Speaking and Duck Calling

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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Speaking and Duck Calling

by Jim James - Owner of Carlson Championship Calls and 1996 World Duck Calling Champion

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Over the years it seems instruction on how to operate a duck call has been a monumental task. In its simplest form it can be reduced to the “make ‘er sound like this” approach, and in a more complex form it can be taught as the science it really is. The first approach relies on an abundance of talent while the second puts a premium on intelligence.

While it’s safe to say that all waterfowl hunters can speak, it’s not so safe to make the same statement regarding calling. If, perhaps, the waterfowl hunter looking to improve his calling could somehow relate calling and speaking, he may very well be able to progress in this much envied aspect of the sort. The two have far more in common than most realize.

We are not born able to speak and it’s safe to say it takes years to fully develop the skills necessary to fluently speak our native language. That being the case, why should we expect to develop our calling skills overnight? Let’s take a look at what the two forms of communication have in common and how by better understanding the mechanics involved in both we may become better callers.

The same four elements of the speech mechanism are what allows us to both speak and operate a duck call. Those four elements are: Forward Pressure, Back Pressure, Mouth Cavity Size and Larynx. Let’s look at each and how they apply to both speech and call operation.

In speech we must bring air up from our lungs in order for anything at all to happen. Without it there are no spoken words. In proper call operation Forward Pressure is defined as the controlled expelling of air from the lungs by use of the stable stomach muscles and diaphragm. In calling, just as in speech, the simple act of expelling air is not enough to create the desired results, be that the spoken word or a simple quack. Much more is involved.

In speech we provide necessary Back Pressure by using our lips. We could not say the words “back” or “pressure” if we didn’t apply the necessary Back Pressure with our lips. It’s a way of refining the overall pressure created by the Forward Pressure. In proper call operation the lips become immobilized when we put the call to our mouth. Thus, we define Back Pressure as the proper placement of the fingers and hand in front of the exhaust bore of the insert.

In speech our tongue is in constant motion. It is locating and configuring while moving forwards and backwards, all in order to allow us to enunciate words. In proper call operation our tongue should also be in constant motion as it locates and configures to form the proper Mouth Cavity Size required for the various affects we’re trying to create.

In speech our Larynx can be active, as when we speak, or passive, as when we whisper. Likewise, in proper call operation our Larynx can be active or passive. It can also be used at various pitches and duration to, once again, achieve various and desired results.
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