Understanding the Different Types of Duck Calls

There are many different types of duck calls. With this short introduction, you’ll be much closer to understanding the different types of duck calls, making you a more confident and effective hunter.


The Quack

While it might seem like the quack is the most basic of all duck calls, it’s also one of the most important to master. Because without a good quack, no hunter can expect to lure many ducks. The secret to a good quack is to put a good, crisp end to each sound. The difference between a “qua” and “QUACK!” could be the difference between a successful duck hunt and long, cold, damp, and ultimately unsuccessful hunt. 

The Sawtooth BTC (Better Than Corn) duck call is versatile enough to produce a quack call, as well as produce any of the other various calls noted further on.


The Greeting Call

The greeting call is a great way to lure ducks from a distance. It consists of a steady rhythm of notes, usually five to seven in number, that decrease in pitch and intensity as the call progresses. KANC-KANC-KANC-Kanc-Kanc-kanc-kanc.


The Feed Call or Feed Chuckle

The feed call is an elaborate, high energy call, that mimics the excitement any animal feels (humans included) when it’s time to eat. It borders on a broken chatter, and sounds something like: kitty cat dat-dat, ticky-ditty dat-dat.


The Hail Call

The hail call should be used sparingly, or not at all if the ducks are already coming in. Often overused, and over-performed by hunters, try a simple, natural hail call while the ducks are at a distance. Begin with a long, strong, Aaaaaaink. Aaaaaink. Aaaaink. And then speed up as you taper off: aaaaink-aaaink-aaaink-aaink. 


The Comeback Call

When ducks don’t respond to your call, or you want an immediate response, try the comeback call. As with most of the other calls, try to keep it simple. In nature, a comeback call is used by a hen who is calling other ducks who’ve overflown the landing zone, so make your comeback call urgent, fast, and hard. KANC-KANC-KANK-kank-kank-kank-kank.


The Lonesome Hen

An underused but effective call, the Lonesome Hen can come in quite handy with ducks who are unresponsive to other calls. Similar to a quack, start your call low, slow, and separated, and then rise suddenly in pitch and intensity. Quack. Quack. Quack-QUACK-QUACK-QUACK-quack-quack. 


The Pleading Call

The pleading call is a longer, more drawn-out, higher intensity version of the Comeback Call, and is used in similar situations, like with stubborn or call-shy ducks who refuse to return to the spread. KaAANC! KaAANC, KaAANC, Ank-ank-ank-ank. 


Whistle duck calls are a great option for younger hunters, because they’re hard to get wrong. They also make a great compliment to your other calls. Just make sure you use the right whistle with the right type of duck. Whistles are available for Mallards, Pintails, and Wigeons. 

Now you know why understanding the different types of duck calls is a crucial part of mastering your skills as a hunter. Now all you have to do is practice, and you’ll be bringing in more ducks than you ever imagined. 

Written by Frank Erwin