While evidence of hunting calls are observant in Native American history from over 4000 years ago, the duck call did not gain popularity until the mid-1800s, and the first patent was not made until 1870. Ever since then, the duck call has been used for generations to lure in ducks by imitating their diverse calls. These calls are similar to an instrument in that they require fine tuning and sometimes years to master.

How are Duck Calls Made?

The design of a duck is relatively simple and is consistently made out of five vital components which include:

  • Barrel-This is the primary body piece of the call from where air is blown into the device. It is hollow and often aesthetically pleasing.
  • Reed-There can be more than one reed present in the call. The reed is the essential piece towards creating sound. It is often made of rigid plastic.
  • Tone Board-The reed is placed on top of this component. The reeds vibration against the board creates sound.
  • Stopper/Insert – This component is the end piece, which consists of a smaller open barrel that can be used for fine tuning. The tone board and reed are situated in this barrel
  • Wedge-This piece is used to hold the reed and tone board in place when inserted into the stopper. It is typically made of cork.

When all pieces are assembled, the stopper is placed into the barrel, thus creating the duck call. As calls age and lose their distinct sound, some of these components (primarily the wedge) may need to be replaced.

How can the Sound of a Duck Call be Modified?

Similar to a trombone or a clarinet, the one operating the duck call can have significant impact on the sound of the call. This can only be addressed through practice and experience. Other factors that can influence the sound of a call are:

  • Construction Material- Duck calls are primarily made of wood, acrylic, or polycarbonate. Wood is a traditional material but can easily be damaged over time. The benefit of a wood call is that they produce soft and mellow calls. Acrylic calls are more durable and deliver sharper and louder calls. Polycarbonate calls typically fall somewhere in between wood and acrylic calls.
  • Barrel Thickness-A thicker barrel will absorb more vibrations, which in turn will produce a deeper, more mellow tone as opposed to a thinner barrel.
  • Component Variations-A call’s sound will change based on the: diameter of tone channel, number of reeds, position of reed, and length and width of tone board.

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