My name is Lawrence and I am a competitive duck caller (the first step is admitting it). Competitive calling is something I discovered way too late in my hunting career. I say “too late” because I have had so much fun doing it, and I have met so many great people I only wish I had started earlier. I started contest calling in 2005. I qualified for Arkansas for the first time in 2007 and haven’t looked back ever since. Through contest calling I have been able to meet some of my best friends and been afforded some amazing hunting opportunities.
I am not writing this to talk about me. I am writing his to talk about YOU. I am writing to address the folks who genuinely take pride in their calling ability and want to get better and I am writing this to address the waterfowlers and aspiring contest callers who have no clue where to begin but want to learn how to operate their calls effectively. This is about finding your way into competitive duck calling. There are contests for every age group, every skill set and pretty much every species of ducks and geese. There are also plenty of women involved and there is a dedicated Womens World Championship as well. So here are 5 quick steps to getting involved.
Step #1 Forget what you think about your own skill set.
Forget what you think your skill level is. If you want to get involved then get involved. No world champion caller was born with a duck call in their hand. They all had to start somewhere and I would be willing to bet that the majority of world champions have probably lost more contests than they have won. So ditch the loosing attitude, decide that you want to be a better caller and start. You can’t win if you don’t compete so commit!
Step#2 Learn the Ropes
Find a “mentor” and commit to learning. If you don’t know anyone that competes, then get on the internet and check the forums, check Facebook, or at the very least do your research and watch you tube. I believe it is extremely helpful to find someone who can help walk you through the process of putting together a routine and explain the ins and outs of the rules. All I ask is that you please be careful on the internet , there about 1.2 million folks who claim to be the single best duck caller that ever walked the earth, and there are just as many that will tell you you’re doing it wrong no matter what.
I remember my first contest. No one told me you weren’t allowed to talk on stage so when the M.C asked me if I wanted a warm up I smiled and said …”yes sir”, and that was the end of my first contest. Talk about eye-opening, but I was determined at that point to stick with it.
Step #3 Find a contest and GO!
Now depending on where you are there may not be that many contest around but if there are any within distance then you need to go. Most people who are new to this have no clue what a contest is like and trust me, if you really have no clue then go check one out. Meet some people, find someone who can help you, or get a wild hair and enter it. Until you decide to go you will be in the dark. Now you may be asking………How do I find duck calling contests? Well that’s easy below are several links that will steer you in the right direction.
Step #4 Leave your Feelings in the Truck
Loose the ego and ditch the pride. There are a lot of really good callers out there that love helping people get involved but really don’t want to hear about how great you are back home in your local marsh or how many beaks you’re smashing in January. It’s not like contest calling is a full-time gig where you can pay the bills and drive a $70K truck on it. It’s something folks do in the off-season to keep in touch with their buddies, keep their skills sharp, and yes on occasion put some money in their pockets. So take it seriously have fun and don’t waste their time. Listen and learn, and be prepared for brutal honesty.
If you do well in your first contest be humble and show gratitude. If you don’t do well, shake it off and get over it. A very accomplished caller told me once to look at the plaques on his wall. He said “there are a lot of first place finishes up there that I deserved and there are some that I didn’t deserve , and there are a lot of second place trophies up there that are the same way, but it’s all part of the game” . Just like any sport no one can control the outcome, and once it’s over there is no going back so don’t be a keyboard warrior the next day and bash the contest, or the judges. The people who hosted the contest did it for free, and the judges did it for free. So just be grateful, and humble.
Step #5 DO IT!!!!!!
Pull the trigger. Just do it. Don’t keep telling yourself you’re not ready or you never will be. Expect highs and lows, but practice, enter, compete and do it again. They only way to get better is to do it. Don’t hide behind a keyboard, don’t hide behind an excuse, just go do it. I have seen grown men that have been doing this for 30 plus year still active today and I have seen kids so young that they couldn’t even see over the blind that you call behind. Its duck calling, and if you embrace it, you’ll have a ton of fun, meet a ton of new people, and become a much better duck caller. Like I said in the beginning, there is no one that has been doing this for any length of time that wins every contest they compete in.
Contest calling has made me a much better duck caller than I was when I started. I learn and improve every year. I have made friends all over the country and have had some of the best times of my life at calling contests. I have had some great days on stage and I have had some horrible days on stage, but you don’t get better if you don’t do it.
As we enter into contest season I will be trying to post up contest announcements as I hear about them and results when I can get them. If you liked this article and want to know more shoot us an email or subscribe to our blog.
Some Additional Resources