When ducks aren't behaving, the "Duckmen" of Duck Commander take command. They identify them at a distance and sweet-talk them in their native tongue.
John Geiger of Game & Fish/Sportsman Magazine and Crossbow Revolution went on a duck hunting trip last season with these famous duck-call makers.
An impressively bearded duck hunter pounded on his mallard call, but was having trouble getting the ducks to sit.
There were duck in the air all around, but they were flying high on a mission or were heading to a raft about 200 yard to the east of us in this flooded rice field.
John David Owen, one of the hard-hunting Duckmen of Duck Commander, and I were having trouble commanding them.
Our buddy, Justin Martin, another Duckman, arrived late at the pit blind, climbed in and huddled with us. Owen and Martin came up with a plan to divide and conquer: Martin would call only to all the mallards and teal while Owen talked only to the pintail and speckled bellies.
Duck Dynasty airs on Outdoor Channel, Mondays at 8:30 pm, ET.
What started out as a morning of ducks skirting the spread and leaving gunners wondering if they should have taken long-distance shots, became a day of classic waterfowl hunting: cupped wings, open breasts and lighting ducks for the taking.
"If you can figure out what those ducks are at a distance, you'll have a much better chance of talking directly to them and locking them in," said Owen.
Mallards want to hear from the mallards, said Martin, a guide and avid hunter, who you might recognize from the TV show. "Bull sprig want to hear a hen pintail. So that's what we give 'em. As soon as we ID them, we hit 'em with the right call."
Justin Martin, one of the Duck Men of "Duck Dynasty" on the Outdoor Channel, hits on a piercing call, like his Duck Commander Cutdown 2.0, when there's a strong headwind. Sounds something like this...
Make the right call
If you look at the number of calls sold in the USA, it's amazing that so many are mallard calls sold as compared to other species. According to Duck Commander sales numbers, people are buying mallard calls at a rate of 1:10 compared to other species. But hunters are not taking 10 mallards to every one other duck in the USA.
"Hunters are missing out on opportunities by not being prepared with the right calls," said Gimber of Duck Commander call company. "It pays to get proficient with calls from various species."
The hunter and duck-call marketer's theory is that most people who are using a mallard call probably don't realize a couple of very important things that would help the drop more ducks of all species.
First, he said that hunters need to target the species that is most prevalent in their areas. And they might not be mallards.
It's true that these "off ducks," as some call anything but a high-quality greenhead, might respond to a mallard call, but it's a long-standing Duck Commander precept that you have to call in a way to sound like what you're trying to attract.
It's not about sounding fancy or winning calling competitions, but sounding like a real teal to shoot a teal, or honking like a speckled-belly to bring in a goose.
3 Serious Calls
The Robertsons sure enjoyed a lot of attention in the last few years. But one things remains: they are hardcore waterfowlers and product great calls.
Their premier line, the Jase Robertson Pro Series, is three double-reed mallard hen calls designed by Jase and Jace Stone.
They range from $39 for the Hi-Ball to $64 for the Acrylic.
The Acrylic is loud, and that was perfect for our windy December hunt. It really was the right tool to let us reach out and talk to greenheads far away.
The Tigerwood gives a low, raspy call that is great for close-in finishing, which is what we used it for and quite successfully.
The Hi-Ball has a shorter barrel, and is easy to blow, which is so crucial on that December day because we really never stopped banging on those calls. — John Geiger
"The more you sound like your target, the more success you will have," said Gimber, who has waterfowl-hunted his whole life in Louisiana, and was taught by his uncle, Phil Robertson.
According to patriarch Robertson, "sweet-talk" the duck you want to shoot with their own species' call. "These ducks are slick," he said. "You're not trying to impress anyone or make noise but make him sit. Pure and simple."
Another advantage to mastering target species is that many are easier to replicate than mallards, and the ducks probably don't hear their call as much as they do a greenhead call.
"We get species-specific as much as we can in our setup," said Gimber, from our gear, decoys, calls, shotgun, shell and choke selection. The more you focus on sounding like your target and preparing for that specific species, the more you success you should have and, for sure, the more you will learn and enjoy about the outdoors and waterfowling."
At the blind, calling to a specific species also helped us get the birds lined up into the right flight path during a strong wind.
We all know ducks will use as little energy as possible to get where they want to be. Especially in high winds, they often will not veer from their route by much. So it's especially important in these conditions to ID the species quickly and start calling so they can target your spread as their destination.
"If we can get their attention as far out as possible, there is a better chance they will stay lined up with out spread and coming to us," said Martin, as he watched a flight of teal bunched up and flying into the wing at what seemed like a mile away.
Martin hit the teal whistle right away to act like a beacon to the struggling birds. They didn't veer but bee-lined it to the spread and to us waiting hunters.
"Get 'em!" yelled Martin.
Three Benelli's opened up and two pairs folded and fell.
"That's the way to get it done, boys!" Martin said.
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