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Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Duck Commander Jase Roberts Pro Duck Call
Duck Commander
Jase Roberts Pro Duck Call
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Best for Experts
Bottom Line

Produces mallard hen sounds with single-reed harmonization and double-reed toughness.

Pros

High-performing polycarbonate mouthpiece won't swell or shrink. Easy-blowing design allows for vocalization range to suit open-water high pitches or raspy finishes. Produces consistent sounds in all weather conditions.

Cons

Will freeze on cold or wet days and screeches if blown loud.

Best Bang for the Buck
Duck Commander Ole Raspy Duck Call
Duck Commander
Ole Raspy Duck Call
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Best for Beginners
Bottom Line

Designed from high-impact plastic, this produces unique sounds that work best for beginning callers.

Pros

Proven field technology from Phil Robertson. High-impact plastic construction with double reed and friction fit. Brings in mallards from the skies with simple techniques. Great for all hunters, especially beginners.

Cons

Plastic construction prevents fine-tuning or customization.

Duck Commander Triple Threat Duck Call
Duck Commander
Triple Threat Duck Call
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

The best single design that blends a combination of high-quality construction and accurate sound production.

Pros

Uses a triple-reed design to improve the accuracy, volume, and clarity. Capable of producing lower tones and high pitches for different types of birds. Easy to blow. Great for beginners.

Cons

Can freeze up in colder, freezing temperatures.

Primos 829 Mallard Duck Call
Primos
829 Mallard Duck Call
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Easiest to Use
Bottom Line

One unit with a unique design to produce the sound of an entire flock with a single breath.

Pros

Shaker design with a special tuning hole creates the sound of an entire flock. The result sound is high-pitched with a great amount of volume. Easy to use. Made of high-quality materials.

Cons

Pure sounds are difficult to produce with the raspy sound.

Primos 805 Duck Call
Primos
805 Duck Call
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Durable & Rugged
Bottom Line

Simple, durable, and easy to store and use without worrying about damaging the shell.

Pros

This uses an efficient design that doesn't require much air for a good level of volume. Made of thin Mylar. Easy to blow. Narrow profile makes it easy to store in a pocket when not in use.

Cons

Quality of sound drops at greater distances.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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91
Consumers
Consulted
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Researched
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Buying guide for best duck calls

There’s nothing quite like rising in the early morning hours before sunrise, bundling up in layers of clothing, and heading out to the duck blind. The air is crisp, and life seems to play out as it should. You’ve painted your face to blend into the brush, you’re wearing a pair of waders so you can easily retrieve the ducks, and now all that’s left is to draw them into the area.

Every duck hunter uses different strategies, albeit with the same tools: duck calls. Hunters can choose from single- or double-reed calls, which affects the versatility of the calls. They can select among wood, acrylic, or polycarbonate calls, each with its own pros and cons. Hunters must also consider where and how they will be hunting ducks in order to select the best type of call to suit their needs.

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Whether you’re a beginning duck hunter or a novice, bring several different duck calls on your hunt in case your hunting location or conditions change.

Key considerations

Single reeds vs. double reeds

Every duck call either has a single reed or a double reed inside of it. The vibrating reeds produce the sound of the duck call when the hunter blows into it.

A single-reed duck call requires more voice but less air than a double-reed call. Hunters must add some voice from their throats to produce a realistic duck sound. But once the duck sound is produced, little air is required to operate the call. There’s a larger range of sounds available with a single-reed call.

A double-reed duck call produces a raspy sound, created from the two reeds rubbing on each other. Double-reed calls are easier to master but more difficult to blow than single-reed calls. They also have a shorter audible range than single-reed calls.

Volume

Depending on where the hunter is located, different duck calls with different volumes may be required. In a big river or open lake, the call needs to be able to travel a long distance. In enclosed areas like flooded timber, wooded ponds, and beaver ponds, the call doesn’t need to travel as far due to its echo. When used over a longer distance, the call must be a higher pitch and a greater volume. For close environments, the call should be lower in pitch and softer in volume.

