John's Journal...

Calling All Ducks by John E. Phillips with Eli Haydel

Day 3: Making Mallard Duck Music and Pintail Playing with Eli Haydel

Editor’s Note: While chasing webfoots though the marshes and wetlands of southwest Louisiana for the last 50+ years, Eli Haydel, the founder of Haydel Game Calls and one of the nation’s leading duck callers, has learned how to read ducks as well as a postal worker reads dogs and knows which will bite.

Cick for Larger ViewClick for Larger View"Often, my son, Rod, and I have watched a lone mallard hen sitting on a pothole as a flight of ducks has come close to where she's sitting on the water," Eli Haydel recalls. "While we've looked, the hen never calls until after the flight of ducks has passed her by. Then she'll call only once or twice to attempt to get the flock to come back and light-on the water with her. Therefore, when we see a loose flight of ducks with an erratic wingbeat, we don't try to call to that flock until they've already passed our decoy spread. If a single mallard hen is flying over the spread, she'll often quack loudly and answer a call. Most hunters think that because this duck is answering the call so readily, they'll be able to work her to within gun range. However, more than likely, she won’t come into the spread, but instead is trying to pull the decoys, which she assumes are live ducks, into the air to fly off with her."

When a hunter attempts to call pintails into decoys, he or she can break Haydel's rule of not calling to approaching ducks and still have success. "Because the pintail is such a wary duck, I start blowing the pintail whistle even as the birds approach the decoys to attempt to calm them down and assure them that the decoys are in fact live ducks," Haydel explains. "I continue to blow the whistle until the pintails cup their wings and come in to light. Pintails usually will circle decoys and carefully look them over more times than a mallard will."

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewIf pintails won't come into the decoys after hearing the coaxing of the pintail whistle but instead turn to fly off, Haydel changes calls and gives the comeback call of the mallard hen. "Although the pintail drake makes a whistling sound, the hen quacks like a mallard hen but gives a deeper call," Haydel advises. "If a flight of pintails is leaving the decoys, by quacking like a mallard hen with a series of five pleading, fast quacks, I get the pintails' attention. Then I put-down the mallard call and once again resume using the pintail whistle."

AmazonTo get John E. and Denise Phillips’ Kindle eBook, “The Best Wild Game & Seafood Cookbook Ever: 350 Southern Recipes for Deer, Turkey, Fish, Seafood Small Game and Birds,” click here. Or, go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.


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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Calling Teal and Gadwalls with Eli Haydel

Check back each day this week for more about Calling All Ducks by John E. Phillips with Eli Haydel"

Day 1: Knowing How to Make the Ducks Sit Down Right in Front of You with Eli Haydel
Day 2: Learn the Rules to Begin Calling Ducks with Eli Haydel
Day 3: Making Mallard Duck Music and Pintail Playing with Eli Haydel
Day 4: Calling Teal and Gadwalls with Eli Haydel
Day 5: How to Hunt Diving Ducks, Hypnotized Ducks and Non-Workable Ducks with Eli Haydel

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Entry 746, Day 3