The Hottest Waterfowl Calls

Don't head to the duck or goose blind until you've sampled these calls! (December 2006)

When it comes to hunting ducks or geese, that old saying still rings true: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

With all our so-called modern refinements, duck and goose hunting basically boils down to the hunter getting the birds as close as possible. Then as now, drawing the birds near depends mostly on calling and decoying.

So what's changed? Plenty, including the materials and methods that master call makers are using to turn out the best calls of their careers; the calls hunters use to "talk" to waterfowl.

Here are some prime examples of the makers' art.

PocketRocket

POCKET ROCKET CALL

When Buck Gardner says there has never been a single or double reed duck call with more range than his company's new Pocket Rocket, he's not just blowing in the wind. He means it.

"We guarantee that the call will never stick or you can have your money back," Gardner said.

This, using Buck's words, is "a revolutionary product." Buck said it has a suggested retail price of $39.99.

"The big thing is that this is an extension of our spit tech technology," Buck said. "It's now available in a polycarbonate version with a buck brush short barrel. The cool thing about these calls is that they will blow when they are full of spit."

Better still, Buck said they'll sound even better then. "The big thing that everybody wants is a duck call that sounds awesome. This call, believe me, sounds awesome."

Pollywood

THE POLYWOOD CALL

The moment you open the box and unwrap the paper surrounding Buck Gardner's other new call, it's obvious that you've purchased a call maker's work of art. We're talking about the latest addition to the Buck Gardner Calls family: the PolyWood call.

"PolyWood Calls is something that people have wanted for a long time," Buck said. "They want the beauty of wood and there is a little bit of difference in the resonance of a wood barrel. The traditionalist wants that in a duck call. What we did was give them that and combined it with our Polycarbonate insert."

Hence, the name PolyWood Calls, which combines

wood and polycarbonate to give what Buck calls "the best of both worlds."

According to Buck, one of his polycarbonate inserts will never change once it's tuned right and sounds right. In addition, the wooden barrel displays the beauty of a traditional wooden duck call, which many people want.

"This product has become popular in the last few years because people have begun to understand that you really don't need to have a wooden insert in your call," Buck said.

And why not, you ask? Well, for one reason, it's going to swell and change, Buck said. In addition, the grain begins to rise on the tone board and after a year or two, the call begins to sound dramatically different.

"The sound will change in a wooden tone board," Buck said. "A lot of times, people will pull out their call after not using it for a year and they'll say, 'Something has happened to my call.' Actually, it's just the wood. What happened is that the last time they used it, it was wet and then it dried and it just had a little fuzz come up on the tone board and it just changes the way they sound."

The new PolyWood Calls also feature a double-penned, glued and friction-fitted brass band that will never come off, Buck said.

Web site: BuckGardner.com

HS Custom Ringer

HS RINGER 2 DUCK CALL

Hunter's Specialties Custom Series Ringer 2 Call is fast becoming the call of choice for serious waterfowlers. That's because the Ringer 2 is a highly versatile field call that has the range to blow full, ringing hail calls, yet can be blown quietly for close-in calling without sacrificing sound quality. It's easy to operate for experienced callers and beginners alike.

Each call is turned from solid custom acrylic and features a stainless steel band for strength and good looks. Both single and double reed models are available. The single reed calls feature an innovative tone board that prevents sticking.

For 2006, several new colors will be available. Hunters can choose from green bottle, juice and chartreuse in addition to the original cobalt blue, mallard, ivory, smoke and black versions. Suggested retail price is $169.99.

For more information, visit www.hunterspec.com; write to 6000 Huntington Court NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402; or call a consumer service specialist at (319) 395-0321.

Duck Picker

THE DUCK PICKER

Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander, has built his reputation as a hardcore duck hunter, as well as for his superb calls and heart-stopping video series. New for this season is the Duck Picker that asks the question of waterfowl hunters, "Want to reach up and pick 'em out of the sky?"

"This is the duck call that will do it," Phil says.

A result of 30 years of call making and perfecting that exact ducky sound, the Duck Picker blows wet, dry and in between, long, medium and short range, and works equally well in green timber, on open fields or big water.

For more information, contact Duck Commander Products, 1978 Brownlee Road, Calhoun, LA 71225; or call (877) 396-761

2. Their Web site is DuckCommander.com

Quaker Boys Shorty Hybrid

QUAKER BOY GOOSE CALLS

I have amassed a sizable collection of calls over the years, but necessity forces me to pick a very few to hang around my neck when I go afield. When the game is Canada geese, I most often rely on a Quaker Boy, thanks to functionality, price and success.

Quaker Boys Wingmaster

New this year is the Shorty Hybrid Goose Flute, which offers the best of both worlds. The Shorty is built like a blown-type call but with a short reed. The sound quality produced is comparable to a flute-type call. This call produces excellent calls with minimal practice. The retail price is $19.99.

The Wingmaster Goose Call is user-friendly and very realistic. It works like a standard blown-type goose call, yet has the sound quality of a modern flute call. Its simple-to-master quality and low $19.99 price make it tough to beat.

