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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Clean Up Your Call

Routine maintenance and summer practice can be crucial to success when opening day arrives
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  • photo by Bill Buckley
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Story at a Glance
  • Good duck callers are made, not born
  • Call care and cleaning are essential
  • Don't forget to read the birds – this is practice you can achieve only when you are out in the field

So, where do you go to practice all this calling? Neither my wife nor my neighbors appreciate my squawking in the backyard. Dogs bark. Babies start crying. And the elderly peek from behind their curtains. It just doesn't work in my neighborhood.

I go out to the country, preferably near a pond or river. With no one around to complain, I can let it all out, good and bad. Take along a tape recorder and play it back to see how you sound doing each of the basic calls, or calls in a series. This will give you insight on what you need to work on to improve.

If questions remain, check out one of the many duck-calling videos or CDs now on the market. Listen to what the experts have to say about calling techniques and when to use what call.

Many years ago, while living less than a half-mile from a marshy area that held its share of mallards every fall, I learned a great deal about actual duck sounds. Think about it. How can you go wrong listening to the real deal?

Call care and cleaning

Duck calls get dirty, inside and out. Besides the cosmetic aspect, a little mud on a call's exterior does no harm. The interior, however, is another story. Gunked-up reeds can definitely inhibit a call's performance. Any type of buildup on a duck call reed can alter the sound of the call or make it stick and lock up. But a little preseason maintenance will help prevent that from happening to your favorite calls.

Cleaning can be as simple as running tap water through your call. Or, if you have a plastic or acrylic call, soak it in a bowl containing a combination of mild soap and water. Rinse well, and let the call dry. To finish, work a piece of dental floss between and under the reeds.

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