Choosing a new call should be fun, but all the available options can make it an intimidating task. Factors to consider are material, number of reeds, range and volume, and price. Like a good shotgun, the call also needs to fit you individually – the shape of the call and style of the mouthpiece needs to suit your style of calling.
Start by determining the factor above that is most important to you and narrow it down from there, understanding the characteristics of each option. A full description of each of these options is below.
The number of reeds used in a call have a lot to do with the range of sounds the call can make, as well as the ease of operation. Single reed calls offer a broader range of volume and tone, but they typically require better air control and correct tongue pressure on the part of the caller. Simply put, a single reed call is more versatile but requires solid mechanics. Single reed calls can normally get louder than double reed calls can.
Double reed calls are user-friendly and produce accurate duck vocalizations with more forgiveness when it comes to air control and mechanics. This makes double reed calls an ideal choice for hunters of all skill levels because they are easy to learn with, as well as being reliable for experienced callers. Double reeds sacrifice a little bit of volume and don’t have the full range of tone like a single reed.
Duck hunters benefit from using both single and double reed calls. Different hen mallards have different tones, so being able to vary the sound of your calling will play to your advantage – especially on pressured ducks.
What's the difference in each type of call material?
Waterfowl calls are primarily made of three main materials: polycarbonate, wood, and acrylic. Each option has different characteristics.
Polycarbonate is essentially bulletproof plastic, similar to Plexiglas®. Its dense composition gives it excellent acoustic qualities, it is very durable, and it is affordable for both manufacturers and hunters. Wood calls have a classic traditional look and make very attractive calls. The wood used in game calls is dense enough to produce a high-quality sound. The downside to wooden calls is that they are affected by temperature, humidity, and moisture more so than polycarbonate or acrylic. Acrylic calls are highly durable and offer consistent density with excellent acoustical qualities. The material comes in a variety colors and can easily be polished, making for very beautiful calls. Acrylic material is more expensive for manufacturers and requires precise machining processes, so it also makes for a more expensive finished product.
Getting Familiar With Your New Call
Effectively using a game call is a skill and, like any skill, it is developed through practice, good fundamentals, and repetition. You've probably heard a fellow hunter talk about a skilled caller and say something like "he's a natural" or "I just can't call like that", but the truth is that person probably worked hard to become a good caller. Anyone can learn to blow a duck or goose call proficiently. Of course, some people seem to pick it up faster or more easily than others, but anyone can learn to be a good caller. Our best advice is to focus on the fundamentals of proper air presentation and the basic sounds of the waterfowl we hunt - quacks for ducks, and honks for geese. Spend a little extra time building a solid foundation and the more advanced calling techniques will come easier.