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Keep Your Call Warm and Dry

Tips for maintaining the quality of your duck calls
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  • photo by Chris Jennings
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  • You can help yourself immensely by simply by taking care of your call.
  • If a wooden call gets cold overnight, down to freezing, that call is going to expand, and it just might break.
  • Mark the placement of the call pieces with an indelible pen before taking the call apart.
  • Reed replacement is likely for those who hunt long and hard.

Perhaps we have all left calls overnight in our vehicles, or in the blind, at one time or another. Howard Harlan says that's one of the worst moves duck hunters can make. "After using a call all day long, they take it and leave it in their pickup truck," Harlan says. "Duck hunting is done in the wintertime.

My point is, this is an instrument into which you are putting moisture. If a wooden call gets cold overnight, down to freezing, that call is going to expand, and it just might break. Take your call inside with you. Dry it out. Let it air out."

"Manufacturers match reeds to the tone channel to give the hunter the right sound right out of the package," says 1964 world duck calling champion Mick Lacy of Big River Game Calls in Dunlap, Illinois. "Calls can be tuned, but keep in mind that almost all double-reed calls are put together with a wedge that is stacked on top of the tone channel. Putting the components back together in the right order may not be as easy as you might think."

Lacy suggests marking the placement of the pieces with an indelible pen before taking the call apart. Haydel advises scoring the pieces with a sharp knife. Either way, you will know exactly how and where the pieces originally fit. "By some means, you should make a mark on the tone channel so you know where the reed was before the call was taken apart," Lacy says.

"You need to know reed length and block length, or how much of the reed was exposed. Once you have marks where the wedge goes and how far the reed goes, you can play with it until you find the sound you like. The distance you might move the reed is as little as 25- to 50-thousandths of an inch. It does not take a lot to change the sound."

Haydel says reed replacement is likely for those who hunt long and hard. "The guy who hunts every day should probably replace the bottom reed of a double-reed call at least once a year," he says. "Reeds can crack and break, and sometimes they just get out of whack. Having an extra set of reeds with you and knowing how to change them can save the day if something should happen to the reeds in your call."

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