Waterfowlers, don’t look now but the final two weeks of duck season are at hand.
That means that time is short and sweet, leading to one or two last hurrahs before the Quackerville party comes to an end for another year.
Even if the end-of-season ducks are tough and a bit call shy.
But that doesn’t mean that end of January mallards and gadwalls are impossible to call in however.
What it does mean is that you have to adjust your calling, opting for the soft sell approach when a flock of Susie’s and their greenhead suitors fly over the decoy spread.
How do you do that?
First of all, let the birds tell you what they want to hear on any given day.
“I’ll call moderately at first and watch the reaction of the birds,” says Jim Lillis, a longtime Sherman-based waterfowler and retired senior regional director for Ducks Unlimited.
“If they respond well to that, then I’ll get after them. But if a flock or two peels off and acts call shy, then I’ll back off and do a minimal amount of calling.”
Another way to adjust your calling is to carry different calls on your lanyard.
I always carry a loud, open-water style acrylic call that lets me crank up the volume and sound off to distant flocks.
But I also carry another acrylic call that is designed for softer, in-close calling while still giving the sharp, clean sounds that the material is known for.
In addition to acrylic calls, there is also always a wooden call on my lanyard, one made of bois d’arc wood or cocobola that allows for mellower, raspier, softer sounds that late season ducks often want to hear.
A new call that has an incredible ducky tone — with the right amount of volume — is the updated version of the old Yentzen double-reed.
Made of a polymer material and featuring a screw-in reed insert, the Sure-Shot Game Calls’ Yentzen One is one of the best calls I’ve ever blown.
How good is it? Charlie Holder’s company actually sold out the Yentzen One.
Finally, in addition to the above, I’m using my Primos pintail/wigeon/teal whistle more often these days.
Not only do those particular species respond well to such sounds but so do January mallards who have heard every highball, come-back call and feed chuckle that a standard issue duck call can make.
It may be the season’s tail-end but that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. Adjust your calling techniques and a late season limit can still be yours.
Even at the very end of January.