Knock Off the Rust: start the season in midseason form
The summer months can be long and hot. Working, fishing, floating, and camping are the joys of summer. Duck hunting is probably not at the forefront of our minds in July and August. All the sudden October arrives and we are left scrambling to get gear ready to go. Checking decoys, getting boats ready to run and cleaning guns signal the kick off to season. Opening morning arrives and the first mallards of the season fly overhead and you put air to your call and a flat series of quacks come out. You realize you haven't touched your calls since January let alone tuned them.
Calls are a musical instrument and like every musician, you should tune them before going out for your performance. A simple bit of attention and care can be the difference between a committed bird or seeing tail feathers as they fly away. Calls take abuse every hunt no matter how careful you are. Coffee, sugar, or even dip spit can line a call and cause all sorts of issues if left dirty. A simple rinse with tap water can keep you from sticking and locking up. One of the easiest and most effective ways to help a call is to replace your cork. Cork dries and hardens and can make a call go flat relatively quick. Most call makers can provide you with replacement reeds as well if your reeds are delaminating or showing signs of wear. If you don't feel comfortable tuning your call contact the maker and most will tune them up and have you ready to go.
Now that your instrument is in tune and in pitch, you might consider practicing. It amazes me the amount of callers who don't progress their calling season after season. You ask how much they worked on calling and they have not touched them. Does every hunter need to blow a mainstreet routine in preparation for Stuttgart? No, but practicing some hunting cadences and refining how you present air to a call can turn a mediocre caller into a confident hunter. Pick up your calls, practice, have friends listen to you and give opinions and advice. Countless youtube videos are out there that can greatly help advance your calling. Practice, Practice, Practice.
photo credit: field proven call-fieldprovencalls.com