Calling all birds - A Hard Core guide to waterfowl calls

Most Hard Core waterfowlers could fill a shopping cart with the amount of duck and goose calls they own. Calls today come in a wide variety of materials, colors and claims of what the call will do for the hunter. 03-400-0036_AdjustableLanyard-300x214 You have a choice of which calls you put on your Hard Core Lanyard for a hunt. So what drives Hard Core hunters to select one call over another to put on their Hard Care Lanyard for a hunting trip? There are a number of reasons and one overwhelming thing, we have to remember to not go by what we think sounds best, but what actually sounds like a bird. Scouting plays a big part in knowing what calls are needed for a particular hunt. Hard Core hunters know that using your ears is just as important as using your eyes when it comes to scouting. Finding the birds is one thing, knowing how they are talking is another. As any seasoned Hard Core Hunter will tell you, it changes as the season goes on too. Materials Calls today come in three basic material types - acrylic, plastic and wood. Each has advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to you to decide what you want from your calls and how much you want to spend. DSC_0350-300x199 From the DRC Acrylic call, to the RNT Polycarbonate call to the DJ wooden call, there are many choices in materials for waterfowl calls. When we’re looking at calls, the acrylic calls are the sexy option. They are pricey, but have all the cool color options. They are loud and really carry over open fields and water. And they are extremely durable. You never worry about water being soaked into an acrylic call. For geese, I have tried a lot of different acrylic calls and currently love my DRC CORE call. The CORE that I own is a prototype made by the call designer Cory Loeffler. It lacks the fancy colors of production calls, but is the same otherwise. It really works well on Midwest Canada geese as it has a slightly higher pitch. The internals of the call offer a good low-end sound too, which is very important to me. I can’t recommend it enough. For ducks, the same basic principles apply, acrylic calls are going to be mush louder and carry further. The biggest difference in duck calls comes from the reed assembly. Double reed calls are a bit raspier in general, but the sound doesn’t carry as far. Single reed calls require a little more practice to sound like ducks, but are, in general, easier to blow. They also have an edge in volume. Companies like Duck Commander have come out with a triple-reed duck call. Triple-reed calls are versatile calls that have qualities of single and double reeds. Plastic, or polycarbonate, calls are usually offered by companies as lower cost versions of their higher end acrylic calls. There are also a lot of good poly calls out there. Flextone and Primos come to mind. My personal favorite plastic call is, well I have no idea what it is, although I have my suspicions that it is a Lohman’s. I can’t really explain it other than to say it has a really raspy, nasty low-end tone and it makes a good sounding, old school “honk.” I really only use it to make an occasional sound here and there to break things up. It makes a good “feeding chuckle” sound too. For wooden calls, there are different wood varieties available. When it comes to goose calls, most if the popular ones out there are walnut, a dense wood with great tonal properties. I have t admit that I love wood calls. When I first started hunting waterfowl, the guy I hunted with, who was a decent caller, had a lanyard full of P.S. Olt calls. When that company faded away, one of the call builders started a new company, DJ Illinois River Valley Calls. As you might imagine, I’ve been pretty fond of these calls. DSC_0353-300x199 Dog shaming, Hard Core style. The scary thing, the tonal characteristics of this particular call improved after my dog chewed it. I wouldn't recommend it though. It's Not Easy! There is nothing that can sound as organic as a wooden call that I’ve found so far. The two biggest issues with wooden calls are volume and durability. My wooden calls are used mostly for close in work. One field I hunt is pretty tight with the tree lines surrounding the field, so the geese are on top of you before you really know they are there. Wood calls work very well here. Also, a wooden call swells with moisture, which not only affects tone, but it can cause the call to flat out not work. It is a real downfall to a wooden call, as Hard Core waterfowlers don’t stop hunting when the rain or snow is coming down. I would recommend that if you’re using a wooden call in wet weather, you keep the call tucked into your Hard Core Weather-Tec Rain Jacket. Not to mention your dog might wreck one… Not that my dog ever did that. Tune the band DSC_0342-e1380207843662-199x300 This is just a fraction of the calls I own. There are so many good choices out there. Picking the right ones. It's Not Easy! Hard Core waterfowlers know that calls need to be tuned. It is much like a musical instrument. Slight adjustments to the reeds can make a world of difference in how the call sounds. The tuning can be tweaked too for different conditions. Tuning a call is delicate work, so it is best to practice before you hit the field. One of the reasons the Hard Core Elite Blind Bag has an external pocket for your calls is so that when you get out in the field in the morning, you can easily get the calls out and not only warm up your call and your mouth to calling, but also see if the call needs to be tweaked and tuned, said Hard Core Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mike Galloway. It is just another feature that shows how much thought and development goes into any Hard Core product. One of the great things about duck and goose calls is that there are a lot of people making them now. Hard Core hunters have found that quite often, there is a call maker close to wear they live and they can quite often work with the call maker to create a custom call specifically designed for a specific location. That level of devotion is truly Hard Core. It’s Not Easy! Be sure to check out Hard Core’s Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest updates and contests! Get all of your Hard Core gear at Dick's Sporting Goods and other sporting goods retailers! Also check out our friends at Delta Waterfowl for some more tips including video clips on calling techniques. By Derrek Sigler