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The Single-Quack Series

The finishing call works like a homing beacon for ducks
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The concept is simple enough. I like to think of the single-quack series as a homing beacon for ducks. It holds their interest and leads them to the source of the calls. The ducks come to the sounds, not the decoys.

When I was an Air Force pilot, I was trained to use flashing lights to guide me to the runway. The single-quack call is the aural equivalent of this visual signal. It is a guide and a focal point for the birds’ attention. Just as the lights led me to the landing zone, the single-quack call steers ducks to the caller.

If birds begin veering off course, the caller should get louder and more insistent with the single-quack call, perhaps even increasing the tempo slightly. When the ducks are back on course, the caller should ease up on the volume and revert to a normal tempo. But don’t stop leading the birds in. I typically continue directing the birds with this call until they are over the decoys and it’s time to shoot.

Many duck hunters are notorious traditionalists and are often hesitant to try new ideas. But I believe the single-quack call would help many hunters decoy more birds. This call is not too aggressive, but when ducks are working your decoys, it’s much more proactive than putting your call away and hoping the birds will come in on their own accord. And, of course, if you try the single-quack call and aren’t happy with the results, you can always go back to your old style of finishing ducks.

Duck calling is an ongoing, trial-and-error process. It’s like a bass angler trying different lures to see which one the fish will hit. Similarly, duck hunters should try different calling approaches: passive or aggressive, loud or soft, high-pitched or mellow notes, etc. Some days ducks will respond best to one style of calling, and on other days, they will respond better to another approach. You have to experiment to see which style works best each day.

Nonetheless, I always rely first on the single-quack call to finish close-working birds, and seldom do I have to change to a more passive calling approach. Each note says, “come to me . . . come to me . . . come to me,” and on most days and in most circumstances, the birds do.

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