Here a Quack, there a Quack

Well, you learn something new every day. Little did I know that you can collect duck calls. Let me backtrack for a moment. I love to visit museums of all types and when it gets down to statistics, there are thousands. You never run out of things to look at wherever you are. It doesn’t matter if it is the traditional art museum (of local or national repute), an automobile sanctuary, an ethnic cultural entity (showing Native American or Polynesian artifacts), or the history of the sewing machine. I find it all fabulously interesting.

So duck calls. You can actually collect them. I found a rather good collection at the Flyaways Waterfowl Museum in Wisconsin when I was in the area visiting relatives. It was a happy accident to stumble on this repository of wildlife. The museum features North American migratory fowl. Most people know them as ducks, geese and swans, but there are others, each with a story to tell. Reading the blurbs makes everything come alive. You follow the fowl’s paths through rivers and streams, from lakes to wetlands. You learn a lot about geography along the way.

Kids love this kind of stuff, especially if you explain wildlife habitats and the environment and how to sustain them. The museum teaches good values and the exhibits are really top drawer. Viewers can even climb into an actual duck blind and imagine the real experience. Who knew there were 60 varieties of waterfowl? There are probably as many calls you can create. Speaking of calls, this is where I chose to focus. I used to think a quack was just a quack. Not so. Hunters use these calls, maybe two or three, when out scouting. As a collection, they are awesome. I could listen for hours.

Learning something intimate about nature is a special experience and the duck calls were no exception. Just the fact that the waterfowl respond to them is amazing. Hunters are in effect luring wildlife into their target range. While they can be digital and electronic, the real ones are like instruments. They are double-reed devices with great volume. It is all about pitch I believe. The high end sounds reach out to long-range flyers with ease. What makes these so collectible is the wonderful artistic appearance. Materials are more luxurious than you can imagine. You don’t just find the usual plastic.

You can get hand-painted duck calls, carved duck calls, and hand-tuned duck calls. You can really get into this subculture. They come in all sorts of wonderful colors and textures like dark green and pearl white, deep blue and white swirl, orange and black, camo and ivory, purple and blue, red and black. You could collect antique duck calls or go modern. It would be fun to scout hunting fairs and expos to see what you can find. Just take the wood duck call as one example. This kind of duck is easy to fool. With the right call, however, you can lure these colorful creatures to your favorite pond.