Materials

  • Wood: When hunters imagine a classic duck call, it’s most likely made from wood. Historically, duck calls have been considered basic woodwind instruments. The wood produces a softer and mellower call than acrylic, but the wood is more difficult to maintain. Because it’s porous, a wooden duck call absorbs moisture and can swell. After each hunt, a wooden duck call must be dismantled so the interior parts can dry. Close-up duck hunters often prefer wooden calls.

  • Polycarbonate: Duck calls made from polycarbonate plastic make sounds that fall somewhere between the softness of wood calls and the sharpness of acrylic calls. They are the least expensive type of duck calls and the most durable because they are made from a mold rather than assembled from separate pieces.

  • Acrylic: The high-density material of acrylic duck calls produces sharper and louder calls than wood or polycarbonate. They are easy to maintain because acrylic material doesn’t absorb water. Open-water calls are usually acrylic.
"Once ducks are in your line of sight, they are either in the entry zone, the working zone, or the exit zone. Hunters should target ducks in the entry zone, and try to hold the duck’s attention to draw it in."
STAFF
BestReviews

Duck calls by type

  • Open water: This type of duck call is recommended for hunters located in large, open areas with windy conditions. Open-water calls need to achieve a high volume to draw in migrating ducks from across a wide area.

  • Timber: This type of duck call is recommended for hunters located in closed-in, forested areas with calm weather. Timber duck calls are quieter than alternative types of calls.

  • Cut-down: This type of duck call is recommended for hunters who are looking for loud distinctive sounds. The name “cut-down” comes from hunters who historically trimmed reeds to produce greater volume and a wider range of pitches. Cut-down calls are gaining in popularity.

Calling techniques

  • Quack: The “quack” is a short, sharp note. It can be sprinkled throughout your duck-calling repertoire to mimic short bursts of quacking. Hunters should voice the “quack” noise with a hard punctuated “K” into the call.

  • Feed call: The “feed” is a sequence of rapid short notes. The notes vary in pitch and are supposed to mimic the sounds of ducks eating.

  • Comeback or hail call: The “comeback” or “hail” is the loudest and longest of calls. It’s drawn out and amplified in order to attract ducks from far away.

Duck call prices

Inexpensive: Low-end duck calls range in price from $5 to $15. They will most likely be manufactured from polycarbonate, which means they are mass produced. These calls work well for beginners learning basic techniques. More experienced hunters often move up to higher-quality duck calls.

Mid-range: Intermediate-price duck calls range from $20 to $50. They can be wooden or acrylic. These calls will be assembled of multiple pieces, rather than being a single piece of molded plastic. They will be able to produce varying pitches and volumes, depending on the material.

Expensive: High-end duck calls can cost from $50 to $100. These duck calls can be fine-tuned or custom-tuned, and they will most likely be acrylic. The reeds may be hand-trimmed, and the call itself, if well maintained, should last for years.

Tips

  • Practice duck-calling techniques at home before heading out to the hunt. Record yourself, and play it back to improve your technique.

  • Listen to recordings or videos of ducks in their natural habitats to learn the nuances of their sounds.

  • Couple your duck calling with strategically placed duck decoys to increase your chances of attracting ducks.

  • Be careful when blowing into the duck call that you’re not producing a whistling noise. The whistling noise will disrupt your call and make it less effective.

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A common misconception hunters have when using duck calls is that they are trying to call in just one duck. Rather, the duck call should sound like a flock of ducks with varying pitches.

FAQ

Q. Will I ever need to replace the reeds in my duck call?

A. There’s a chance, but it’s unlikely. The reeds will only need to be replaced, or the duck call retired if they begin to delaminate. Replacement reeds can be ordered online through the duck call manufacturer.

Q. What happens if I drop my duck call in the water?
A. Nothing, unless the duck call is made from wood. Polycarbonate and acrylic will simply need to dry out before you use them. Wooden calls will need to be dismantled and dried completely before reassembling. Wood is porous and readily absorbs water, while other materials do not.

Q. Does a higher price equal better quality?

A. Not necessarily. A beginning duck hunter can do just as well with a $10 call or a $50 call. More advanced hunters may chooose a pricier call because of better-quality material or the ability to fine-tune the call to suit specific hunting needs.

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