Top Five Duck Calls

Trying to select a new duck call can be an overwhelming experience, causing you to slowly go cross-eyed as you thumb through page after page of a sporting-goods catalog and read umpteen product descriptions that all sound the same. Luckily, you don’t have to weed through the merits of dozens of calls. I’ve narrowed it down to five that have served me well over the years. Each has something different to offer and deserves a look.

Duck Commander Duck Picker

This easy-blowing double-reed has hung around my neck for many years. It's a great call for novices and has a very small learning curve. Some calls require many hours to master, but not the Duck Picker. It has a true ducky sound and is incredibly versatile. ($35; ­duck​­commander.com)

Haydel’s Dirty Rice

This double-reed call is extremely easy to blow and has a nice smooth sound. What I like the most about the Dirty Rice, though, is the squeal it can produce at the end of a note that mimics a hen mallard with food caught in her throat. This is my go-to call when I'm lying in a cornfield trying to persuade a flock to make one last pass. ($25; haydels.com)

GK Calls Call Girl

I picked up this call last year at a waterfowl festival in my home state of Michigan. I chose a cocobolo version (which can be custom-ordered), but it's primarily available in acrylic. Again, this call is very easy to blow, yet it has a true sound and really nails the raspy hen that many of us look for in a call. ($115; gkcalls.com)

Zink PH-2 (polycarbonate)

The PH-2 is a very versatile double-­reed duck call. Its wide-open barrel allows it to be blown loudly for big-water or windy-day birds, yet it can be blown very softly and toned down for finishing notes when the birds get within range. ($25; zinkcalls.com)

Echo Diamondwood Timber Duck Call

This excellent double-reed call has all the volume and raspiness of a single. What I love most about it is the control I have on the chuckle, and the ease with which I can get back up on the comeback and high-ball notes without going over the edge. ($55; echocalls.com)