Volume.... Too Much? Not Enough? Where & When?

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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Volume.... Too Much? Not Enough? Where & When?

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

Volume has always been a very important element of calling waterfowl. In its simplest form it can be said, "Too loud and you’ll blow ‘em away...too soft and they can’t hear you." In reality it’s a bit more complex.

First off, one should be aware of the acoustical environment in which he’ll be hunting and calling. A timber pothole surrounded by hardwood trees, combined with the hard surface of the usually still water will generally dictate a softer volume call in an effort to prevent echoing. In this situation, because of the surrounding timber and lack of a clear field of view, very little if any "high balling" of the ducks occur. Usually, the ducks are fairly close when first seen and consequently softer sounds are used to greet and work them on into the hole.

An open water set-up would fall at the opposite end of the acoustical spectrum. Here one finds himself hunting wide-open expanses of water with virtually unlimited visibility. Factor in the affects of wind and inclement weather and at times it seems you can’t have a loud enough call. In this environment the ducks can be seen when they’re just specks in the sky and loud, shingle-rattling ringing highballs are the norm. Usually, the entire vocabulary of the waterfowl hunter will likewise be louder as he greets, quacks and chuckles as the ducks swing and work the spread.

The time of the year and the amount of foliage on the trees and brush also come into play. Early in the year the sound of the call can be absorbed by lush vegetation whereas later in the year, when the leaves have fallen, the acoustical environment becomes harsher and can be drastically different.

Obviously, there are countless other acoustical environments that would fall between the two just mentioned. Being aware of the area you hunt, the wind, weather and even the time of the year will help you better select the proper volume of call and calling with which to start.

The overall volume of any call is generally dictated by its design. A callmaker may make a range of different volumes in his line of calls, at times making it difficult for the waterfowl hunter to decide which call may be right for him. Keeping in mind one’s acoustical environment can help. Also, keep in mind that the top-end volume of a call is relatively fixed by design. Having said that it should be noted that it could be somewhat variable due to refined operational abilities on the part of the caller as well as physical characteristics such as the overall size of the caller’s head and mouth. This relates to the overall size of the resonate cavity consisting of the fixed internal size of the call’s barrel and the variable size of the Mouth Cavity as produced by the caller. If the call’s design is somewhat efficient in terms of PSI in for dB out one’s lungs and lung capacity have very little to due with maximizing the volume of a call.

It goes without saying that one must first have a versatile and functional call if he is to maximize its potential in terms of creating both loud and soft sounds. While functional loud volume calls can be made to produce very soft sounds by a skilled and versatile operator the same cannot be said about making soft volume calls produce more volume.

Many of the calls being sold today seem to be designed with high volume in mind. The old adage of, "If a little is good, more must be better", seems to be the circling cry of callers and callmakers alike. What the callmakers are not taking into consideration is that the majority of waterfowlers would recognize that as the alarm call of the hen mallard. There’s no quicker way to run off ducks.

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