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Waterfowl Hunters - Call Those Ducks and Geese With a Passion

Jul 3, 2008
If the great American Mark Twain (Samuel Clements) had been a duck or waterfowl hunter he might well have been quoted that "Waterfowl calling is 90 % art. The half can be said to be what some call 'science'". True the science part of duck calling can be learned but the artistic ability comes only with practice, time, great devotion, patience as well as a measure of simple natural talents.

In the waterfowling world Canadians can be said to be considered generally poor "duck or waterfowl callers" in comparison to their American hunting cousins. The simple reason and explanation for this is that in the United States competition for shooting is intense, because of the high concentration of birds on the wintering grounds and subsequent high concentrations of hunters out for those same waterfowl. Canadian waterfowl on the other hand, especially in the fall. are generally widespread with a large proportion of inexperienced, young of the year birds. It can be held as a result that they are considerably less "blind shy" and suspicious. Also much of the duck's vocabulary relates to its courtship rituals. They communicate largely for reasons of love, but do not form their pair bonds until late in the fall, that is when most Canadian waters are frozen.

Nevertheless most Canadian duck or goose hunters head afield with a call. It might be guesses or estimated that their calling helps their hunting results and effectiveness less than half of the time. There are ways to call those birds, and ways to call those ducks and geese.

In upland game bird circles it can be held that the mallard is the duck most imitated by bird callers. What is amazing is how many if not most hunters out for mallards do not even realize that the simple "quack" that is commonly attributed to "mallards" comes from the female mallard duck - the "hen" only. Indeed the male drake mallard has a sharp raspy voice that few, if many hunters would recognize. The good news and corollary is that if you do hear, and recognize the distinct call of the drake mallard - then that means that he is most likely in range.

It can be said that if you are going to master one bird call - then the one to learn , as a good start - is the most popular duckcall of them all - the "highball". "The highball can be said to be a loud attention grabbing vocalization that is best used when girls are flying high and basically away from your set up. Also referred to as the "hail" call or also as the "come back "call, its primary purpose is to turn birds to your direction when they obviously have other plan on their minds. In terms of the use, practice and application of this waterfowl call, it can be said that if there is one rule or recommendation concerning the "highball" waterfowl call that is not to be shy about using this call, if you discover or quickly come to the conclusion on the fly, that the birds or what you might call "your birds" are flying away from your spread. You cannot do a lot of harm. On the other hand if the birds are already on their way to you - then why take a chance of scaring the birds and having them change course away from you.

In the end waterfowl calling is both an art and a science along with some natural talent. Take the time and the energy to devote yourself to learning , practicing and experimenting with some of the hardware , skills and tricks of the trade - when it comes to calling those precious waterfowl - whether they be ducks or geese.
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