John's Journal...

Calling All Ducks by John E. Phillips with Eli Haydel

Day 4: Calling Teal and Gadwalls 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.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewHaydel considers teal one of the most-difficult types of ducks to read. A squadron of teal can zoom past in formation and still return and light in the decoys, even though they've given no appearance of wanting to work to the decoys or the calls. "Teal are nonchalant ducks," Haydel comments. "These ducks will fly past your decoys, look them over and give no indication of whether or not they'll light-down in the decoys. But sometimes they'll fly around the region, look at two or three more potholes, fly right back and drop into your spread. Often when you're calling teal, they'll sit down outside your decoys far enough away from the blind, so you can't shoot them. When I see teal coming toward the decoys, I'll start calling and make my calls sound as though several teal in the decoys are calling the ducks that are flying. By using those types of calls, often I can pull a flight of teal that have intended to sit down outside the decoys into my spread and in front of my blind."

According to Haydel, sometimes the height at which teal fly will give some indication as to whether or not the ducks will work. "Generally, if the teal are flying low to the water, they can be worked into the decoys," Haydel says. "If they are flying high in the sky, they'll be harder to work to the decoys with a call. Teal are such small, fast birds that many times they'll fly so low to the water and so fast they'll light in the decoys without the hunters ever seeing them."

Calling Gadwalls:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewGadwalls, also called gray ducks, get wise late in the year, but early in the season they're fairly easy to call. "Even the most-inexperienced caller can do well with gadwalls," Haydel mentions. "Their call is like someone drinking too much cherry bounce in the blind, rather than the smooth descending chromatic scale of a mallard. Often, though, the gadwall doesn't trust anybody. This duck doesn't even seem to trust the ducks in its flight. I've seen gadwalls light on the water 300-yards apart. But when the gadwalls are flying in tight bunches, apparently they're in the mood to be more social, which often means they'll come into your decoys and respond to your calling. But remember, when I'm reading ducks, at best I'm only 75 percent correct on what a duck will and won't do. Ducks are still wild critters that survive by doing what they're supposed to do only some of the time they're supposed to do it."

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: How to Hunt Diving Ducks, Hypnotized Ducks and Non-Workable Ducks 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 4