One of the first purchases by a new or beginning duck hunter is often the Duck Call. It is undoubtedly an essential tool in the duck hunter’s arsenal. But, contrary to popular opinion – it probably shouldn’t be one of the first things you buy when you start hunting ducks. It’s tempting, we know – all the hunters on the tv shows have them, the guys at the local refuge are blowing them, and even your great uncle, who is twice removed, is blowing his duck call, and the mallards are just falling from the heavens as they wear their awesome new waders.
The truth is – a duck call is an invaluable tool, but if misused on a hunt, it can destroy all your hopes of having a successful outing. The only thing worse than killing your hunt is buying call after call, hoping that one of them finally sounds halfway decent.
Today, we’re going to look at the best duck calls for beginners. But remember, all duck hunters should have a duck call, but not all of them should blow them on a hunt (at least until they get the hang of it).
Things to consider & What to look for in a duck call for beginners
There’s a lot to think about when you’re looking for a beginner friendly duck call. First, you have to think about what species of duck you’re going to be hunting. Second, you’re really looking for something that is easy to blow and won’t break the bank. Chances are, you’ll improve the more you practice (in your car, of course). With improvement often comes more investment, but you don’t ever give a 15-year-old the keys to a Ferrari in order to teach them how to drive. So we’re looking for something that ducks will respond to where you are hunting, and something that is easy to blow and won’t break the bank.
Get the right species
The question you have to ask yourself is – what species of ducks will you be hunting? Just about every waterfowl hunter will have a hen mallard call on their lanyard. Mallards are one of the most common species in North America and lots of ducks will respond to a mallard call. Though, right next to their mallard call – most hunters will have a whistle as well as they target whistling ducks like teal, pintail and widgeon. You simply can’t go wrong by having a good mallard call and a whistle on your lanyard as it covers the widest range of ducks in North America.
Easy to Blow Duck Calls
In case you didn’t know, not all duck calls are equal in regards to ease of use. Some calls require more air; some require less air. Some duck calls require a more precise technique, while others don’t require as much. Most often, you’ll hear how all the guys use these awesome single reed duck calls. Well, if you’re new – give it a shot. If it is really difficult, go on ahead and grab you a double reed call. There are some quality ones out there that we’ll go over in a bit.
Calls That Won’t Break The Bank
As we said earlier – you are most likely going to become a better duck caller with practice. The more you practice, the more techniques you’ll learn and the more finesse you’ll be looking to use. Finesse usually comes with a pretty hefty price tag – at the time of writing this, I currently own over $1,500 dollars of duck calls. Each call does a different thing better than the other; at least, that’s what I tell myself to make it not hurt as much.
Your job as a new duck hunter is to learn. So grab something (hopefully from the list below), and start practicing. If you don’t like it, you can always purchase a different one – why? Because you didn’t break the bank while learning and trying different types of calls.
Now, let’s get into it – what is the best duck call for beginners?
Here Are Our Top 5 Best Duck Calls for Beginners
- Haydel’s Game calls Inc. DR-85 Mallard Duck Call for Hunting, Double Reed, Adjustable. Legendary Proven Meat Call
If you follow any old-timer out to the blind (don’t do this, by the way, they are crazy), you’ll most likely find one of these Haydel DR-85 duck calls on their lanyard. I’m not joking either, this is probably the most used call of all time, and it’s for a good reason. Every new hunter that winds up going out to the duck blind with me, I wind up sending them this exact call.
To be honest, I really don’t know why it’s so good. It’s a plastic, double reed duck call that just sounds like a duck. If you’re new to duck hunting, PLEASE get you one of these calls. I say please because one of you might wind up hunting next to me at Grizzly Island, and I’m so tired of the kazoo sounds that I hear so frequently. One thing to note: don’t smell the barrel of this call after you get it (I’m warning you).
Before you go out and start blowing a hen mallard call in the field, you should definitely grab a duck whistle. By far the easiest call to use out there, and if you scare the ducks off with this, you probably shouldn’t be hunting at all. The 6 in 1 Whistle gives you the flexibility to mimic or imitate those vibrant-looking and delicious tasting whistling ducks out there.
With this 6-in-1 whistle, you can do those soft teal “peeps”, or the famous wigeon whistle or Pintail flutter. This call is very simple to master, and ducks respond to it. I’ve probably called in more mallards with this whistle than any of the other mallard calls that I own. If you don’t have one of these on your call lanyard, it’s time to get one.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-blow call that’s made by a real legend – the Buck Gardner Double Nasty is the call to get. I said above that I give all the new hunters I know a DR-85, and that’s true, but what is also true is that if they don’t fall in love with that call, the very next one I give them is the Double Nasty Double Reed.
This call is available with some pretty handy DVDs and or CDs of Buck Gardner showing you the different types of calls that you can blow with the double nasty. It’s a pretty cool deal, and somewhere I still have one of those CDs. No doubt, if you look in my truck – you’ll surely find a double nasty duck call rolling around somewhere. It’s just a great, easy-to-blow duck call.
Echo has been around for a long time, and it’s for a good reason. The quality of duck calls that this company makes is top-notch. Not only do you get great quality, but you also get it at a great price point. The Echo Timber Double Reed is a great-sounding call that gives you a good low-end and higher-end to play with.
This call can sort of help you with a leg up as you move into some of the nicer calls that they have. If you’re looking for an entry-level call from a superior brand – this is a great option for you.
It’s time to step out of the box just a little bit here. We stumbled upon this small(er) company a few years back and have been super impressed with what they are doing in the duck call industry. Their Classic Mallard call is so easy to blow, sounds really ducky, and can go both high and low – it’s a really versatile call.
Did we mention that this call is made out of aluminum? Yeah, pretty wild. It’s a bit more expensive than the other calls on our list, but if it makes you feel better, you can justify it by how cool their 3D Mallard Calls are with their numerous designs.
If you are a new duck hunter, or maybe you are just getting started with actually learning how to call ducks – don’t forget to get a quality duck call lanyard from our friends over at Ackley Outdoors. Having a quality lanyard that has all the features you need and want can really make a difference in the quality of a hunt.
If you’re looking for something right away, grab one of their high-quality paracord duck call lanyards that are in stock, or if you want something a bit more custom, they offer completely custom waterfowl lanyards as well.
Conclusion: What’s the best duck call for beginners?
So, what is the best duck call for beginners? There are lots of options out there, but no doubt – our favorites and the ones we use and also give out are the ones on this list. The goal is to find something easy to blow, sounds like a duck, and ultimately won’t break the bank.
Grab one of these calls, or even two or three, and try them. See which one works best with you and your calling style and technique (as you learn). Stay tuned for more information on how to blow a duck call coming up.
About the author:
Matt is a Bay Area native who spends his weekdays in the world of Search Engine Optimization and then his weekends hunting and fishing. Born and raised in California among a family who didn’t hunt or fish, he’s had to learn things independently or through the help and guidance of a select few.
You can often find Matt hunting the public refuges around California for waterfowl during the winter months. All other times, Matt will be split between chasing deer, turkey, bear, pheasant, dove, and the occasional pig or two. Matt has a passion for seeing young and first-time hunters begin and grow into becoming true outdoorsmen.
When he’s not hunting or fishing, you can find Matt helping businesses grow their online presence via digital strategies and Search Engine Optimization as the Owner/Operator of Digital Oak.
Matt lives in Pinole, CA, with his wife, two future waterfowl hunting daughters, his Labrador “Bear” and French Bulldog affectionately named “Champ”.