8 Duck Calling Tips For Beginners

While many people consider them to be one of the world’s best tools for waterfowling, duck calls are just useless toys if not utilized correctly. After learning the right techniques and duck calling tips however, even novice duck hunters can garner attention from the birds. Wadinglab presents you 8 duck calling tips for beginners that will boost your hunting game to another level.

Below are 8 strategical duck calling tips for entry-level duck hunters.


Develop A Good Quality Quack

While a basic quack is normally the starting point for all duck hunters, many fail to develop it correctly. As opposed to simply blowing into the call, it is suggested that callers focus on building pressure and making the call resonate. Ultimately, if the caller fails to use enough force, the call will not sound right.

When blowing into the duck call, the caller’s bottom lip should be directly in line with the bottom lip of the call and the caller’s top lip should be directly above the top lip of the call. The caller’s tongue should also be pressed firmly against the roof of their mouth in order to prevent constriction.

While this approach can be changed for different calls, basic calls (including the quack) require direct air flow.

The caller’s job here is to essentially get all of the pressure from their lungs into the call after taking a large breath in. The pressure can all be let out upon exhalation for a basic quack, or it can be let out bit by bit as the caller pleases for multiple-noted calls.

One of the best duck calling tips for beginners is to practice this basic quack until it becomes completely habitual. Once the quack is second-nature to the caller, multiple-noted quacks and all other calls should come easy.  

It is imperative that hunters also master a clean “aCK” at the end of their basic single quack before moving on to other calls. Get the basics right and build on top of it!

Watch Your Volume

best tip for duck calling is watch your volume

While calls too high in volume tend to blow waterfowl away, calls that are too soft may not even be heard (one of the most popular duck calling tips, still a lot of beginners seem to ignore it).


Hunters should start off with a loud call to get the duck’s attention and then slowly move down the scale in volume without hitting any startup notes. Once birds start to approach, no sound is necessary and it is imperative that the hunter ceases all calls. However, if the duck starts to go off-course, the hunter should use a soft comeback call in hopes of convincing the bird to stay. Read the bird’s behaviour. After a while you should be able to tell what works and what doesn’t.

As always:

Be creative! Ducks learn fast and if use the same technique those other hunters used to shoot half of the flock down, chances are the ducks will avoid you like plague if you sound similar.


Call volume can easily be misjudged and usually depends on the hunting environment. For instance, set-ups with large open bodies of water call for the loudest calls possible, while hunting environments surrounded by trees do the opposite. Additional factors include wind, echoes, weather and other hunters. Sounds difficult, but over time you will get a feeling for different conditions and what is appropriate for a certain situation.

gundogsonline.com – VOLUME…. TOO MUCH? NOT ENOUGH? WHERE & WHEN?


Knowing The Three Zones

Once the ducks are in sight, they have three zones. These three zones are commonly known as the entry zone, the working zone and the exit zone. Once in the entry zone, callers should aim to hold the duck’s attention as long as possible. However, if the duck’s attention is completely unattainable (within the entry zone), it is suggested that the caller moves on. Sometimes you have to give up on some birds so you don’t scare others


Again, over time you will get a feeling for which birds you can lure in and which will never care about your calls.


Picking The Right Duck Call

Beginners should take their time and choose their duck call wisely. Many novice duck hunters fail to find a duck call fit for their experience level and what they are looking to do.  

Duck calls come in many different forms and vary significantly in price. Many duck calls are single-reed while others are double-reed, many duck calls are wooden while others are acrylic and many duck calls are $20 while others are $200. Since price range varies, figuring out your budget should be the first priority. After getting your budget down, finding a highly regarded company is recommended to ensure a quality buy. There are some “noname” calls that perform well, but if you do not feel like experimenting yourself, have a look at our list of best duck calls.

While many experienced hunters prefer single-reed calls, the double-reed duck calls are more fit for beginners. Double-reed’s tend to be more user friendly and sometimes come with almost built in duck sounds. For the novice, this can be extremely beneficial and help with getting the hang of things. Single-reed’s however, offer extreme versatility and a very clean, crisp sound.

Wooden duck calls are more traditional for crafting calls, but are not very durable. Acrylic however, tend to be extremely durable. Additionally, the acrylic duck calls are incredible versatile and offer a wide range of sounds able to be produced. The only downside to this is that acrylic duck calls tend to be expensive for both the manufacturer and for the buyer. While many assume duck call color is just for show, acrylic made calls do actually provide a tonal difference. Since the transparent colors cause density, they tend to produce a louder and sharper sound than the solid colored calls do.

