Speaking and Duck Calling - Page 2

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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When young we learn to speak by first learning to imitate the words spoken to us by our parents. Some obviously pick it up much faster than others. For some speaking comes much slower and harder. I would imagine the factor we call talent has much to do with the differing learning curves. Regardless of the talent level, we first learn to speak words, we learn the alphabet, we learn vowels and constanets, and eventually progress to putting words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs, all in an attempt to intelligibly express our thoughts. I think by approaching call operation the same way we can avoid the pitfall so common to both forms of communication, that being the introduction and ingraining of bad habits.

When speaking we are interfacing all four of the four elements of the speech mechanism and when properly operating a duck call we must also interface these same four elements. It’s by learning how each of the four elements contributes to the overall composite sound output of the call that we can meaningfully progress.

Forward Pressure and Back Pressure contribute to the overall Chamber Pressure that’s required for whatever effect we are trying to create with the call. The location and configuration of the tongue is what determines the Mouth Cavity Size which relates directly to the overall Chamber Dimension. Chamber Pressure and Chamber Dimension are the two common denominators of call operation. The addition of the Larynx to the air stream being created by the caller contributes additional information which, once again, contributes to the overall composite sound output.

Forward Pressure is usually the easiest of the four to understand as most can relate to the controlled expelling of the air from the lungs. Back Pressure on the other hand seems a mystery to many. Every call has a certain amount of Back Pressure built into it by the overall design of the call. It’s the skilled operator who will understand the use of his fingers and hand in front of the exhaust bore of the insert as an exacting control device to further refine the amount of Chamber Pressure. Aimlessly flapping the hand in front of the call provides little if any refinement of Chamber Pressure and usually results in inconsistency and mistakes.

The tongue and its location and configuration in the mouth is the biggest stumbling block for most students. As previously mentioned, when we speak our tongue is in constant motion. It needs to be configured and located in certain positions in order to support the results one is striving to achieve with, in our case, the English language. Trying to get the calling student to realize that his tongue needs to configure and locate in certain positions to achieve certain results is, at times, difficult. The simple notion that the tongue can move forwards and backwards when calling seems foreign to some. Many are used to simply tooting on the call with the tongue in a fixed position, usually up against the back of the upper front teeth. This position may be supportive of some of the softer sounds used while working close-in ducks but will result in major problems when one tries to create louder sounds such as the High Ball and Comeback calls or even louder Hen Greetings. The relationship between Mouth Cavity Size, as determined by tongue location and configuration, and Chamber Pressure, as determined by a combination of Forward Pressure and Back Pressure, is indeed real. By understanding and learning these important relationships the calling student will much more quickly get a grasp on what’s required of each.

The last of the Four Elements of the Speech Mechanism to consider is the Larynx. Again, over the years the contribution the larynx plays in call operation has been somewhat misunderstood. Calls that lack certain design characteristics needed to produce the raspy sound desired and understood as “ducky” require the student to exaggerate or overuse the larynx. In these cases the larynx is sustained throughout the entire duration of each and every note. Over the years the term “grunt” has come to symbolize this style of calling. Many students pick this habit up and carry it over to more functional single reed calls and the resulting sound becomes far less than desired. Breaking the habit of sustaining the larynx is one of the tougher bad habits to overcome.

A functional call that has all the necessary design components required to produce a wide range of sounds can be operated with little or no addition of the larynx function. To understand that the larynx can be used and at varying pitches and duration goes along ways towards understanding the contribution the larynx can impart to the composite sound output of the call. Learning to turn on and off the larynx while practicing will demonstrate these various effects. With most calling there need only be a short initial burst of the larynx , usually at the caller’s normal voice pitch, at the beginning of the note. The effect this short burst creates will carry on through the entire note. Obviously, by varying the pitch of this short burst different effects can be created.

Everyone’s speaking vocabulary began small and grew with education, experience and age. There’s no reason one’s calling vocabulary can’t likewise expand. All it really takes is a better understanding of what’s involved. Understanding the common similarities between speaking and calling is one way of progressing and expanding your “duck vocabulary”.

For information on calls and instructional materials please contact:
Carlson Championship Calls
3056 S. 43rd Street
Omaha, NE 68105
(402) 554-8411
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