So much goes into a duck call, but what makes it sound good to ducks? On this episode I interview a duck call maker, hunter, musician and fellow podcaster to better understand what goes into a duck call, what really matters in the field, and how you can navigate the marketing clutter to find a duck call that is right for you.

The main goal of a duck call is to sound like a duck. It’s that simple. But most duck calls are judged by how well hunters can play them as musicians. Duck calling competitions are marvels of skill and experience, but they often sound far from what a real duck is like.

Sometimes real ducks make calls that hunters would consider quite lousy but that is because our perception can be skewed. There is another truth though that sometimes ducks do respond well to sounds that real ducks just do not make. Be it instinct or curiosity, you can have some success hunting ducks with calling sounds or sequences that do not exist in nature.

But for the new hunter, duck calling can be a rather simple affair. The goal of this episode is to talk through some of the feature and marketing of duck calls to help you discern what kinds of calls are right for you and what is worth spending your money on.

Riley is not a sponsor and I get no kickbacks, but at my request he agreed to give a 10% discount to all New Hunters Guide listeners. Just go to his website https://rylohgamecalls.com and use the code nhgcast at checkout for the 10% discount.

Every duck hunter needs a choke tube, and it is only a matter of time before you become obsessed with finding the best one. But it doesn’t need to be that complicated or intense. On this episode I talk about the basics of finding the right choke tube and I share some high-level research-based insights.

Almost all shotguns have changeable choke tubes these days. What not many people are willing to admit is that most of them will do the job just fine for hunting ducks at regular distances of 30 yards. But there are some gains to be made with finding higher quality chokes and matching them to the distance you take shots at.

Some chokes are made for certain types of shells, and some are made for specific shells themselves. My research hasn’t proven either way if they really can engineer chokes better for a specific shell, but you can count on choke manufactures having tested those shells heavily so the risk of the choke not performing with them is minimal.

Do aftermarket choke tubes improve performance? According to my firsthand field testing, they absolutely do, with some guns and some stock chokes. Stock recessed or flush chokes can often be replaced with extended aftermarket chokes for improved performance. But many of the high-end shotguns come with stock chokes just as good as aftermarket ones. 

People are obsessed with tighter and tighter patterns these days, and that sounds good, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. But we want to eat our ducks, and blasting them to shreds is not better. Ultimately you want a pattern that helps you consistently and reliably get clean kills so the birds do not suffer and are not lost, but not so tight that it destroys all edible portions of the bird. 

Listen to the podcast episode for all the details!

September can be the best month to hunt deer, depending on your land and preferences. On this episode I talk about why you would want to hunt the early archery season and how to do it effectively.

Reasons to hunt the earliest part of the season:

  • The deer have not yet been pressured; they are in their most natural habits.
  • It is warmer, so you need less gear and less budget.
  • Ground hunting is more feasible due to more available cover, which can be a cheaper way to hunt.
  • Deer are more active during the day because there is more daylight and fewer dark hours.
  • You can get into the woods after work and still have daylight to hunt.
  • Deer are likely to have not shifted to their fall and winter patterns yet, so summer scouting can pay off immediately.
  • Bucks are often still traveling in bachelor groups, multiplying potential opportunities.
  • No deer have been shot yet, giving you a chance at every buck alive that season.
  • You can tag out early to make time for hunting other things later in the season.

Listen to the episode to hear about HOW you can hunt effectively in September.

 

Shot placement is part of a deer hunter’s choice and preference to a large degree, but there are shots that are definitely more effective than others, and more ethical. On this episode I talk about not just where you can shoot a deer, but where you should in order to minimize suffering and have a quick, clean, easily recoverable kill.

Here are 6 of the different shot placement philosophies:

  1. Meat Hunter: Attempts to save as much meat as possible by shooting the deer in the head or neck.
  2. Opportunist: Will shoot at any vital area presented to take the deer home at any cost.
  3. Sketchy Hunter: Will shoot at any brown fur they see, and likely to take few deer home. This is also largely unsafe on often illegal.
  4. Heart Shooter: Aims for the heart to the kill the deer as quickly and painlessly as possible while preservice the head and neck.
  5. Traditionalist: Attempts to shoot through the largest vital area, both lungs, to produce the most consistent kills.
  6. Disabler: Tries to shoot through both shoulders so the deer is unable to run to escape.

Listen to the episode to hear the pros and cons for each shot style and which are the most effective and most ethical.

Duck hunting is a gear intensive sport and getting that gear to the field is a hurdle that every hunter needs to navigate. On this episode I talk about 5 different levels of gear and the main options for getting your equipment into the field for each. I also highlight different ways of hunting and moving gear which should help inform new and experienced hunters alike. 

