by Rod Haydel
I'll never forget that first time 18 years ago when dad told me to "get on the whistle." We ended up getting about 75 green-winged teal to light in the decoys that morning. Naturally, we had big ducks on our minds so we didn't even shoot, but we could see an immediate change in their attitudes, and the results of the whistle were overwhelming.
Never underestimate the effectiveness of a whistle. Many hunters don't feel the need for whistles simply because they may not have pintails in their area while they may have mallards, widgeon and teal. As we have experienced many times, these four species of ducks DO respond to the whistle. Our most successful hunts last year were late in the season using whistles in conjunction with our mallard calls. I hunt in a very small pothole in the marsh, which is not usually frequented by teal and pintail since they prefer larger bodies of water. The whistle has made a noticeable difference in helping me attain a daily bag limit.
We try to identify the ducks before we call to them so we can speak their language. At times, however, it can be difficult, and when you mistakenly use the wrong call, it can sometimes be to your advantage. A good example is when you are calling to call-shy mallards. Often a pintail whistle will elicit an immediate response, when perhaps a mallard hen call would cause the birds to flare, forcing you to lean on the call even more.