Countrymans Diary

The art of calling

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Well with so many muckers (friends) out there who have been emailing us here at, The Countryman’s Diary and asking how The Ole Hedge Creeper is so successful, and how I do all the calling. I thought I had better put pen to paper as it were and give you a taster of how I call all the different quarry animals and birds etc. Now this will be just a whistle stop look as several different ways and I wont be covering them all in detail as that would take an entire book and more time than I have at present to explain it all to you.

 
Were to start hmmmmmm? I suppose right back at the start when I was just a Young Hedge Creeper accompanying my Pappy (grandfather). My Dad and My Uncle Dave (dads brother) out on the many hunting and fishing trips both by day and by night. The first time I can remember seeing a duck call was when my Pappy pulled an old wooden thing from his pocket on an evening flight well over thirty years ago now.
 
This  magnificent flight sits in my memory, as if it were yesterday and was the first time I had ever seen anyone actually talk Duck, as my Pappy put it. I was transfixed as the mallard passed over head and my pappy laying it on thick calling them. I saw them tip their wing turn on the wind slip air paddles down straight into our decoys. This Ole Hedge Creeper has been hooked on calling since that very first duck flight under the old willows over that splash oh so many years ago now.
 
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I have been truly blessed, to have been taught how to call from some of the old master and that includes my amazing family of countrymen of the old school. My uncle Dave a master corvid caller who can call any corvid just with his own mouth no need for a man made one and he has forgotten more about calling foxes than I will ever know, My Dad is not a bad goose and duck caller but is master at calling pigeons and squirrels and my boy Ryan well that boy is just like my Pappy he talks duck and goose better than the water fowl them selves.
 
As for me I call myself a jack of all trades but a master of none and with the calling I practice and hand tune my calls to my ear and well if I say so myself I am not too shabby and get good results more often than not, I was fortunate to spend a fare bit of time in the United States Of America over several years on and off and got to fish hunt and well learn to duck and goose call over there.
 
The Americans are masters at calling many things but WOW those guys know how to call wildfowl for anyone who watches Duck Dynasty  will know this, I was fortunate to have had some sort of lessons at places like Bass Pro and shot shows over there from guys like Jeff follies and Buck Gardiner and many others each teaching me something different but all proved to me you must study your quarry and literally learn to talk Duck and Goose or corvid squirrel pigeon fox what ever, The point is I am making you have to study your quarry and learn to speak their language.
 
Like I say this is a whistle stop look at some of the calling I do but not all and only in brief as it will take a book to get through it all, But one thing my Pappy taught me is keep an open mind as you will learn something new every day and of course he was right.
 
Duck:
 
Mallard most common of all the duck around the world now its the female that quacks the males make more of a drumming noise, I will teach you this away from these pages in one of my classes at a game fair etc on The Pass It On Young Sports Stand ( www.pass-it-on-young-sports.org.uk ) or at a taster day.
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All calls are a musical instrument you don’t just blow them you have to use your diaphragm and control the wind with it and your tong, You don’t just blow them puffing your cheeks out a bit like blowing on the mirror its more haaaaaaa haaaaaa if you puff your cheeks your doing it wrong and that goes for all calls, Also you have to give it voice and I use reference words for this, I will get to all this shortly so here goes lets get you calling grab hold of what ever call you have most will cup between the thumb and fore finger of the hand with the other hand we will be ready to give back pressure thus giving the voice tone.
 
Also its no good just calling duck on a call hoping they will drop in, Yes you can give a few quacks to see whats about and a bit of feed chatter but to truly call a duck or indeed any bird and most animals you have to be able to see them to call them, I know many of you might not agree and that’s fine what works for you is cool and what works for me the same, I was taught to call a duck etc you have to see the bird look at its wing tips etc and they will tell you if your talking the right language or not, Calling is both simple and complex at the same time and takes practice not only mastering the calls but in the study of the quarry you pursue,.
 
