What You Should Know About Duck Calls.


Have you ever gone to a sporting goods store and looked at buying a duck call? Waterfowl hunting is synonymous with retrievers and duck calls. It seems like no matter what video you watch or magazine you read you always see pictures of a hunter with his duck dog and a call lanyard full of these colorful calls hanging around their neck. Duck calling is definitely a part of duck hunting and to me, it’s one of the more intimidating parts of it. For years I’ve hunted with just some decoys and set my decoys up in the right place and in the right way to get the ducks to come in. As long as the ducks were flying, I had them landing. Sometimes the ducks would fly right by and not even look my way and that’s when I decided I better get a call and learn to call ducks.

The intimidating thing about calling ducks is that now everyone around can hear what you’re doing. I was listening to a podcast yesterday that talked about getting new hunters in the sport and how things like this and the lack of people trying to teach is what keeps people from trying to hunt. What ends up happening is that we get intimidated and move on to something else that we can do without getting embarrassed by other people around. I decided to venture past all that and give this duck calling thing a shot. My very first call was a call I got for free for joining Ducks Unlimited. It was made by Buck Gardner calls and it worked great for my first duck call. As the years have gone by and I’ve used it more and especially since starting the blog and me being out 2-3 days a week, I started having some failures at the worst times with that call. That being said, now I’m back on the market for a new call. That’s why I’ve made sure to put lots of links in this post.


Buying a new duck call can feel like you’re walking into a mystic maze with so many different ways that all look the same. The point of this post is to help clear the way a little bit. There are many different calls out there and different ways of using them. I like to use my duck call as a way to get the ducks to look at my decoys, once they see my decoys I set my call down and let the ducks decide to come in. That works good for me but other hunters like to call the ducks all the way into the decoys and just put the call down when they’re pulling their gun up. The other way to use ducks calls is for competitions. All over the United States, there are duck calling competitions. That’s one world that I don’t know much about. I’ve watched videos and they do all sorts of different call patterns that don’t really sound realistic as to hunting duck calling but from what I understand it’s all about the pattern not how well it works ducks. If someone reading this knows more about competition calling, please leave some comments below.

When looking to buy some duck calls, there are a few things you should be aware of. There are many different call makers. For this post, I contacted 13 and only got responses from a few of them. Either way, here’s another article I found when I was researching this and this guy went crazy with a pretty comprehensive list of call makers and stuff. The other thing you should know if you want to call ducks is some basic duck calls. I did some Youtube research at first but ended up buying this DVD. It helped in that it was one consistent voice teaching me how to call. All I was able to do was a greeting call and a comeback call and that worked pretty well. Eventually, I figured out how to do a feeding call and that’s all I use. Duck’s Unlimited has a good article with some sound bites that can really be helpful. Here’s that link.


Now to the actual buying duck calls. I said earlier that I’m in the market so writing this post was fun since I got to do some research for my self. Here are a couple of articles I read during my research too. Link and Link. I mentioned earlier that I contacted multiple call makers. What I did was I emailed them a few basic questions about duck calls that can be pretty confusing when you’re standing there looking at all of the calls on the display case and trying to decide what to buy for your first call. The questions I asked were:

  1. What’s the difference between a single reed and a double reed? How can you use them differently?
  2. What’s the difference in the materials and how should you care for them?
  3. Do you have any recommendations for beginners?

The first response I got was from Cutdown calls. These guys were great to chat with and super helpful. I like how Marcus responded to the questions. Here’s what he had to say:

  1. What’s the difference between a single reed and a double reed? How can you use them differently?

Well, they both call ducks… I once explained it like this many years ago an old fellow sitting on his porch in Louisiana worked on a call and came up with the double reed and like wise maybe up in Arkansas some old boy made one that was single reed. So folk from certain area prefer one or the other because that’s what they grew learning how to use… because the calls could be found locally or grandpa passed the call done to grandson, etc. ”

I like this analogy he uses further explaining the single reed and why you should have multiple duck calls.

“Single reeds are usually a higher pitch and a little louder. I always have one with if I’m in an open area, especially good in the wind. Open fields and water are made for single reed calls. 

I bass and crappie fish a lot… so I have many different lures…  I think of duck hunting similarly, you should have several calls and try something different if the old standbys aren’t working.” 


  1. What’s the difference in the materials and how should you care for them?

”Acrylic is the material for calls if you can afford it, it doesn’t change due to moisture or temperature like wood. Wood calls should be cleaned more and make sure they are kept sealed by some type of finish. Wood should be kept away from excessive heat too ( don’t leave in a hot vehicle) Plastic calls are great these days the best ones are made out of Lexan polycarbonate like my calls are.  ( Lexan is bulletproof plastic). When cleaning them, simply use mild soap and warm water.” 

