Both Cullum and Curtis, after spending countless hours listening to live ducks, say they have categorized four types of sounds generated by mallard hens. Recognizing that ducks, like people, speak in different pitches and tones, they have developed a calling style that is a mix of what they consider the basic sounds. This is a personalized method that works for them.
"There's what we call a fine hen, who hardly opens her throat, and whose call tapers off at the end. And a coarse hen, which will open her throat more wide open. A lazy hen will drag out the notes. And the bouncin' hen, she'll hit a couple of notes and then just bounce it all the way to the bottom, excited," Cullum says. "Those are the four main sounds you'll hear. Get them together with two guys calling and it sounds like a lot of ducks."
Game-call maker Will Primos of Jackson, Mississippi, says team calling may have been around as long as duck calls themselves. Putting a label on this technique may or may not be appropriate.
"No doubt, it's more effective to have more than one caller," Primos says. "I don't do anything but team call. But, we don't really call it that, because we probably take it for granted."
Primos and his cohorts observe a few basic rules when working together trying to pull ducks to their decoys. "There is definitely a right and wrong way," Primos says. "What we do, let's say one guy sees a group of six mallards. He knows right then they need a certain call. He latches on to them. The first thing I do is look at that person to see where he is looking, where the ducks are, because I don't want to be moving around and having them see me. I want to know where the birds are. Then, we key into the birds, feeding off what he is doing. You don't want three guys doing the comeback or the hail call at one time.
"What we are trying to do is add to what he's doing. The guy who latches onto the birds first is in control, and the rest of us are supporting him. If you watch and listen to ducks on the water, one old hen is doing most of the work. We try to mimic that."