Duck hunting has a long tradition in the United States. Enjoyed by almost every age, it is a well respected outdoor sport, providing not only fun and excitement but also food. To achieve the best results it is important to know which is the best duck call for a certain situation. Creating the right sounds can fill an empty sky quickly with a flock of mallards. Since there are many different products to choose from, it can only be beneficial to know a few facts before you make your purchase. This buying guide will help you to purchase the best duck call for beginners or advanced hunters and provides top rated duck calls of 2016 and their reviews.
The Best Duck Calls Of 2016 – Top 5
There is nothing like seeing a flock of mallards changing direction because of your call. However, this will only happen if you are using the right product and that’s why we created this list. It covers almost all price ranges, so even with a tight budget, you will get the best duck call for the money. Every product will be shortly reviewed combined with a quick sound check, so you know what you expect.
Duck Commander – Classic
- Material: Wood
- Reed: Double
- Sound: Soft Raspy
The Duck Commander Classic made its first appearance in 1972 and since then had only minor changes. Being popular for over 40 years now, Duck Commander must have done something right here. Although there are a few disadvantages that come with wood, there is nothing quite like the soft and raspy sound you will hear coming out of a wood call. Made from hard woods like cedar and birch, the call is surprisingly loud for wood. Since this product is handmade, the tone might vary slightly but there is a reason why every experienced duck hunter recognizes this classic by its sound.
Since wood is quite sensitive to temperatures and moisture, make sure to carry this beauty in a pocket close to your body to get steady high quality sounds out of it, even during winter. No need to be too careful here, but wood is definitely not as sturdy as the hard plastic used for other calls.
Duck Commander – Triple Threat Duck Call
- Material: Polycarbonate
- Reed: Triple
- Sound: Nasally Raspy
While it is quite unusual in the industry, this call uses a triple-reed system. Since more reeds are usually harder to blow, this might sound off-putting at first, but trust me, using this call is surprisingly easy. Even with only a small amount of air, it produces raspy and realistic sounds making it a great choice for beginners as well as intermediates. Without much practice, you will be able to create perfect low- and high-pitch sounds.
The Material used here is polycarbonate and therefore resistant to moisture and temperature, making it durable and long-lasting. Even slightly wet and in colder temperatures it works and leaves many other more expensive duck calls behind. I am using it for about a year now and as far as I can tell, the perfect sound did not change a bit from day-one. For under $40 you will get a piece of equipment that will not only last you a few season but will also provide a constant crisp and clear sound during that time, making it one of the best duck commander calls you can get.
Echo Calls Meat Hanger
- Material: Acrylic
- Reed: Double
- Sound: Rich Raspy
The most expensive one on this list is naturally an acrylic duck call. As mentioned earlier, acrylic is a top choice for the best duck calls out of many reasons. Acrylic is a really dense material and therefore produces loud and crisp sounds, suitable for far distance duck calling. Out of all calls reviewed here, the Echo Calls Meat Hanger is definitely the one with the most volume, while still maintaining a realistic “ducky” sound. An acrylic duck call also barely changes its sound over its lifetime and since this material is incredibly sturdy, this call will last for ages. You will be able to mimic all ranges of mallard sounds from high- to low pitch as well as from long range to feed chuckles.
Although double-reed and therefore not hard to learn, I would not recommend making this your first duck call, if you never tried one before. It is a great call for the more advanced duck hunters, that are looking for a product to bring their hunting game to the next level. Quality and sound wise the Meat Hanger is top notch!
Buck Gardner – Double Nasty II
- Material: Polycarbonate
- Reed: Double
- Sound: Crisp Raspy
Another polycarbonate call on this list, mainly because of its incredible price/ performance ratio. For under $30 you get a double-reed call with the control and range comparable to some single-reeds. The tone is raspy and clean and lets you produce low-end sounds as well as feed chuckles. The call itself is easy to blow even when wet and the polycarbonate will perform equally good under all weather conditions. If temperatures are sub zero, keep in mind that even the best duck call cannot prevent the moisture insight from freezing, blocking the reeds. Therefore storing it in your pocket is advised.
Easy to start with but hard to perfectionate and with much room to improve your technique, it is one of the best duck calls for beginners. If this is your first one and you are looking for a cheap duck call, you can not go wrong here and the $20 are well spend.
Materials Used For The Best Duck Calls
One of the first things you should decide on is a material. Today there are three really popular materials: Wood, Acrylic, and Polycarbonate. All have different advantages and differ in sound and price. Generally, the denser a material is the sharper and clearer a sound will be.
