find what materials and tools you need to create a duck call at home, as well as a step-by-step guide on building a duck call at home.
- Metal rings
- One Metal reed
- Decorative inlays
- Two Wood dowels – two inches diameter, four inches height
- Insert jig
- Band saw
- Wood tools
Step 1: Drilling
Start by drilling a ⅝” hole through the center of the dowel. You must prepare the hole through the wood piece according to its length. The longer your dowel, the deeper your call shall sound. Take the help of a mandrel to affix your dowel to the lathe.
Step 2: Carving
The next step is to take a gouge tool and shape the wooden piece into a round shape. Since the dowel is already round, you can give details to the wood by creating outer curves. Decide a form you wish to carve into the barrel and finalize the design.
Additionally, create a tiny cavity at the end of your barrel for a metal ring. A caliper will measure the band’s diameter to help fit the metal ring perfectly. Individuals can now sand the barrel as per their liking. The smoother you file, the richer it will look and feel.
Step 3: Shaping the exhaust
This step involves creating an insert that allows the instrument to make its glorious sound. Begin the process by turning the insert on your lathe. Start shaping the exhaust to a rounded shape, then focus on turning the rest of the insert to ⅝ inches, ensuring a snug fit.
At this stage, the insert will be more extended than we might need. Now create a narrow channel where the insert meets the exhaust. This channel will hold your O-ring afterward.
Step 4: Shaping the exhaust bell
It would help if you started shaping the exhaust bell while the insert is still on the lathe. After the exhaust, you can begin drilling the tone channel.
Affix a drill chuck on the lathe’s tail and use a ¼-inch drill bit. Slowly carve the tone channel of correct depth, starting from the tip to the exhaust end.
Now begin tapering off the inside of the exhaust bell with a stepper. After you’ve finished sanding the insert, it’s time to cut the insert. An easy way to achieve this is by cutting from the top to the bottom of the cork notch.
Then proceed to cut all the way down at the front. This final cut will automatically remove the top of your cork notch. Consider giving it a few scratches and twists inside.
Step 5: Tuning the call
Get ready to tune the call by taking a piece of the cork, single reed, and fitting them into the cork notch. Ensure that the reed’s bend is facing away from the insert’s wood.
You can find this bend by resting the reed on a table and pressing it lightly with your finger. This step will naturally bend the reed in one direction.
Lastly, while putting the reed inside the insert, ensure that the bend should always face away from the wall. Tuning your homemade call is usually about reshaping the reed either longer or shorter.
The last step to tuning your call is to bend the end of the reed by clipping its corners at a 45° angle.
Step 6: Adding the O-ring
Once you have placed your reed and cork in the right place, finish the call by sliding your O-ring onto the insert. Now slide your tuned insert into the barrel, blow and practice your duck calls.
Blowing Duck Calls: A Step By Step Guide
Making a duck call with zero experience can feel intimidating, but our step-by-step guide can help you learn the correct way to blow duck calls like a professional hunter.
Step 1: Quality single reed call
You can start practicing with your homemade instrument because it will make a great first mouthpiece. But if you don’t want to make it yourself, we recommend that young hunters buy a good quality single reed call.
With a good call, you’ll always be able to make clear and natural sounds. Any cheap duck call will be easier on your wallet, but it will give you a lousy duck call that even the ducks will recognize as fake.
Step 2: Learning to blow air
The first step toward learning how to make duck calls is to practice blowing air into your duck call. You can build up your lung stamina and capacity by pronouncing “Haah” continuously.
Once you understand the proper way to expel the air from your lungs, try to use your vocal cords to mimic the same. This step is the base of any duck call, so practice it for the longest time.
Step 3: Holding the duck call with proper lip placement
You cannot expect to blow a perfect duck call without holding the instrument accurately. Hold the insert of your preferred call with your trigger hand to clutch the piece properly.
That is the safest way to grip your device and gun simultaneously. A good tip is to hold your duck call like a tennis racket. Your index and middle fingers should ideally rest on the back of your call while your thumb positions itself on the top.
Practice holding the duck call with single and double hands, so you use whichever seems the most accessible during the hunt. The mouth’s placement is equally important to get the ideal sounds. Place your duck call just as you place any average water bottle on your lips. Now you can deliver the air into your instrument from your diaphragm to hear a low reference note.
Step 4: The base quack
The quack is undoubtedly the most basic duck call and layers perfectly with other duck calls. However, remember that the best-sounding quacks have a definite and pronounced end sound.
Beginners can start from the typical “Quack-Quack” and immediately move towards “QuaCK” by cutting the air off the diaphragm. Once you have successfully mastered the low ducky note, try to utter words like “Kwit,” “Whit,” and “Dwit” for short and crisp ducky sounds.