Check the Web site at

QuackerBoyGameCalls.com

Primo Loretta Hen

PRIMOS CALLS

The Loretta Hen mallard call is a classy double-reed duck call that's crafted from select hardwood. The stopper is shaped to fit the contour of your hand, giving you a comfortable hold. The hardwood barrel and stopper allows you to reproduce the sounds that ducks literally die for. From subtle close-in calling to loud-mouth nagging, this call will do it all. Retail price is $44.99.

Also from Primos is the acrylic P.H.A.T. Lady. The custom acrylic call is hand tuned, and each one is individually turned and polished from cast acrylic and complemented with laser engraving. This Arkansas-style, single-reed call has a large sound port designed for increased volume, which is ideal for open-water hunting. Primos named this call the P.H.A.T. Lady because she sounds Pretty, Hot And Tempting!

P.H.A.T Lady in new color combos retail for $99.99. Check out the Web site at Primos.com

Roy Rhodes Duck Call

ROY RHODES DUCK CALL

Once again, Roy Rhodes has created a masterpiece, a single-reed duck call that blows wet. The Duck Slayer has a unique in-line groove system placed in strategic spots along the tone board to prevent sticking. These grooves are deep enough to allow air pockets to form under the reed to prevent sticking due to moisture buildup. The Duck Slayer is made from a durable polycarbonate plastic, with a wide brass band for beauty and endurance. It retails for $38.

Roy's Championship Open Water Duck Calls come "competition ready" with an outstanding high end and a low end that ducks can't resist. Roy designed these calls to be used anywhere a loud call is needed, especially around other hunters or ducks. Retail price is $40.

Available in two color choices, Roy's Championship Huntin' Buddy Duck Calls are the first calls ever designed for "call-shy" ducks. The Huntin' Buddy is half as loud as Roy's Open Water calls, making them ideal for hunting where a loud call will echo. These calls are perfect for late-season ducks in timber or anywhere that a louder call might spook ducks. The calls retail for $40.

For more info, check out the Web site: RoyRhodes.com

Knight and Hale Double Cluck Plus

KNIGHT & HALE

Duck calls come in single- and double-reed and create a variety of duck sounds, from the simple "quack" to the feeding chuckle to complex hail and come-back calls. Single-reed calls usually produce more volume than double-reeds, but double-reed calls often produce a "thicker," more realistic sound. Knight & Hale features a full line of high-quality waterfowl calls in single- and double-reed models.

The Bachelorette model features the Threadlock system in which both pieces of the call are threaded and screw together, creating an extra-tight seal and preventing unexpected end-piece separation. This Arkansas-style call sports a brand-new design that easily produces raspy, natural calls.

Knight and Hale Bachelorette

Goose calls produce the sounds of Canada, white-fronted and snow geese. Knight & Hale produces the industry standard goose call in the Double-Cluck Plus, which has won the World Goose Calling Championship numerous times. The Double Cluck Plus makes sound on both the exhale and the inhale, allowing for continuous, realistic calling.

Knight & Hale Ultimate Hunting Team member Richie McKnight's signature series hand-turned short-reed clucker features new "worn-in" guts for a more hollow, realistic sound. The smaller end-piece diameter means that it takes very little back pressure to create natural-sounding calls, making for a call that is easier to learn to use. McKnight designed this hand-turned acrylic call for versatility. It can be a contest call or a meat call, and can be blown very loud or made soft for close-in geese. This call has won or placed in five national calling contests. Retail price is $50. Visit their Web site at KinightandHale.com

Hayde

l Custom Signed Series II

HAYDEL'S CALLS

In 1958, Eli Haydel moved to north Louisiana and after serving in the Air Force, made his home in Bossier City. As Eli got older, he continued to love hunting -- and calling. Back in 1975, Eli Haydel began to enter calling contests and became a champion caller. He was frustrated, though, because when his duck or goose call got wet, the wood swelled and the call wouldn't perform. Eli decided to eliminate this problem by making a call from nonporous material. With his garage as his test lab, Eli soon developed his new idea.

Today, Haydel's Calls has come full circle to offer hand-crafted Brazilian rosewood double-reed duck calls. While the call may look similar to cocobolo wood, it does seem to be raspier and have more "duck." Retail price is $75.

The Custom Signed Series II is the second call in a limited edition series of duck calls that is tuned and signed by Rod Haydel. The Birdseye maple blowing barrel compliments the black acrylic exhaust barrel that houses the double-reed components.

This series is again limited to 100 calls and retails for $200.

Haydel DR-85

If you're looking for a starter set, the Double Reed Mallard with instructional CD features the company's top-selling mallard call, the DR-85, along with its T-01C instructional CD. Retail price is $24.95.

Haydel's 25th Anniversary Call is a double-reed with variable tone hole to change pitches to sound like two different ducks. Available for just one year, the call's retail price is $29.95.

The Ultimate Duck Call Kit features Haydel's DR-85 mallard call, a waterfowl identification booklet, and as a complimentary call, the MP-90 whistle together with a two-call lanyard. An instructional DVD covers use of these two calls to seduce mallards, pintails, widgeon and teal. Additional instruction is given for other species of ducks as well as all species of geese. Retail price is $39.95.

Returning to the Haydel lineup is a specklebelly goose version of its Cocacrylic Series. A modified blowing barrel makes it easier to break into the two-note yodels faster. It produces shrill, raucous sounds of the blue and snow goose for a retail price of $60. Check out the Web site at Hardels.com

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.