GET THEIR ATTENTION Kevin Popo Hometown: Claymont, Delaware Resume: 2001, 2002 World Goose Calling Champion Favorite late-season call: Sean Mann Sweet Talker For the two-time world champion, hunting call-shy honkers is about grabbing their attention and giving them what they want. "My first call is a loud single note. At a distance, you don't hear a good clear honk; you just hear a rhythm, a sound that gets your attention," says Popo. "That's all I'm trying to do with geese at first--get their attention." Popo uses a loud, open-handed honk to turn geese and then follows it up with more attentive calling, all while looking for signs of interest. "Watch the birds. If you see a foot come down, a wingbeat change or anything, give them more of what you were just doing. If you're selling a thirty-second commercial and they're buying the first seven seconds, give them more of those seven seconds. It's about what they want to hear, not what you want to hear.".

Champion Calling Tips bernie

WORK THE WEATHER Bernie Boyle Hometown: Danville, Iowa Resume: ****2002, 2004 World Duck Calling Champion Favorite late-season call: Bernie Boyle Timber Call When hunting ducks, this two-time champion lets the weather dictate his calling scheme. “If it’s a windy day, you can get away with louder, more aggressive calling. If it’s a calm day, you have to be careful because they’ll be a little spookier and you’ll want to call a lot less,” says Boyle, who relies almost exclusively on three- to six-note hen calls to bring birds in before finishing them with single quacks. Though Boyle prefers wooden calls to acrylic ones, he carries both on his lanyard and once again lets the weather be the deciding factor as to which call to blow. “I use acrylic calls on the windy days, because they tend to be louder calls with a higher-pitched, sharper tone that can pierce the air better. Wooden calls absorb some of that sound and produce a mellower call, which is what you want when it’s calm and you’re working wary birds,” he says.

Champion Calling Tips jim

READ THE FLOCK Jim Ronquest Hometown: Stuttgart, Arkansas Resume: 2006 World Duck Calling Champion Favorite late-season call: Rich-N-Tone Old Style Shortly after the new year, Ronquest begins to watch the behavior patterns of mallards and lets that drive his approach. “Duck physiology changes when you start getting past the second week of January,” he says. “Pair bonds become more important, and it’s almost impossible to call a drake away from a hen. Juvenile ducks, however, will flock up and continue to act like they did earlier in the season.” Tailor your tack for the two distinct groups of birds. “As a general rule, you can be more aggressive with flocks than with pairs,” says Ronquest, director of public relations for Rich-N-Tone Calls. “While you can work a flock like you do at any other time of the year, with a pair you have to back off and converse more with the hen. You have to settle her down and reassure her, because if she doesn’t like something and decides to blow out, the drake is going with her.”

Champion Calling Tips shawn

DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT Shawn Stahl Hometown: ****Allegan, Michigan Resume: 2000 World Goose Calling Champion Favorite late-season call: Rich-N-Tone Dirty Bird Learning to blow a goose call the way callers do at a competition can seem like an difficult task. In the hunting field, however, all that flash isn’t necessary. “You hear all these sounds in a contest, but in hunting you’re mostly making clucks and moans,” says Stahl. “Clucks make up seventy-five percent of the noises you make–you just need to vary the pitch, tone and cadence.” As with setting a spread, it’s important to identify what other hunters are doing and then adjust your tactics accordingly. “There’s no magic to good calling. It’s all about reading and reacting to the birds and the other hunters around you,” says Stahl. “Geese aren’t book-smart, but they are conditioning-smart. The first thing every hunter does when he sees birds is start calling, and geese get used to that. Try letting them pass and then start calling.”

To keep ducks and geese funneling into your spread, heed the advice of these world-champion callers, who dominate both the stage and the hunting fields.