Mallard:
 
The feed chatter I use a reference word and that is digger and so by talking into you call very fast and by opening and closing your hand over the end giving back pressure, We will now say into your call Digger Digger Digger Digger Digger Digger Digger really fast, The emulates the ducks dabbling in the water for food a bit like hey that my food to the other ducks and thus attract those flying over to come down and have a look whats for tea, Oh never call when a bird is right over you as they will pin point you and see your there waiting with a bang bang stick (gun) and about to feed them shot.
 
The Hail Call that’s when duck are flying past or at distance going away etc and you lay it on this really load and a strong long notes still using the diaphragm and shutting off the note against the roof of your mouth with your tong, I use the reference word Hut in the short form and Huuuuut in the longer form, I normally go with Huuuut Huuuuuut Huuuuuut Huut Huut Hut hut finishing of with the short form
 
Now you will say I don’t know any duck that sounds like that and I asked the same thing, I was at a show in a calling competition whilst at Bass Pro ( A massive American Hunting shop chain) and well what I was told that ducks only hear every third note on the wind? I still don’t know if that’s true but it works and I was taught if something works use it if it does not don’t use it again.
 
The Come Back call I use this most times after duck have flown over or passed me by ignoring my decoys the reference word again is both long and short form, Hut Hut hut Hut Huuuut Huuuut Huuutt Huut Huut Huut Huuut Huuuut etc again closing that wind from your diaphragm off against the roof of your mouth sharply.
 
 
The Mating Call this works really well in the end of season when ducks are pairing up, Its a bit like a lonesome female mallard saying to a beautiful green head mallard (male) hey there sexy home on down here for some food and some loving, The reference word again is Huut both in long and shot form, We start of with three short Huuts each one at least one second apart I normally do two seconds followed by three long Huuuuuuut Huuuuuuut Huuuuuuuts again shutting that wind of sharp at the end of each note.
 
So its Hut–Hut–Hut–Huuuuuuuut Huuuuuuuut Huuuuuuuuuut thus giving the impression the hotel for ducks is open and watch them green heads slip air paddles down and come right in for their dose of shot.
 
 
Teal & wigeon:
 
Are a bit hard to explain in word what with all the whistles and pop and pips I will see if we can upload one of my calling videos they are a bit rough and ready and done whilst out in the field so bear with me on this one.
 
Geese:
 
Much the same as above its very hard to put into words my calling techniques for geese weather Pink Foot or Grey Lag or even the great honkers the Canada Geese with all the wink winks hooooooong hoooooongs and Honks Honks let alone the feed chatters etc again I will try and add one of my videos but bear with us.
 
Corvids:
 
Crow family most common that we can shoot carrion crow/rook/jackdaw/magpie/jay and some calls will cross over as often these corvids can be found feeding together, The Magpie sounds a bit like caaacaccacacacacacac and what I use is an old camera film pot with some shot in and shake it to emulate the the call of the magpie this seems to work for me, The Jay is a sort of shriek and well I quite simply have not got that mastered yet, I sort of use wind going up the side of my tong whilst moving my cheek and blowing sort of out, This some times works well other times well I look like I am having a sort of stroke much to the amusement of my shooting companions but none the less this may help you if you need it.
 
The Jackdaw:
 
The best call I have found for this is the cheap small acme one and by using your teeth pinching the end and again using the diaphragm and closing the air off and using back pressure at the same time open and close very fast I just the reference word jackada jackada jackda jackada jackada jackada as many times as your wind will let you, This really works and over the year have called thousands of these little corvids into shot range, The call will do the crow call too but is not great at that but if its the only one you have then use it I will cover crow in few lines times so follow that instruction for this call too.
 
Rook & Crow:
 
I use much the same call for these birds and by studying them I learn to call back to them, I once had a half hour conversation with a carrion crow who literally talked back to me, I have no idea what we were talking about but he got so angry in the end he came charging in calling like crazy and I shot him, The calls I mainly use are again from America and I picked these up whilst at a Turkey Calling Competition, They are made by Knight & Hale and I think they call them their magnum turkey/crow caller I cant remember but wow don’t they work on these clever corvids when I hit them with these calls.
 
