by Wade Bourne
No one ever accused me of being timid with a duck call. I grew up hunting on a highly competitive public area where if you didn't call aggressively, somebody else would get the birds. In such a situation, calling ducks is like being a kindergarten teacher. Job one is getting and holding their attention.
Through the years, however, I've learned that sometimes just a little calling or none at all can be better than aggressive calling. In certain hunting situations and weather conditions, silence can truly be golden, whereas overcalling will send up warning flags to circling ducks. Thus, a big part of being an effective caller is knowing when to be subtle—or totally silent—and let the ducks work themselves.
In the following situations, less calling may be better, and none may be best:
Warm, still, overcast days
These conditions are generally the least fruitful for calling ducks. On warm, calm, and dark days, ducks often seem especially wary and unresponsive to calling. This may be because these conditions enable the birds to get a better look at the decoys and blind (no glare, no shadows, no buffeting from wind, etc.) and to hear calling more clearly. In these conditions, ducks can more easily detect when the spread, blind, or calling isn't completely natural.
When ducks are coming on their own
Why risk messing up a good thing? If ducks are locked up and descending, why add a new variable into the equation? The birds obviously like what they see (and don't hear), or they wouldn't be dropping toward the decoys. As long as ducks are coming, there's no reason for any vocal persuasion. Just pick up your shotgun, stay hidden, and get ready to shoot.