Kentuckian Field Hudnall, owner of Field Proven Calls, knows how to talk to Canada geese. As a maker of some of the finest goose calls in the country, he should. And as a competitive goose caller with wins in such contests as World Goose, Cabela's Open, Weatherby Open, and two-time International Goose Calling Championship on his resume — he should know how to talk to Canada geese.
But perhaps more significant than teaching callers of all skill levels what to do with a goose call, Hudnall is an expert, a very diplomatic expert, at providing instruction on what not to do with a call.
"There always variables in terms of what to do with a goose call," said Hudnall. "What the geese want to hear has its variables. The volume. The inflection. Even whether to call at all. There are unknowns. But when it comes to what not to do with a goose call, it's pretty black and white. What not to do is relatively well-defined. It's easier to understand, so it's easier to '¦ well, it's easier not to do those things."
Much of what Hudnall discusses in terms of what not to do with a goose call begins at home rather than, as many might assume, in the field.
"First, you want to choose the right call," said Hudnall. "Or rather, not choose the wrong call. Some calls we label as user-friendly; that is, they produce a sound that after years of consumer shows, demonstrations, and tuning sessions, we see as a sound people want. These are the calls that are the easiest for hunters, especially new callers, to develop the sounds necessary for success in the field."
Traditionally, Hudnall says, when a call is tuned deeper, it's easier to learn than one that's high-pitched, fast, or physically shorter. The problem with calls, though, is the "easiest" call to blow for one person might prove challenging for the next. So he says it's important to look beyond the glitz and the glamour, the bright colors and the fancy engraving, and find a call that works for you.
Hudnall's next tip is for all you Tim "The Toolman" Taylor fans.
"Now that you have a call," Hudnall advised, "don't take it apart. Sure, you want to take the call apart, but don't. It's true; you really can't hurt the call unless you try. But you've purchased that call from a reputable call-maker based on your research. You trust that call-maker, and you trust that the call you've purchased has been tuned as it should. Once you take it apart and put it back together, there's a good chance you've lost the confidence in that call's ability to do what it's supposed to do."
The art here, said Hudnall, is for you, the caller, to adjust your abilities and your mechanics — that is, your experience level — rather than the physical properties of the call itself.
It's elemental. To speak a second language fluently, you have to first learn that dialect. The language of "goose" is no different.
"Goose vocabulary is very basic," said Hudnall, "but people want to run before they can walk. Here then, it's important not to forget those basics. Everything a Canada goose does vocally is derived from a honk, but that honk is varied based on the excitement with which its delivered. So a good caller never forgets the honk. And never forget you're trying to sound like a goose, not a goose caller."
And perhaps most simple of all: Try.
"Don't get stuck on those words we've all heard — 'If you're not going to blow it right, don't blow it at all,'" said Hudnall. "You have to learn what the call is capable of. You have to practice. You have to experiment. You have to drop your pride and play with the call. Now's the time to practice. If you have a build-up and a break-over, i.e. the honk, you can call most geese. If your sound has most of the components of a real goose — well, then it sounds good."