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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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6. Call Less; Make it Mean More

Barnie Calef of Palo, Iowa, is a three-time world champion duck caller and the founder of Calef Calls, makers of fine duck and goose calls. He has years of guiding experience in the upper Midwest. Calef believes that ducks are warier now than ever, so he’s gone to a more natural calling style.

“When ducks are within calling range, blow some type of call at them—a hail call, greeting call, feeding call, whatever—and watch their reaction,” he advises. “If they turn toward your decoys, ease off on the calling. Then, when they start to leave, hit them again with the call they reacted positively to before. This is the call you should stick with to get them to come in.

“I find myself calling less and making it mean more,” Calef adds. “I think if you blow at the right time and with a call the birds like, you’re better off with a lot less calling. Personally, I use a five-note greeting call just about all the time now.”

7. Double-Cluck for Call-Shy Canadas

Jason Connellee of Port Deposit, Maryland, is an Avery and Zink Calls pro-staffer and an avid, longtime Canada goose hunter. In years past, he has pursued honkers in Canada, the upper Midwest, and around Chesapeake Bay.

Sometimes Connellee hunts places where several groups of hunters may be calling to the same flock of geese. He says this kind of pressure educates the birds, and they soon learn to ignore standard calling styles.

But he has an ace up his sleeve. “When a flock is coming over the field, I don’t call to them. Instead, I let them fly by, and when they get about 200 yards past me, I blow a sudden, loud series of comeback calls,” Connellee explains. “Basically, these are three strings of fast double-clucks that sound like two geese clucking back and forth to each other.”

Connellee says double-clucks are calls of excitement or aggression. “Put these strings of double-clucks together, and it sounds like birds on the ground are excited or protective of a food source. Many times this will cause the passing geese to believe the decoys are real, and they’ll cut back to them,” he says.

8. Stop Canadas From Landing Short

J. R. Adkins of Rogersville, Tennessee, is a member of the Knight and Hale Game Calls pro staff, and he’s an avid Canada goose hunter and competition caller. He won the Tennessee state goose calling championship in 2006.

Adkins says it’s common for geese to be coming to decoys and then land short by a couple of hundred yards. When most callers see this happening, they give up. “It’s as if they resign themselves to the fact that the geese are about to land out of range, and they continue making the same clucks and moans (laydown calls) they were blowing when the geese were approaching.”

But Adkins doesn’t give up. When incoming honkers are about to land short, he “pours the coal to them,” switching to very loud, fast, excited calling to pull the birds those last few yards. “What I blow is wild-sounding. It’s really off the wall, but it’s unreal how well the geese respond to it,” he says. “Then once they pick back up and keep coming, I change back to regular laydown calls. It’s as if the geese are thinking, ‘Something’s going on over there, and we’d better go take a look.’ And they usually do.”

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