By Will Brantley
Jeff Wallis hunts along the Colorado River near his hometown of Yuma, Arizona, and makes and sells his own call lanyards. The company moniker, Widgnwhackers Custom Made Lanyards, is a tribute to his favorite quarry. Wallis often sets up specifically for wigeon, and over the years, he's learned a thing or two about calling these quirky ducks.
"The predominant sound you hear from wigeon is the wha-wee-wee whistle made by the drakes," Wallis says. "Occasionally, you'll also hear a real nasally quack from the hens. There are certain days when they're really vocal, and others when they aren't."
Wallis's wigeon call of choice is the Sauvie Island Wigeon Whistle, a handmade call that can be purchased on his website (www.widgnwhackers.com). "I use air from the diaphragm with this call," Wallis says. "It's not a puff from the cheeks, and it takes some practice. But it really mimics drake sounds."
Wallis believes wigeon, especially in the southern portion of the Pacific Flyway, are a little harder to call than mallards. He usually calls sparingly, even when flocks seem to be responding to his calls.
"If I'm talking to them and they're talking back, I just call from time to time," he says. "But if they start to flare or climb out, I back off and let the decoys do the work. I usually set my wigeon decoys in small family groups along with coot decoys, and I mix in a few gadwall decoys here and there as well."