John's Journal...

Tips for Taking More Late-Season Ducks

Rod Haydel – When You Have Nothing to Lose

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: On some days and at certain times, ducks just won’t work for your calls and don’t always fly. However, on the days that the ducks do fly, they may work to the decoys, put their feet out and their wings up to light but then not come all the way to the decoys. Try these tactics I’ve learned from some of the nation’s best waterfowl guides and callers.

I’m not sure that if you spread Rod Haydel’s toes you won’t find webs between them. His father Eli Haydel of Bossier City, Louisiana, a world-class duck caller and founder of Haydel Game Calls, had Rod, who eats lives and breathes calling ducks, practicing this sport before he could walk. Rod Haydel has to deal with the baddest of all the ducks because he lives on the tail end of the flyway. Click to enlarge

By the time ducks reach the area where Rod Haydel lives, everyone in the world has called to them, decoyed them, shot at them and perhaps even thrown rocks at them. Haydel has really-tough ducks to try and call. “When the ducks won’t come to calling at all, I usually rely on my comeback call first and exaggerate my notes by pleading into my call,” Haydel says. “When I say pleading, I mean I hold the first note a little longer than I normally will so that the call sounds like, ‘pleeeeeeeeeeeeasee come back, come back, come back.’ That usually works pretty well. Of course on some days, ducks simply resist coming into a call. That’s when I believe in experimenting. You have nothing else to lose when you know that the ducks aren’t going to come to your calling. So anything you try won’t make them go away from you any faster.”Click to enlarge

When Haydel and his friends and family hunt ducks, they usually only have one person calling. However, when ducks swing from the decoys and start going away and not coming back, Haydel and his hunters will, “Throw the kitchen sink at them. I’ll ask everyone in the duck blind to start calling to the ducks. If two or three flights of ducks have come by our decoys and refused to come in, then on the next flight when the ducks start going out away from our decoys, I’ll ask everyone in the blind to start calling. Many times hearing so many ducks calling at one time will excite the flight and often turn them back to you. Even if the ducks don’t come back, everyone’s gotten to blow his duck calls and have a good time. And you really haven’t lost anything because those ducks aren’t probably going to come in anyway. So don’t be afraid to have multiple callers all calling at the same time when the ducks aren’t working.”Click to enlarge

Haydel explains that often he’s had a pair of ducks or a single duck that won’t come into the decoys but will swing past his decoy set two or three times. Then he uses what he calls a delayed comeback call. “When the ducks start going out, instead of giving my comeback call where I think I should, I wait until the duck is about 200-yards out, and then give him a comeback call really hard and loud,” Haydel advises. “I think the duck you’ve lost may believe that you’re calling other ducks that are coming into your decoys. So he may turn, look back and swing back. However, when that duck is almost at the edge of hearing, and you start giving that comeback call, many times he’ll turn and come back to you. You probably will have lost this duck otherwise. The real secret to this tactic’s success is that once the ducks turn and start to leave, don’t give the comeback call. Be sure to wait until they’re 200-yards out, and then hit them hard and heavy with the comeback call. No type of calling works all the time, but this delayed-comeback call has worked for me when nothing else has. I think the real secret here is to remember that when all else fails, you have nothing to lose by using off-the-wall tactics that normally you won’t use. You may find by experimenting that you can pull some ducks in that you never will have been able to bring within gun range with traditional tactics.”

Tomorrow: How Christian Curtis Works the Ducks

Check back each day this week for more about "Tips for Taking More Late-Season Ducks"

Day 1: Talk Like a Duck and Think Like a Webfoot
Day 2: Camouflage and Decoys
Day 3: Tips from Barnie Calef and Chad Belding
Day 4: Rod Haydel – When You Have Nothing to Lose
Day 5: How Christian Curtis Works the Ducks


Entry 490, Day 4