• Kenneth Kieser: Grain Valley man may be future world champion duck caller

  • Top waterfowl hunting areas develop future duck and goose calling super stars. The Squaw Creek Wildlife Area, close to Mound City, Mo., has long become an annual fall pilgrimage for hunters – some famous, some not.

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  • Top waterfowl hunting areas develop future duck and goose calling super stars. The Squaw Creek Wildlife Area, close to Mound City, Mo., has long become an annual fall pilgrimage for hunters – some famous, some not.
    The best hunters from this group remained unknown to the world while a few gained national prominence like 1982 World Champion Sam Hoepher. I predict the Squaw Creek region will soon claim another star, Dusty Banner, of Grain Valley.
    I have hunted with many of the nation's best callers, including several world champions. Few equaled this young man's talents as proved by his recent wins. Banner took sixth place in the 2010 World Championship of Duck Calling in Stuttgart, Ark., and fourth place in 2011.
    The following is a question and answer session with the young Missouri caller about calling wild ducks.
    How many years did you practice on a duck call?
    Banner: “I have been blowing a duck call 10 years. I have practiced a great deal. Most of my practice is when I am driving, and yes, people occasionally give me funny looks.”
    You took fourth in the world in 2011. What is the difference between the average hunter calling to a flock of mallards and championship calling?
    Banner: “Competition callers put in a great deal more time practicing. Like anything else, you can reach a competitive level by hours of practice. Duck calling and competition calling are different. Competition calling is about performance and pushing that call from one limit to the next. Duck calling is reading the ducks and telling them what they want to hear. Competitive calling is about giving the judges what they want to hear.”
    You have called ducks most of your life and have worked thousands of ducks. Let's talk about the science of duck calling.
    Banner: “Every day is different when duck hunting, but I approach morning, noon and evening differently. I never call loud to ducks early in the morning. Ducks chatter and call all night and are seldom really talkative in the morning. I use light feeder chuckles and a light greeter. This is a good case for a wooden or light acrylic call you can make lower sounds on.
    Ducks change as the day progresses and you may see more big flocks. Hens may start calling to you and it is important to mimic whatever they say to you. When a duck is yelling at you, yell back. If I call someone on the phone and ask them to come over, if they didn't say anything, I wouldn't know if they were coming or not. Ducks are the same way. When they are calling over the water, chances are they will come in if I return the right answer.”
    Page 2 of 3 - “Is there such a thing as calling too loud?
    Banner: “Calling volume depends on where you are hunting. Timber hunting requires less screaming compared to a cornfield or dry field. Windy days require more volume. We constantly fight wind in Northwest Missouri where we hunt. But sometimes on a calm day you might hear someone screaming at the ducks from 200 years away and not adjusting to the conditions. You will shoot more ducks by adjusting calls to the surroundings and weather.”
    But what about pressured ducks?
    Banner: “Stale ducks that have been in your area a long time will not be very vocal. Pay attention to the ducks. Sometimes they want to be talked to all the way to the water. On other days, they may want to hear a light greet call and that's it.”
    What are the tell-tale signs to reading ducks?
    Banner: “You are always looking for their reaction to calling. When their wing beat slows down, or if they start to cup their wings, they may be reacting to the sound you just gave them. Repeat the sound and watch their reaction. You probably said the wrong thing to ducks that pick up speed and quickly disappear over the horizon.”
    Do competition callers make good duck hunters?
    Banner: “I believe that competition callers can call ducks better than most because they understand duck vocabulary. Making the same sounds over and over again is a mistake. There is more than one decoy on the water and not every duck sounds the same. You have to sound like more than one duck and keep changing sounds until you find what works.”
    When is there too much feeder chuckle?
    Banner: “I don't use feeder chuckles unless it is really cold. But when you hunt flooded timber, you can use more feeder sounds because it's not as loud and the ducks are more apt to find your decoys. Remember that sound echoes in timber and lower sounds are important. Feeder chuckles are less important in open areas.”
    What would you say to a beginner who wants to start duck calling?
    Banner: “Many are willing to teach you. You can even call duck call manufacturers and they may have some good advice or introduce you to one of their field pros. Practicing with a commercial CD is the best. Many don't pick up a call until the season opens. Your air will not be built up to keep on ducks you are constantly blowing at. Keep a call in your vehicle and hone your skills. Sitting on a summer lake and imitating ducks in the area is a good way to start too. Nothing imitates a duck better than a duck. Some commercial CDs are live ducks calling, great sounds to practice to. Ducks will teach you more than any human.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Your last comment to duck hunters?
    Banner: “If you are interested in competition calling, just don't give up. Keep entering contests and don't get disappointed if you lose, just keep trying and pay attention to techniques that win. When duck hunting, try new sounds. You can turn a bad day around with a few right moves on a duck call.”
    Banner has taken his duck hunting a step further by manufacturing ducks calls for his company, Pin Oak Calls. He produces the same calls he was using on our hunt. For more information about his call company, check his website at www.pinoakcalls.com or call 816-898-4667.

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