- Soft And Smooth Sound
- Not Very Durable Over Time
Definitely, the oldest material used for duck calls is wood. That’s what the first calls were made from and it is still a popular choice today. If used correctly, the sound of a wood call is smooth and super realistic. It is also quieter than the other materials on this list since wood tends to slightly absorb sounds, creating those soft tones it is loved for. However, wood is only good for so long. The problem with this material is, that it is highly sensitive to moisture and temperature changes. During duck hunting in cold temperatures, it is best practice to carry a wood call in a pocket close to your body. A steady temperature will result in consistent calls, which is something you definitely want! It is wise to choose woods containing a high amount of oil. This will help to hold up temperatures of the call and increases the longevity by reducing absorbed moisture. If you choose a wood call it should have a supporting metal ring around the barrel to prevent splitting during the process of drying (shrinking) and the swelling caused by moisture entering.
- Sharp And Loud Sound
- Long Lasting And Durable
Today the number one choice for high-end duck calls in terms of material is acrylic. It is a long lasting and high-density material, producing a loud and crisp sound. Unlike other materials, it is not affected by moisture or temperatures, making it a solid choice for every weather. That being said, there is also a downside here: The price! Acrylic calls are easily the most expensive ones. The manufacturing is more complicated compared to the other materials and they often get a professional fine-tuning before they enter the stores. Considering this and that they will last you many seasons, acrylic is a very popular choice.
- Sharp And Crisp Sound
- Long Lasting And Durable
The main difference in the creating process of a polycarbonate call is that it is not milled. The material will be melted and subsequently injected into a form where it will harden. Following that the manufacturing price is cheap and polycarbonate is the best choice for beginners. It is also very durable and long lasting and therefore also widely used by advanced duck hunters. Correctly used, it is capable of attracting tons of ducks although the sound isn’t as sharp and realistic as seen from wood and acrylic calls.
When you picked a material the next thing you should decide on is whether you want a single-reed or a double/triple-reed call. Although this is often a thing of preferences, there are a few differences worth knowing before you make your decision.
Single-Reed – Flexible But Hard To Master
Usually used by experienced hunters, single-reed offers a few advantages compared to double-reed. If used correctly they offer more flexibility in sound giving an experienced hunter perfect control over its output. A good caller will be able to mimic the sound of several ducks during one call, which requires perfect air- and tongue-control as well as positioning. Additionally, single-reed calls have the potential to be quite a bit louder than their counterpart, while still maintaining a crisp and clean sound. Keep in mind, all of this takes a lot of practice and you won’t be able to produce perfect sounds right from the beginning.
Double-Reed Or Triple-Reed – Easy To Use
The main advantage of double-reed and triple-reed calls is there beginner-friendly usability. You will not be able to produce the wide range of sounds possible with a single-reed, but right from the start, it will be easier to attract ducks. The sound is raspy and you can usually choose between quiet and loud calls. They do not take that much practice to master and a quality made double-reed can come close to the volume of a single-reed. It is worth mentioning, that in extremely cold temperatures double-reeds tend to freeze in between, which obviously affects the sound. Because of that, it is best practice to carry them in a pocket to keep them warm.
The 3 Best Tips For Duck Calling
- Use higher-volume calls only for ducks far away. As soon as they fly towards you, stop calling and let out only single quacks and chuckles, if they look like they might change directions. Everything else will scare them more than it will help. Less is more!
- If the birds actually turn away, switch to louder calls and vary them until you got back their attention. Read their behavior and act accordingly. If you concentrate on their movement you might see what attracts this special flock of ducks and what does not.
- For calling: Always start high and lower the tone slowly during the process. Only that way, it will sound as realistic as possible, giving you the best results.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you just decided to pick up a duck call, you might be disappointed on the first sound you get out of it. If you bought a product from this list, it is certainly not because the call is bad. The reasoning behind it is that, like any skill worth learning, it takes time to master it. Listen to real ducks, try to learn how they sound and try to mimic it. You do not need to be outside for that, there are plenty of Youtube videos to learn from and sounds can be practiced at home easily. Keep in mind, that those sounds might be slightly different to how you would perceive them outside, so once you know what to do, try to find out what your call is actually capable of and if you practiced enough you soon will be rewarded with ducks coming in like never before.
The best duck hunting call is a big part of this incredibly popular sport. Mastering the techniques needed to attract flocks of mallards, will take a while but once you know what you are doing, your duck hunting game will definitely reach the next level. Even cheap duck calls like the Double Nasty reviewed earlier, will bring increase your success more than just notably. If you love this sport, it will be fun practicing and more than worth the money, once you see the first achievements.