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Duck call know-how and being mindful of what you say

Now that duck season is in full swing across the province, I think it is time to review the important matter of duck calling.

I’m going to begin by saying that I have one friend who hunts ducks and doesn’t use or even own a duck call. He is, without doubt, the finest caller I know.

I think there is something to be said for admitting that you cannot speak to ducks. There’s certainly no shame in it. You wouldn’t expect to be fluent in German or Italian in a day or even a season. So why would you think you know the complex language of ducks just because you’ve grunted into your new duck call a few times?

That’s the height of arrogance and, if you think about it, kind of insulting to the ducks. 

The truth is all we can do is mimic the noises that ducks make, but what we are saying is probably pure gibberish. And we’d all be better off if we admitted that much.

You might think the complex series of quacks you just emitted means, “Come here! It’s safe and there’s plenty of food. Oh, and later we are having a Donald Duck film festival!”

But you are probably saying, “Hey guys! I enjoy solving complex mathematical equations! Also, has any one of you read Wuthering Heights? I’d love to discuss.”

There is no creature on earth that would turn around and land for that.

Of course, part of the problem is we are not watching for those subtle clues that tell a little about the duck’s reaction. We just assume they like what we are saying.

Clearly, there are some obvious things that are easy to notice and correct. For instance, if a duck stops flapping its wings and places both of them over where its ear holes are, you’re calling probably needs a lot of work.

The good news is it will plummet to earth, where it will remain within easy range for quite a while.

Also, if a duck is coming straight at your decoys and the guy you are hunting with starts calling and the duck does a sudden u-turn away from your blind, politely ask to see his call. Then, when he hands it to you, throw it as far into the marsh as you can. Shoot it on the way in, if possible.

The point I am trying to make is that sometimes a duck call can do more harm than good. The idea of using one is simply to get the birds to notice your decoy spread. After that you should probably shut up or at least tone it down until they lose interest and start flying away. At that point, you’ve got nothing to lose, so call again to your heart’s content. You might actually turn them around by accidentally insulting one of their mothers.

Personally, I like calling ducks. But I also know it has its limitations. I understand going in that most times they will ignore or even strenuously object to my calling. I have no illusions.

That’s OK though, because there are also times when for some inexplicable reason calling works as it should and you turn a duck that will coast right into the decoys that you put out.

I don’t quite understand why. My theory is that some ducks probably enjoy solving complex mathematical problems.

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