Quack Quack Quack

There’s a spe­cial feel­ing hun­ters get when they suc­ceed in call­ing a mob from on high. An­tic­i­pa­tion builds as they re­spond and wheel around, show­ing in­ter­est in the de­coy spread where the calls are com­ing from. Call­ing is an art that mar­ries per­fectly wit

Field and Game - - MASTERING THE DUCK CALL -

John By­ers makes the pop­u­lar Poddy Bay Aus­tralian Duck Calls and he of­fers some sim­ple ad­vice on pro­duc­ing the ba­sic quack call. “The ba­sics of suc­cess with duck hunt­ing is first to be where the ducks want to be, the sec­ond thing you need is good con­ceal­ment, the third is a good spread of de­coys and the fourth is a good qual­ity duck call,” he said.

“Prefer­ably it will be an Aus­tralian call, which is set up to call Aus­tralian duck species; there are plenty of good ones around.”

John said be­gin­ners should prac­tice in front of a mir­ror ini­tially and raise the call to their lips as they would a bot­tle of soft drink (or a beer) by plac­ing it on the bot­tom lip and rolling it up to the top lip.

John’s ad­vice is to use the word ‘VERT’ as the start­ing point for mak­ing the right sound. “A com­mon mis­take for new­bies is blow­ing from their cheeks; they fill their mouth with air and puff out their cheeks and blow,” he said. “The air should orig­i­nate from the di­aphragm and be pushed out through your mouth, over your tongue.”

An­other tip for be­gin­ners is to turn the call around and blow through the ex­haust. “Blow­ing through the op­po­site end makes it eas­ier to get the ‘vert, vert’ sound but also to feel the vi­bra­tion of your lips so you get that raspy sound. “It is a good way to feel it on your lips so you know you are shap­ing the right sound.”

Once you are mak­ing the right sound, it is time to add some flare to the ba­sic quack.

“If you lis­ten to a duck, it starts off at a low tone and then fin­ishes with a kick up or in­flec­tion at the end and you can as­sist that hap­pen­ing by chok­ing your hand at the start of the call and open­ing the hand at the end,” John said.

The hand should be curled around the open­ing and not cov­er­ing it. “That creates a high pitch at the end and with a lit­tle prac­tice you will quickly mas­ter the ba­sic quack call.”

Now you are ready to ex­per­i­ment in the field, John has some ad­vice on call­ing eti­quette.

“There is a term ‘cold call­ing’, which ba­si­cally means some­one is call­ing in­ces­santly, which is OK if you are away

by your­self, but if you have other hun­ters around, the best prac­tice is to only call when you are try­ing to en­tice birds in,” he said.

“Cold call­ing can work but it is a bit like sing­ing in the shower, it might not be pleas­ant for ev­ery­body else.”

Com­pe­ti­tion be­tween calls for the same ducks is all part of the hunt­ing game.

“It is part of the sport: if you can use your call to pull birds off a mate who is 100 m away from you, that is fair game in my view.” “Es­pe­cially if you are us­ing a Poddy Bay duck call and he isn’t,” he chuck­les.

John rec­om­mends any hunter who is not cur­rently us­ing call­ing as part of their reper­toire should try it. Call­ing adds an­other dy­namic to duck hunt­ing and a sense of sat­is­fac­tion you do not get from tak­ing pass­ing birds.

“It is a sense of achieve­ment, just as it is when your de­coy spread works or the dog you have spent many hours train­ing does a dif­fi­cult re­trieve,” he said. “When you have a bird head­ing for parts un­known and you lay into it with a call and it turns on its head and flares into your de­coys, it is a great sense of sat­is­fac­tion and the ac­tual shoot­ing of the bird pales into in­signif­i­cance; the sat­is­fac­tion is the craft you have ap­plied to the task.”

John lives and breathes duck hunt­ing: he col­lects calls, de­coys and other para­pher­na­lia and rev­els in the art form. For him, wad­ing out into a swamp and stand­ing by a tree wait­ing for birds to fly by is not truly hunt­ing. “It is more duck shoot­ing and they are a di­min­ish­ing breed. The true duck hun­ters are the ones who put to­gether the whole pack­age: scout­ing, ob­serv­ing and then set­ting up to at­tract the birds with de­coys and calls,” he said.

The com­bi­na­tion en­sures birds are brought into the op­ti­mal kill zone, re­duc­ing wound­ing, and mak­ing re­trieval of shot birds eas­ier.

“It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to train new­com­ers so they be­come duck hun­ters,” John said.

Watch John By­ers duck call ba­sics video at www.fiel­dandgame.com.au and learn more about his Aus­tralian made duck calls at www.pod­dy­bay.com

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