There is also the choice of polycarbonate, which is a material that starts as a solid and is melted into liquid form before by being injected into a mold. Even though duck calls made of polycarbonate are often used by beginners, they are also used by many experienced hunters throughout their entire careers due to the high level of durability. Why should you stop using a still perfectly good duck call that served you well for many seasons?

When duck calls are created, three variables are considered. The variables are material, color and the number of reeds. Upon learning this information, beginners have more of an understanding as to what will work for them and their skill level.

Many of our suggested duck calls are extremely easy to use and still provide a great sound. For more information about duck calls and a list of the best duck calls for every budget, check out our article:

Best Duck Call – Top 5 – Buying Guide and Reviews


Knowing The Difference Between Call Types

best duck calling tips and the different types

Learning the correct call sounds and how they pertain to each situation is one of the most common duck calling tips given to beginners.

Judging what call to use and deciphering between the different sounds tends to be very difficult for beginners. Many duck hunting beginners miss out on opportunities due to simply using the wrong call at the wrong time. In addition to the basic quack which beginners should start off by learning, there are many useful duck hunting calls.

When spotting far away birds, a five to seven note call known as the “greeting call” is suggested. The greeting call is common amongst duck hunters and usually makes a “kanc, kanc, kanc” sound. The notes should be made while consistently descending in volume. Whenever ducks fail to respond to the greeting, a comeback call should be issued. This should garner an immediate response from the ducks while consisting of five to seven quicker notes.

Hunters will often come in contact with shy birds which seem to be unresponsive to all calls. Whenever callers find themselves in this situation, it is time for what is known as the “lonesome hen” call. While the lonesome hen call is often overlooked, it can be extremely effective when used on call-shy birds. The lonesome hen call is a long, spaced out “quaaaink” sound and is often a variation of the basic quack. If the notes are issued to quickly, the ducks could become scared and fly off, so be careful here!

The pleading call (also known as the begging hail call) should only be used when looking to get the attention of birds up to 200 yards above where you are standing. The pleading call consists of five to six total “kanc” sounds and should be slowly drawn out as if begging the bird to land. Much differently from how most calls descend in volume, the feed call gets louder and then quieter with each note. This should not be overused and should only add variety to the callers repertoire.

Possibly the most well known call for ducks more than 100 yards away is the hail call. Even though they are frowned upon by most pros, hails are one of the loudest and most effective duck calls with a pretty high success rate.


Never Over-Call

When embarking on a solo hunt (as opposed to hunting in a group or with a partner), duck callers should make sure not to repeatedly use their calls to make up for the lack of people. An excessive amount of calling is the number one way to guarantee going home empty-handed. This gives off a vibe of desperation and is a dead giveaway which lets the ducks know not to flock anywhere near you. Much like communication with humans, callers need to learn the language of ducks, which takes practice. When ducks call other ducks, they stop calling as soon as they reached their goal of drawing attention. Novice duck callers on the other hand, view the bird’s appearance as a sign that one of their calls has worked and think to continue using the same call. This over-calling almost always results in an easy to predict, unsuccessful hunting day.

Do not be too desperate. Even when hunting in a great location, with the best decoys and a perfect call, some days are just slow.


Whistling Actually Works

It is surprising to most, but whistling actually works. Many novices who are still mastering the basic quack, simply whistle to get the birds attention. It not only works, but it has accounted for some of the most successful hunts some of our hunters ever had. Some people see at as a game of how successful they can call ducks just by whistling.

Whistling also makes it possible for anyone to join the fun of duck hunting, considering everyone knows how to. For more experienced hunters, whistling can be used along with pintail, wigeon and mallard greeting calls. Once again, be creative and unique. Ducks get picky over time.


Practice! Practice! Practice!

Practice dcuk calling

As any skill worth learning, duck calling takes time to master and requires a lot of practice!

Probably the best advice out of all on this list. Get a duck call from our best of list that fits your budget and start practicing as soon as it arrives. You do not need to be outside and you don’t need ducks for that. Listen to duck sound on youtube and try to recreate them. Use the tons of free resources available online such as this one. More practice will result in better calling technique which will ultimately result in more waterfowl that you can bring home for dinner.

ducks.org – 8 Calls Every Duck Hunter Must Master

Final Words

Duck calling tips given by experienced professionals and based off reliable sources should not be overlooked by any beginner. Do you know a tip that we did not mention? We would love to hear it in the comments. Help other beginners out in this awesome and addictive sport!


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