duck calling
A hunter watches a flock approach.. Chip Laughton/Windigo

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DO buy from a reputable call maker, one who stands behind every call he sends out, especially if you’re new to the art. Your best bet is to shop at a hands-on venue so you can play a call and ask questions before opening your wallet. Get the best you can afford. Don’t expect Mozart out of an $8 duck call.

DON’T immediately take the call apart when you get home. Resist the urge. Here’s why: If you do take it apart, something will change, you’ll be dissatisfied, and you’ll blame it on the call and/or its maker. Hands off.

DO clean the call if it’s been on the lanyard awhile, but only if you’re familiar with its construction. Dust, dirt, and other debris can get into a call over the years, even if you don’t use it very often. Separate the insert with the reeds from the barrel, and give it a thorough cleaning with cold water only. Polish up the outside. A good call should look good.

DON’T run hot water on a Mylar duck-call reed thinking it’s going to get the reed spotlessly clean. It might, but it can also warp or otherwise disfigure the Mylar.

DO practice with the call. There are plenty of great makers who post links to YouTube videos detailing the proper way to play their products. You can learn a lot from these sessions, and even experienced duck callers can learn something new.