After mastering these three words’ sounds, you can now produce excellent notes of three different ducks to lure any target.
Step 5: Advanced calls
A greeting call or a pleading call are some of the advanced calls ducks use to communicate with. Find out more about those below.
A greeting call consists of five quacks with a different pitch for every subsequent blow. The first quack is always a high-pitched sound with a long drag, while the end should be low quacks of short breaths.
This simple five-note series is usually called a greeting call that will come in handy during most duck hunting adventures. In a string, these calls should sound like an echo with the most high-pitched sound at the start. We recommend using this sound when you spot a few ducks in the distance.
The pleading or begging hail call is another simple call that can attract ducks instantly. However, we recommend blowing this call up to 200 yards above your position to catch any bird’s attention.
This call consists of six or five “Knack” sounds that hunters must slowly draw to beg the duck to land nearby. Avoid overusing this sound as the constant pleading can alert the birds, which may result in a scary commotion.
Any introductory duck feed call resembles the sounds of “Tikki Tukka Tikki,” featuring a slight raise and lowering of volume with every call.
This specific call is excellent for adding variety to your pack. Furthermore, the call always attracts the birds irrespective of the location and terrain. A perfect feed call starts with a slightly loud sound which gets quiet and again builds a loud note towards the end of the ring.
This call will come in clutch when hunters encounter shy birds that do not respond to sounds. Not many hunters prefer to use this call, but this lonesome hen call might work wonders when nothing works to lure the ducks.
Hunters must drag a long and spaced-out “Quaaaink” sound that sometimes resembles a variation of the basic “Quack.” However, be wary of the notes, as too quick notes scare off these ducks.
Step 6: Species call
There are species-specific calls, naturally. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular fuck species and their signatgure calls.
Pintail calls are one of the most common ones that require hunters to place the mouthpiece between their lips while holding it with the front teeth. Place your hand securely on the instrument while clutching the outside edge with your thumb and ring finger.
Similarly, use the middle finger to effectively block the end of your call, as this placement will force the air and sound through the top hole. Now, blow into your instrument while simultaneously rolling the tongue for a thrilling pintail sound.
Your goal should be to push short bursts of sound, so the call rings like a group of pintails. The cadence of these sounds has to be somewhat erratic with “Peep-Pause, Peep-Pause, Peep-Peep-Peep” fluctuations.
Mallard drake can be easily replicated by placing your instrument between your lips while snugly holding it with the front teeth. With the duck call in position, start saying “Dweeet” as deeply as humanly possible.
This technique creates an exciting mallard duck sound to lure your target. Another trick is to cleanly hum or buzz “Whaaat” into your mouthpiece. This low hum makes a deep raspy quack that resembles the drake mallard.
Wigeon is the easiest cry to replicate as you do not have to focus on a sound but on words. Place your mouthpiece between your lips and hold tight with your front teeth.
To get the wigeon sound, murmur the words “Who We Who” with a strong and pronounced emphasis on the “We” syllable. When called several times, it should sound like a flock of noisy wigeons.
Start by placing your duck call loosely between your lips and holding it firmly with your front teeth. Blow out the tiniest yet sharp burst of air by making it produce a short “Chirp” as quickly as possible.
We recommend repeating this tune several times to sound like a real greenwing teal strolling around the area.
Try to keep the cadence as erratic as possible to get the most authentic teal sound. A good example can be “Chirp-Pause, Chirp-Chirp-Pause, Chirp,” which sounds like a real duck.
Another easy bird call is the wood duck, wherein hunters should say the word “Toowheeet” while blowing out the air. This noise sounds similar to the whine of a wood duck, thus instantly attracting your target strolling in the nearby area.
Last but surely not least is the bobwhite quail that sounds a little sharp, especially at places with minimal surround sound. To get their famous call, use your thumb and ring finger to hold the outside of the bell end while blocking the hole with your middle finger.
This placement shall force the air to exit from the top cavity. Now say” Bob-Bob-White,” but deflect your middle finger ever so slightly while saying the word “White.”
Step 7: Practice
Practicing these calls once or twice a week will surely not help you master the art of duck calling. You must religiously follow all the steps necessary for making the duck calls while giving each ring a dedicated timespan to bloom.
Switching between multiple mouthpieces will help you gauge the exact differences, further helping you select your favorite piece. People can also learn the nuances and rhythms of each sound by watching videos or listening to sound recordings.
With that tip, we have reached the end of our guide on duck hunting calls. We hope novice hunters, in particular, have learned how duck calls can tremendously help them go back home with a catch.
About the author
Since the first time his brothers and cousing took Scott hunting, he knew it was going to become his lifelong passion. 30 years later, he started DecoyPro - a blog where he shares knowledge and information with other hunting enthusiasts
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