The first thing that comes to my mind when anyone mentions calling wildlife is sitting in the marshes of southeast Texas about daylight, wet down to my skin, and watching a flight of ducks being called in to a raft of decoys by a friend of mine of many years, and the way he could call ducks was a sight to behold. At that time and place duck hunting was the number one hunting endeavor in my life. You may have noticed I specified “hunting” because probably the No. 1 endeavor in my life at that time was a tossup between girls, cars, and girls, but next in line was duck hunting.
There are also highly competitive events surrounding duck calling. Most are air operated calls that the caller blows in to, but don’t let anyone tell you it is easy. As I previously mentioned, duck calling is a popular activity in the duck hunting community. The purpose is to lure the ducks within shooting range and a good duck caller can call those feathered rockets right in on top of a hunter. To be a good caller, it is necessary to know what the different sounds a duck makes and why they make them. There is a basic call, a greeting call, and a feed call, just to mention a few, and they all have a message. The feed call for example tells the ducks flying over that food is at hand and available. If calling is not accomplished exactly right the ducks will be driven away instead of seduced into drawing closer.
When calling wildlife is given a little more thought, turkey calling may come to mind and there are numerous types of calls for calling turkeys. Very few of us really give a lot of thought to wildlife calling and how much fun it can be. Let’s take a look at luring wildlife close to us and why.
Another area where calls are employed is in deer hunting. It is not necessary for a call to be air driven by blowing into it, it can take another form. One such would be the art of striking antlers together to simulate two male deer in combat over a doe during the rut. At the right time of the year this is a very good method of attracting a buck that is in search of a doe with which to mate. He can be deceived into thinking there is a battle going on for a doe and maybe he can take the spoils while the others bucks are busy fighting.
Predators can also be attracted by calls. A good call for that general category of animals is the time tried and proven rabbit call. It sounds like a mortally wounded rabbit, which is at the top of the food list for many predators, four legged as well as feathered. This can draw to the caller coyotes, fox, bob cats and any other animal that feeds on rabbits as well as birds such as hawks.
One more animal that will respond to a call is a squirrel. There are a number of different calls available to attract squirrels. Some you blow through, some you shake and the motion drives air past the reed that makes the noise, and I have one that you tap on the end and it makes a barking noise like a squirrel.
My uncle Bobby was one of the best I have ever seen and he did not use any artificial calls. He could make a barking sound that I have seen bring a squirrel to within 30 feet of him. At the time he put on that demonstration for me he told me not to move a hair and he would see how close he could get the squirrel to come to us. Well that was one confused squirrel. He was right there on the end of a limb looking right at us but was looking for a squirrel and could not find it. Bobby would bark and the squirrel would bark. Finally Bobby stood up and you should have seen the surprise on that squirrels face. For what must have been a full five seconds that squirrel just stood there looking, then realizing he had been duped he took off like a gray missile.
Besides hunting there are many folks who have taken to calling wildlife. They might not realize they are calling them, but every time my wife puts bird food into the bird feeder she is calling up the birds. They are called to food so she can watch them and see all of the different species we have and she just plain likes birds. We have also noticed that at the same time they are being called for her viewing pleasure the neighborhood cats were being drawn like a magnet. I had to persuade a couple of them with a low power air rifle that when they came after my wife’s birds, it hurt.
So many folks call wildlife for different reasons, but if you want an experience walk out in the woods with a rabbit call or a squirrel call, locate a comfortable blind and start to calling. you will be amazed at what you see.