  1. Do you have any recommendations for beginners?

“The double reed has more raspiness built in just by the way it’s made. So it is easier to sound good on for the beginner. I make a double reed call “ the Little Easy” that’s just fantastic for beginners and pros as an extra realistic duck call. ( if they’re not too proud to use it )”

If you’re interested in getting the little easy, here’s the link to their website.



The next company to reply is RNT Calls. RNT stands for Rich N Tone calls. If you have sportsman’s channel they have their own TV show and have also been making calls for years. They got back to me pretty quick with answers to my questions too. I sure appreciate good customer service. Here’s what they had to say in regards to the questions.

“1) A double reed call has two reeds and in turn produces a raspy sound by just putting straight air into a call. However, a double reed is limited in the range of sound to this one raspy sound. A call does not have to be a double reed to be raspy. It just has to be blown correctly. A single reed requires a little more voice to be put into the call to produce a ducky sound, but once this is accomplished, a single reed requires a lot less air to operate and is far more versatile in sound. The more versatile the more effective. 

Instead of thinking of area-specific calls, think of situation-specific calls. Our calls are designed to be this way. Each of our calls is designed for different sound and volume specific situations, because some similar areas may require different volumes and sounds due to hunting pressure, weather, or time of year. So if you are looking for a call that’s quiet, loud, soft, whiney, deep, or raspy, or maybe all of the above then we have a call for you. You will find this makes much more sense and is much more effective than using ”open water” call only in open water. Remember, the more versatile you are the more effective you will be.


2) The wood calls will be softer and more mellow than the acrylics, which are denser and will be louder, higher, and more clear than woods. The polymer insert will sound similar to the acrylic because it is made up of an acrylic resin. The polymer will be louder, sharper, and more clear than the wood.


3) The best way to learn is to just dive in. We always recommend an Original or Short Barrel to start on, referring back to the first question, they are two of the most versatile calls in our arsenal. A few of the basics are as follows: Holding the Call Hold the call like you were in the Army saluting a superior. The end piece should be between your thumb and forefinger. Now slightly cup your hand to form the shape of the letter “C”. Remember not to cup your hand so much that you begin to muffle the sound. While holding the call, place the barrel to your mouth like you were drinking from a soda bottle. Make sure your that your lips have a good seal around your lips, and without so much pressure that your lips are uncomfortable. Then use a few “key words” that will help you make the basic sounds. “The Quack – Hut, Hoot, ooot, Quick, Quit, Doit, Dwit” “The Feed Call – Too-ka, Tic-ka, Dig-ga, Doo-ga, Kit-ty, Get, ty” “The Cluck – Cook, Shook” Using these basic steps the rest of the calling will begin to build.”

The other company to contact me is Echo Calls. I do have to say that through Instagram when I mentioned I want a new call, multiple people recommended me getting an Echo Call. Honestly, I’d never heard of them. This duck calling thing is still new to me so it’s a world I’m exploring. The cool thing is that Rick, the creator of Echo Calls, had me call him personally. That was a cool move that he took some time to speak to me. Anyways, I asked him the same questions and this is what he had to say. Sorry but I get to paraphrase here.

1. Single vs Double Reed Calls

Single reeds are harder to call and more experienced guys prefer them. The pros are that they hold tuning better and tend to have fewer issues since it’s only one reed. They do take more practice to sound good with. Double reed is user-friendly, they are a great place to start duck calling.

2. Different materials and care and maintenance.

Wood calls are more mellow. This is a plus as it keeps people from calling too loud and spooking the ducks. Acrylics are the best since they don’t really change with weather or moisture. Polycarbonate calls are a good starter call. To keep your wood calls good, it’s recommended that you pull the insert from the barrel to allow it to dry after a hunt. Maintaining the Acrylic calls its recommended that you use some brasso and a cloth to polish it up and get it looking new again. The other recommendation was that about every year or two if you have some cork in your call, get it replaced or replace it when it starts sounding flat.

3. Recommendations for new callers.

A double reed is the call to start on and learn. The Diamondwood call is a combination of wood and polycarbonate and it’s the most popular call Echo Calls sells. A lot of people use it and it lasts years. It’s also a good price for a beginner call.


There is 1 other companies that got back to me that I’m still waiting to chat with. My schedule makes it hard to contact people sometimes and so once I get to chat with the people of Zink calls I’ll be sure to update this article.

Picking a call is hard and there are so many options. Maybe to start off you can get a call that comes with a DVD just to get started. The best way to pick though is to go to a store and blow the calls and see how they feel and how you sound. I’m looking to replace my starter call and get some better quality calls and I’ll probably do a single reed and a double reed. Once I do, I’ll be sure to make a blog post about that and how that goes for me. Hopefully, this helps answer some basic questions about duck calls and the differences.I was also told about a great book on duck calling that tells the history of it and gives some good information. It’s written by Howard Harlan and it’s called The Legend Of The American Duck Call. If you have any questions or comments or smart remarks, make sure to comment below. Be sure to also click on the links I posted. They go to some good information and also to these companies that took the time to help me put this together.

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