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If there is no “magic flute” then how and where does a guy turn when seeking to improve the calling aspect of the sport? A very good question!

A serious student needs three things if he really wants to progress to becoming a top-notch call operator. 1. He needs a functional and properly designed call. A call that will produce the many and varied sounds savvy waterfowlers have come to expect and demand. A call that has the needed stability and consistency that will allow him to reproduce the same sounds every time, given the same Chamber Pressure and Chamber Dimension. 2. He needs meaningful, proven and make-sense instruction. No student will ever be better than his instrument AND instruction will allow. And, the instruction must interface with the call’s design. 3. He needs to make the mental commitment to want to learn, and to do so with the understanding that he may have to “forget” all that he’s learned to date. In other words, break old habits! He needs to study, learn and then implement the instruction being taught.

Let’s examine the third requirement first, for without it the others have little meaning. Commitment to learn any subject will take the student a long way towards reaching the stated goal. Make no mistake about it, learning new calling habits is not easy! Unfortunately, the longer a student has been “blowing” a call the more habits he’s unconsciously ingrained. It’s not enough to simply say, “Okay, today I’m going to learn new habits”. Just as it would not be enough for the Scotsman to say he’ll no longer speak with that very identifiable Scottish accent.

It takes a great deal of honest and sincere commitment to approach the subject of calling and call operation with the same mindset as any student trying to learn any new subject. That’s precisely why young kids generally pick up meaningful instruction quicker than their older counterparts. Over the years I’ve formally taught call operation. I’ve seen many instances where young kids rapidly outpace their fathers as they both study and try to implement the same material. The youngsters are used to learning new subjects and their minds are open to receiving instruction because of their day-to-day exposure to the “teach and learn” cycle of schooling. Just as important, is their lack of bad calling habits from years of “blowing” on junk calls. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of their fathers!

Let’s now examine the second component we identified above: Meaningful Instruction. For well over 100 years the “norm” has been the “do like I do” or “make ‘er sound like this” method of instruction when it came to teaching one to operate a duck call. For this approach to be successful the student must have three very important things. 1. He must have an instrument that is capable of duplicating the sounds he hears. 2. He must be around some really good calling to try to duplicate. 3. He must have the natural talent to be able to mimic or duplicate the sounds he hears. I think most would agree that the chances of having all three of these necessary components are very slim.

Very few duck hunters are born with a wealth of musical talent. The number of really top-notch callers that are around is also few (just listen on any public marsh on opening day to further reinforce this fact). And, the chances of having a call that is capable of duplicating the sounds one hears is equally doubtful. This is often true even if he has the same brand of call as the so-called teacher.
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