From the prairies of Canada to the marshes of Louisiana, ducks hear countless hunters trying to fool them with their duck calls during the fall migration. From quacks to feeder chuckles, ducks hear it all on their way south. However, as the migration proceeds, the birds begin to learn the difference between a real quack and one that comes from a call. This is especially noticeable late in the season when it seems the birds have become highly pressured and unresponsive to any type of sound a hunter can make on a call.
This can be frustrating for hunters, especially for an above average caller that is used to fooling ducks on a regular basis. At the first sign of ducks becoming pressured and unresponsive to a duck call, it is time to change your approach. Below are several calling strategies to use when ducks become highly pressured in your area.
Perhaps the best calling strategy to use for pressured ducks is to not call at all. This may seem unnatural and unrealistic, but it is a much different approach than what the ducks are used to, which is why it works so well. By not calling, hunters do not give themselves away to ducks working the decoy spread, which in turn fools even the most pressured ducks.
Many hunters are hesitant to try this approach, especially when they are confident in their ability to call ducks in. No matter how good a hunter is at imitating the sound of a fired up Mallard hen, this approach is worth a try when the ducks in the area have become pressured.
Use a cut-down
Instead of being more quiet and calling less when the ducks are pressured, sometimes it is beneficial to produce the most and loudest quacks possible. Cut-down duck calls became famous by guides using them to fool highly pressured birds in flooded timber. This style of call has be altered to produce the raspiest and loudest quacks possible when operated correctly, which gets the ducks attention and makes them interested in what they hear.
Click the image to check out current pricing on Amazon of our favorite cut-down duck call.
If you choose to blow a cut-down at pressured ducks, there are a few sequences of calls that work best. Producing 5-6 loud and sharp quacks will get the ducks’ attention from a long distance. Once the ducks are showing interest, a loud single quack or an aggressive feeder chuckle will work to keep the birds’ attention. This style of call can be challenging to blow, but they are extremely effective on highly pressured birds when used correctly.
Another way to fool pressured ducks with a duck call is to make single quacks when the birds are circling the decoys. The single quacks should be soft and quiet. This approach works well because it allows hunters to be different than others around them, all while being able to get and keeps the ducks’ attention in a non-aggressive way. Staying disciplined and not calling too loud, even when the ducks look like they’re not interested, is the key.
Many hunters believe a single quack imitates a lonely or lost mallard hen. Therefore, this tactic can be effective late in the season when the birds are pressured and looking for a mate for the spring breeding season. Butch Richenback, from RNT Calls, gives a demonstration of the single quack in the video below.
Call on the turn
Many hunters call at ducks from the moment they see them to the moment they are in the decoys and the shot is called. This works well, especially when you are set up where the ducks want to be and they are not pressured by other hunters. That said, when the ducks show the slightest indication of being pressured, changing up the timing of your call sequence can fool them.
Once you have the ducks’ attention, let the birds work your decoy spread. Instead of calling at them the whole time they are circling, wait until they are making a hook or look like they have lost interest. When you see this, then it is time to hit them with 4-5 sharp quacks on your duck call. By doing this, you are less likely to give your position away to ducks, which is what you want to avoid most with pressured ducks.
Use a duck whistle
A less traditional way to fool pressured ducks with a duck call is to use a duck whistle. Many species of ducks whistle and therefore this creates a realistic approach to calling at ducks. Pintail, widgeon, and mallard drakes are just a few of the most prevalent species of waterfowl that communicate by whistling. Many hunters do not utilize a duck whistle, but it will certainly add a realism factor to your calling.
Learning to blow a duck whistle is simple. It does not take years of practice to learn like traditional duck calling does. When the ducks get pressured, using a duck whistle is surefire way to get ducks’ attention, sound realistic, and have more success compared to those around you.
Use a goose call
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to get pressured ducks within range is by using a goose call. Many hunters argue that ducks are comfortable around geese and therefore have tendency to be around them. If you have 1-2 dozen goose floaters in your decoy spread, you should consider blowing a goose call to see how they respond. A few clucks from a short-reed will do the job and create enough noise and attention. This approach may seem counterintuitive and useless, but it has proven successful for many hunters chasing pressured ducks.
Hunting pressured waterfowl can get frustrating, especially when you are a seasoned hunter and know you have what it takes to fill your strap. At the first sign of birds in the area becoming unresponsive to your calls, it is time to change things up. Using any of the methods mentioned above will set you apart from those around you and give you more success while out in the field when it comes to hunting pressured ducks.
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