  1. Extra Heavy Gear Hunting – Gear at this level either needs left in the field or brought in by vehicle, it is beyond what the hunters can bring into the woods under their own power. When you see hundreds of duck decoys, or large goose spreads, this is the only option.
  2. Heavy Gear Hunting – This is the upper range of what individuals can somehow lug to their hunting spot. Often they are using multiple jet sleds, farm carts, or boats to get it in.
  3. Medium Gear Hunting – What the average hunter is able to bring into the wood solo, or what a group can bring in without great effort. The is what most hunters are doing. This often involves what can practically be taken in on a single sled or cart. 
  4. Light Gear Hunting – What the average hunter can carry on their back without any mechanical aid. This usually consists 6-12 decoys and only the bare essentials. You would most often hunt this way if you have to cover a lot of ground, 
  5. Little to No Gear Hunting – This is for hunting on foot, moving throughout the day, usually with 0-2 decoys. This will enable you to go deep into the woods and access locations you could not get to laden down with gear. 

Most Common Tools Used

  • Jet Sled – These are heavy duty, super durable sleds designed for farm work and other rigorous activities. They can be used to drag or float hundreds of pounds of gear across just about anything at any time of year. 
  • Farm Cart – These wide wheelbase carts can make it possible to transport excessive weight with ease, as long as it is across relatively even surfaces. 
  • Open Top Kayak – Almost nothing is going to be easier than paddling into a location and floating your heavy gear in, provided of course you have the water, locations, vehicles, and equipment needed to make this option work. 

Listen to the episode to hear the options for bringing the gear for each level into the woods.

If ever there was a deep and confusing quagmire in the world of hunting, it is waterfowl hunting marketing. You have conflicting, inaccurate, deceptive, and at times even illogical claims all trying to get your attention or get you to pay more. On this episode I help you cut through the clutter of all the marketing hype so you can make informed decisions about what you really should by and what is worth paying for.

Links mentioned in the show:

In this podcast episode I cover several of the big areas of waterfowl hunting marketing such as:

Waterfowl hunting ammunition – This may be the most deceptive and confusing marketing in all of the hunting world. But with a few pointers you can learn to identify what elements of the ammo have value and what is hype.

Waterfowl hunting shotguns – It seems like duck hunting shotguns are very specialized and expensive. But what really makes a gun a waterfowl gun? Surprisingly little. Learn to discern what matters and what doesn’t.

Hunting waders – I think waders are the single most disappointing part of the waterfowl industry. They are almost all bad. And by bad I mean they fail, come apart, are easily shredded to pieces, the seams fail, the boots are terrible, the insulation is cheaply only placed around part of the foot and they never seem to last more than a season or two. What is worse, they come packed with bells and whistles that raise the price but amount to nothing once the waders leak. But you can find good waders out there if you know what to look for and what to ignore.

Hunting clothing – The cost of hunting clothing can be through the roof. And while at times there seems no way to justify the price, the marketing is relatively truthful. There are reasons garments cost what they do. Some education can help you identify what matters to you and what is worth paying for your hunting style.

Layout and A-Frame blinds – The marketers want you to think that dropping a few hundred dollars on a new blind setup will make all the difference in the world. The truth is, sometimes they can help in some situations. But rarely is this your weakest link. Most hunters would be further ahead by spending this money on practice by shooting sporting clays.

Duck and goose calls – The sky is the limit on the cost and complexity of waterfowl calls, and every call promises to make the difference and bring ducks right to your feet. You do need calls. More than one is helpful. But knowing when to part with your money is critical. Most of the time a new call is not going to change much of anything, unless you know exactly what it will add to you, and only experience can judge that effectively. As mentioned in the show, here is the link Ryloh Game Calls.

Listen to the episode to find out how to navigate the duck hunting marketing!

Learning is the most valuable thing we take away from each hunting season. And learning from someone else’s mistakes can be a great way to keep from making your own. On this episode I talk about the number 1 thing I learned during duck season last year.

Most people want to believe that every shot they take instantly kills the bird they are shooting at. Ammo companies make it their business to get people to believe that. But the truth is that this just does not always happen.

Never assume a bird is dead until you have it in hand and can confirm its condition. Always make it a point to immediately collect birds that you down. Do not wait, do not delay, do not take your eyes off of the bird. Get it and get it now. Make sure it’s dead and not suffering, and make sure the bird is not lost.

Listen to the episode for all the insights, stories, and more.