Again using your diaphragm and cutting the wind off at the roof of your mouth also using back pressure with your other hand the reference word is caaaaa—caaaaaa—caaaaa, Now there is no set sequence to this I usually do the three calls and see what the corvid or corvids call back with practise and time spent you will learn how to answer them weather it be on caaaaaa or ten caaaaaa in a row etc.
 
Wood Pigeon:
 
This really works especially at roosting time but I have used the pigeon call on hard to shoot days and made a real difference and literally turned pigeons that are flying away right around as if I had put a magnet on them, I use the acme pigeon and dove call for all my calling of any pigeon and dove and the reference word I use is garr again using the diaphragm and cutting the wind of with my tongue on the roof of my mouth, Around here the wood pigeons call in a set of four full garrs and a half gaaa stopping sharp on that gaaa they do this set of calling twice then stop for a bit unless another pigeon calls back, If you don’t believe me sit quiet in a wood and listen and you will hear it for yourself, Like I say this really works and many guys I shoot with have been surprised when this works.
 
Collard Dove/Feral Pigeon:
 
The Acme dove call same as above with the wood pigeons works really well too on shooting around farm buildings that are plagued with these birds, Many of us know as soon as we take a shot they all take off and either go some were else or fly round in circles to high to shoot, I find this calling method works really well when using an air rifle when shooting farm buildings etc and the birds just come back in to the call and pitch in no time, Like I say this works for me if this helps great if not no lost nothing gained eh.
 
Squirrels I am not much of a caller and yes they do work but again I cant help much on this one but I know Pro duck and goose. Here: Do some great calls and would be a good place to look for any call including a squirrel call, I prefer sitting quietly after putting out a feeding station for a few days and get them used to that and hit them with a lead aspirin from my Air Arms S410 air rifle, But I have noticed that they let out warning calls and mating calls etc so I am going to study calling them a bit and see were it takes me.
 
Fox:
 
Now the fox is a difficult creature at times as Wiley and clever as any corvid but can be as stupid sheep too, I have covered calling them in my Out Foxing Charlie series here on The Countryman’s Diary so I recommend taking a look at those as there is no point writing about it here when a fuller explanation can be sought on my other article’s.
 
Well that’s my short round up of some of my calling but I have not covered even a quarter of it here this will take time and oh so many more pages, Also there are so many different calls out the from using your own hand and mouth to electronic calls to double reed calls to single reed calls with single reed on a double reed frame and vice versa, What I will say is get out there study your quarry practice your calling and remember a call is a musical instrument and use properly learn field craft as no call or gadget in the world can replace that and the knowledge learn’t and gained by actually being out there.
 
The few pics I have chosen to go with this article prove that calling if done properly can really tip the balance when you need, Calling does not always work and this comes down to experience and only with time spent will you get that, Its like the goose pic we had ducks of all kinds coming into the decoys on the old maize stubble and My Dad and my Boy really wanted to shoot the duck but we held firm waiting on the geese, I was right not to shoot the duck as I knew in my gut the geese would come even though the lads did not believe me.
 
That evening flight we had a goose flight of a life time and I bagged six Canada geese (although I could only retrieve 5) as skeen after skeen came to our calling and our decoys with all the boys getting at least a goose each, My other goose fell in the farmers back garden and he claimed that one and as they say a fair exchange is no robbery, So get out there and get calling if you need any help or advice come see us on The Pass It On Young Sports stands at most game fairs.
 
Both Myself and Greg will do what we can to help and please keep the amazing emails coming in both Greg and I try to answer every one personally but some do slip through the net, Well I hope I have passed on just a little knowledge on calling and until the next time may I wish you all dry powder and straight barrels muckers.
 
 
 
 

By The Ole Hedge Creeper
Aka: Rob Collins

 

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