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SITKA Gear | 12.16.2015

Tips to Improve Your Calling

  • Pursuit: Big Game, Whitetail, Waterfowl
  • Environment: Elevated II, Subalpine, Marsh, Timber

The following first appeared in Sitka Insight Magazine. To find out more about Sitka Insight, subscribe now.

1. There is a difference between a duck call operator and a caller of ducks.

“To borrow a quote from the late and great outdoor writer Mr. Nash Buckingham, ‘A duck call in the hands of the unskilled is conservation’s greatest asset.’ I would also go on to say that ‘there is a difference between a duck call operator and a caller of ducks.’ That being said, blowing a duck call proper is not rocket science. Once you learn how to make a proper quack, you can move pretty quickly. Use a word like ‘hut,’ ‘hit,’ ‘hoot,’ ‘hot,’ ‘quit,’ ‘quack,’ or ‘whack.’ Once you get a good quack mastered, put a string together with a series of quacks. So my tip would be to learn how to quack, then learn how to read ducks.” – Jim Ronquest, Rich-N-Tone Call

2. The most overlooked is the wheeze call, specifically for mature whitetails.

“The number one thing, the most overlooked, is the wheeze call, specifically for mature whitetails. You can do it without a call, just by pressing your upper teeth against your lower lip and blowing through it. Now this is going to draw strictly mature deer. It’s going to probably scare younger deer, and they’re not going to come in, because it’s the sound a buck makes warning another buck not to come in on his doe. But if I see a big buck and he’s out of range, the wheeze is typically the first thing I do. I even wheeze blind, you know, every so often throughout the day. If they’re around and they don’t have a doe, they’re likely to come in to that challenge sound.” – Athlete Mike Mitten

3. It’s hard to start a flight when you sound like Marty McFly.

“In September, bull elk have two basic emotions they respond to: the desire to breed and the desire to fight. I usually start calling from 120-150 yards out, and I always use one of those two triggers to bring an elk closer. I start out with a few simple cow calls. If the bull is looking for a cow, that is usually all he needs to hear. However, if the bull isn’t moving my direction after a handful of cow calls, I bugle and try to start a fight with him.

"When I’m trying to get a bull to come in for a fight, it’s important to put that emotion into my calls. It’s hard to start a fight when you sound like Marty McFly. So I run my mouth. I insult him. I scream at him. If I challenge him and insult him relentlessly, I feel very confident in my chances of turning him my direction and getting him in close. Sometimes, they come in real close and real fast, and that is exactly the experience I’m looking for!” –Athlete Corey Jacobsen