Duck Calls 101: Mastering the Art of Duck Calling

January 15, 2024

Connor Merritt

Connor Merritt

So, you want to start duck hunting but you don’t know where to begin, or maybe you’re a seasoned hunter who just needs a little refresher course before heading back out into wilds. In either case, it’s vital to understand the importance of the duck call as they can easily be the difference between success and failure when out on the hunt. Whether you’re a beginner looking to dive into the world of duck hunting or a seasoned hunter, mastering the art of duck calls is crucial. In this iSportsman 101 guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of duck calling, covering everything from types of calls to when and how to use them effectively.

Why It’s Important to Learn Duck Calls

Duck Calling

Attraction of Ducks

You can use duck calls to mimic the sounds that ducks make, attracting ducks to your location by creating a realistic and convincing environment.

Increased Success Rates

When you effectively use duck calls you’ll significantly increase the success rates of your duck hunts. By accurately replicating duck sounds, you can make it more likely for ducks to respond and come within range.

Understanding Duck Calls

Duck Calling

Single Reed Duck Calls

A single reed duck call consists of a mouthpiece with a single reed, which is a thin piece of material typically made of Mylar or other materials. When you blow air through the call, the reed vibrates against the mouthpiece, producing duck-like sounds. The single reed design allows for a variety of tones and sounds, giving you the ability to mimic many different duck calls.

Double Reed Duck Calls

A double reed duck call consists of two reeds that are positioned close together. The reeds vibrate against each other when you blow air through the call, producing realistic duck sounds. The design of double reed calls allows for a more-forgiving duck call and is often preferred by hunters for its ease-of-use in mimicking various duck vocalizations.

Single Reed vs. Double Reed Duck Calls

The main difference between single reed and double reed duck calls lies in the number of reeds used in the call and the resulting sound characteristics. Here’s a breakdown of the key distinctions:

Number of Reeds

  • Single Reed Duck Call: It has only one reed, which is a thin strip of material that vibrates against the mouthpiece when air is blown through the call.
  • Double Reed Duck Call: It has two reeds, positioned close together. The reeds vibrate against each other when air is blown through the call.

Sound Characteristics

  • Single Reed Duck Call: Single reed calls are often associated with a louder, more versatile range of tones. They require more skill to master but will provide you with the ability to produce a broader variety of duck sounds, including loud hail calls and soft, subtle quacks.
  • Double Reed Duck Call: Double reed calls are generally easier to use, making them suitable for beginners. They produce mellower and softer tones, making them effective for close-in calling situations. You might prefer double reed calls for producing realistic quacks and feeding chuckles.


  • Single Reed Duck Call: Single reed calls will offer you more versatility in terms of the range of sounds they can produce. If you’re a skilled caller, you can likely mimic a wider variety of duck vocalizations with a single reed duck call.
  • Double Reed Duck Call: Double reed calls will give you simplicity and ease-of-use. While they may not offer you as much versatility as single reed calls, they excel in certain scenarios, especially when you need a softer touch.

Ultimately, the choice between a single reed and a double reed duck call depends on your preference and skill level, as well as the specific hunting conditions and the types of duck sounds you’re looking for; however, if you’re just starting out then we would recommend sticking with double reed duck calls.

Basics of Duck Calls

Duck Calling

1. Quack

The quack is a fundamental duck sound, and it is used by female ducks. It is a versatile call that can convey different messages, such as contentment, communication, or a warning.

2. Feed Call

The feeding call is a series of rapid and excited calls that ducks make when they are feeding. You can use feeding chuckles to create the impression of a safe and abundant feeding area.

3. Hail Call

Hail calls are loud and high-pitched calls used to grab the attention of ducks at a distance. You can use a hail call to reach out to far-off ducks and get them to turn towards your location.

4. Comeback Call

The comeback call is a series of inviting and persuasive calls meant to entice ducks that are flying away. You’ll use this call to make the ducks turn around and come back towards you.

5. Greeting Call

Greeting calls are social calls made by ducks to each other. These calls convey a sense of camaraderie and safety within the group. You can use greeting calls to simulate a friendly and secure environment for your prey.

Tips for Duck Calling Success

Duck Calling

1. Practice Regularly

Practice is crucial for mastering duck calls. Spend time practicing various calls and sequences to improve your skills and mimic realistic duck sounds.

2. Observe Duck Behavior

Pay attention to the behavior of ducks in your hunting area. Observe how they respond to different calls and adjust your calling strategy accordingly.

3. Learn Duck Sounds

Familiarize yourself with the different sounds ducks make. Understand the quacks, feeding chuckles, whistles, and other vocalizations to use the appropriate call in different situations.

4. Be Realistic

Aim for realistic and natural-sounding calls. Ducks are more likely to respond to authentic-sounding calls, so avoid overusing calls and be mindful of the rhythm and cadence.

5. Adjust Volume

Adjust the volume of your calls based on the distance of the ducks. Use louder calls, like hail calls, to attract ducks at a distance, and switch to softer calls as they approach.

6. Match the Species

Use calls that match the species of ducks in your hunting area. Different duck species have distinct vocalizations, and using the appropriate calls increases your chances of success.

7. Blend In

Use proper camouflage to blend into your surroundings. Ducks have keen eyesight, and being well-hidden increases your chances of success.

8. Be Patient

Patience is key in all kinds of hunting, and that holds true for duck hunting as well. Avoid excessive calling and be patient in waiting for ducks to respond. Sometimes, less is more.


Duck calling is an art that requires practice, observation, and dedication. With the right knowledge and technique, you’ll enhance your waterfowl hunting experience and increase your chances of a successful hunt. So, grab your calls, head to the blind, and let the ducks come to you as you master the art of duck calling with iSportsman’s Duck Calling 101 guide. Happy hunting!

Now that you’ve learned the basic of duck calling, you should learn about the best places to hunt ducks all across the country. You can also read about the best duck hunting dogs to keep you company and secure your prey, all on iSportsmanUSA.


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