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Banding Together for Waterfowl

10 Tips from Top Callers

Experts share secrets for calling late-season ducks
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3. Keep it Simple for Snows

Tony Vandemore of Kirksville, Missouri, starts hunting snow geese in the fall and chases them throughout the spring season. An Avery pro-staffer and Zink Calls Z-Unit member, Vandemore is known for his innovation with decoys and different hunting styles.

 But when it comes to calling snow geese, he says most hunters are better off sticking with the basics. “They should concentrate on making one clear, good-sounding call instead of trying to make too much noise,” he says. “Hunters should imitate just one bird making the high-pitched bark that snows make naturally. This is a single note spaced two to three seconds apart.
Sometimes you might alternate from this with two quick notes in succession. But basically, you just make that high single note. Juveniles, especially, will home right in on that.”

When snows are gliding and coming in, Vandemore scales back on the volume and frequency of his calls. But if the birds begin to flap their wings again, he calls louder and faster to try to lock them back up.

“You don’t need the loudest call on the market,” he adds. “You just need a good, clear call that will hold the birds’ attention and pull them down to the decoys.”

4. Try The “RAU-RAU” Call

Mike Boyd of Tunica, Mississippi, hunts on Beaver Dam Lake and has lured thousands of mallards, gadwalls, and other ducks into his cypress tree-lined hole over the last 40 years. He has done this mostly with a quiet, subtle calling style that produces very little echo off the standing timber.

Boyd’s secret calling weapon is an excited chatter that he calls the rau-rau call. “I’ve heard mallards make this call at other ducks that are passing by,” he explains. “It’s different from any other call ducks make. It’s four to five fast single notes that ascend the scale in volume, over and over. It’s a type of chuckle, but it’s more persuasive than a standard monotone feed call.”

Boyd says when ducks circle close, he tones down the rau-rau call. But when they swing away, he ratchets the volume back up. “I test every day for what the birds like best,” he says. “Generally, though, I try not to overcall and just let the ducks work themselves if they will.”

5. Be Aggressive on Stormy Days

Curt Wilson of Oroville, California, is a territory manager for Avery Outdoors and a lifelong duck hunter. Wilson grew up in west Tennessee, and he took calling methods he learned there with him when he moved to the West Coast. Once there, he also learned a few new things about calling Pacific Flyway mallards.

“Back home in Tennessee, the best days for calling ducks were cold and clear with a moderate wind,” Wilson says. “But out here, the best calling days are windy and rainy. This is when you need to be aggressive with your calling—more frequency and louder volume. It’s as if the ducks have trouble hearing you in the wind. So on days like this, I’ll usually call right up until it’s time to shoot. If you let up on the birds, they’ll start sliding away.”

Wilson believes storms stir up ducks, and this is why they respond enthusiastically to his aggressive calling. “It’s as if the storm excites them, and a loud, compulsive calling style is the best match to their mood,” he says.

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