Don’t look now, but the final weekend of the 2018-19 duck season is now at hand here in Texomaland.
That’s because the current season’s run for quackers concludes in Texas and in southern Oklahoma this Sunday, Jan. 27th.
With that official closing date looming, time is officially short and sweet, leading to one last hurrah before the Quackerville party comes to an end on Sunday for yet another year.
I can tell you that after being out in Las Vegas all week as I’ve covered the 2019 SHOT Show for Outdoor Sportsman Group, I’m ready to fly home today and quit talking about duck hunting and actually start doing it again. With any luck, my plane will be on time and I can get out for another hunt or two as the current season concludes.
Even if the end-of-season ducks found locally these days are a little bit tough and call shy.
That reality 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 approach, opting for the soft sell method 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 my longtime friend Jim Lillis, a 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 last weekend calling efforts is to carry a few 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. 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 always a wooden call on my lanyard, one made of bois d’arc wood or cocobolo that allows for mellower, raspier, softer sounds that late season ducks often want to hear.
A newer call I’ve been using — one that has an incredible ducky tone with the right amount of volume — is the updated version of the old Yentzen double-reed.
Made by Charlie Holder’s Sure-Shot Game Calls company down on the Gulf Coast in Groves, Texas, the Yentzen One2 features a polymer material and screw-in reed insert. With a great mallard like sound, the One2 double-reed is one of the best duck calls I’ve blown in recent times.
Finally, I’m also using my Primos pintail/wigeon/teal whistle more often these last gasp of the season kind of days.
Not only do those particular puddle duck species respond well to such sounds, but so do wary January mallards who have heard every highball, come-back call, and feed chuckle that a standard issue duck call can make up and down the Central Flyway.
It may be the season’s tail-end this weekend, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for Texomaland waterfowlers to throw in the proverbial towel.
Instead of hitting the snooze button when the alarm goes off, simply adjust your final buzzer calling techniques and a late season limit can still can be yours.
That’s the idea, anyway. I’m sure going to give a good old fashioned try this weekend and so should you.