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Duck Calling Techniques

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

So we have talked about what to look for in a duck call, now it's time to figure out how to make this thing work!  Follow along for the very basic techniques that you need in order to be a better caller and in turn increase your chances of bringing the ducks into shooting range.

The very first thing I like to tell people that are wanting to learn how to blow a call is you need to understand how to hold your hands.  I put the middle of the call where the barrel and insert meet right in the "Y" of my pointer finger and thumb and then wrap those 2 fingers around the call.  I can then use my other 3 fingers and my other hand and fingers to control the back pressure that is needed when calling.  Back pressure can actually change the depth of the sound.

The next thing to understand is that you NEVER, EVER, EVER use the air in your cheeks to blow the call.  The air should come from deep down in your diaphragm.  If your cheeks are poking out like a blow fish when you are blowing a call then you are doing it WRONG!  Learn how to control the volume of air coming from your diaphragm and you can control how loud or soft the tone you produce is.  This is critical when you are trying to get birds to finish.

The last thing you need to know is sometimes it is better to just PUT THE CALLS DOWN!  Sometimes calling can actually deter ducks from committing.  This normally happens later in the season especially in heavily hunted areas.

4 calls you absolutely must know are the hail call, the feed call, a basic quack, and a whistle.  The whistle is something every duck hunter should carry in his bag.  I personally believe that a whistle can be more effective than a duck call in quite a few situations.  Some people say "tick" others say "cat".  I personally like "tank" when I am calling.
  1. Hail Call -  The hail call is something that should be used VERY sparingly.  The only time I will use a hail call is to initially get the attention of some birds that are passing in the distance.  My rule of thumb is if the birds look like they don't want anything to do with you then a hail call could work.  Do not use the hail call if the birds are within 1-200 yards or coming straight at you.  The call should be loud and long and then taper off in length and volume.  Example: taaaaaaaaaaaank, taaaaaaaank, taaaank, taaank, taank, tank, tank, tank.  I will do this once or twice and if the birds don't turn then I am wasting my time and chalk it up to the birds being on a mission that doesn't involve being shot by my Beretta A400 Xtreme.
  2. Feed Call - I use this quite a bit.  When birds are working I will use a combination of feed calls and quacks.  I use "taka, taka, taka" when I am running a feed call. I will increase and decrease the volume of air I put out as well as the back pressure I control with my hands. Example: takatakatakatakatakaTAKATAKATAKATAKATAKAtakatakataka.
  3. Basic Quack - These are just basic "tank..........tank....tank tank....tank" and used when birds seem to be committed.  If the birds are very committed I will do an occasional quack that is very faint just to keep them confident in the spread.  Again, using the basic quack in conjunction with the feed call can be hypnotic and deadly to unsuspecting birds.
  4. Whistle - A whistle can really seal the deal when you have birds working.  Mallards, pintail, teal, widgeon, and wood ducks can all be replicated with a simple duck whistle.  A good caller can even get a gadwall sound with a whistle.  Gadwall are very nasally though and this should be one of the advanced calls you should master after you have all the basics down.  When it comes to different whistle styles for different species your best bet is to search the web for sound clips of the different species.
These are the basics that I use in the blind along with some advanced calling that we will go over in the future.  If you can get these basics down then your chances of getting ducks to finish will multiply 10 fold on your next trip out to the blind.  If you have any questions feel free to comment or contact me at one of the links below.

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

What A Weekend!

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

Hunting season!  I had the pleasure of spending the weekend chasing dove with a great group of guys. My younger brother is getting married in a few weeks so myself and a few of his friends put together a bachelor weekend at a friends ranch just outside of Weesatche, Texas.  There was great food, clay targets, shotguns, rifles, pistols, a decent number of dove, and an all around great time with some good people.

The weekend looked like it might have been a wash in all literal sense of the word.  Friday night and Saturday morning was an ongoing rain event that dropped 2-5" of rain in the area.  Saturday afternoon the rain came to a halt and the timing couldn't have been any better.  We were able to get a few rounds of skeet in before we all went out in the field to put a minor dent in the Texas dove population.  The final tally of birds in hand was 9 mostly due to the birds being spread out from the weather.  We stayed out until dusk and then made the short drive back to the barn.

Upon arrival at the barn we found that my dad, the cook for the weekend, had carved up the brisket that had been on the pit for about 12 hours as well as 6 beer can chickens accompanied with a pot of beans.  One thing about Texas country boys, WE CAN EAT!  Within an hour all the food was devoured, cold beverages were being consumed, washers were being thrown, and college football was on the big screen.  It was definitely the absolute best bachelor weekend I have ever been lucky enough to attend.

I'm dedicating this post to my brother.  Jared, I hope that your marriage is filled with good times and an eternal bond with a wonderful woman.  You are a hell of a man and I am thankful to be able to call you my brother.  I am extremely proud of you, and I love you.


Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

A Man's True Best Friend

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

As I sit here trying to figure out what I plan to let flow from my fingers on to the keyboard, I look up on the wall at the beautiful pintail that came from a stellar trip to the Laguna Madre.  Then I start to think about the fat greenhead that is resting on a piece of driftwood on my buddy John's wall in his living room.  That particular bird was taken off of a marsh pond in the back lakes of Trinity Bay.  As I think about hunts that I have been on and cold boat rides, beating the crowd to the public spots and hot September mornings waiting for that huge wad of teal to grace our presence, I know there is something that I am suppose to be typing but I just can't pinpoint what it is.  I then get a nudge from Aeva, my yellow lab.  Whether she is wanting to go outside or if she is really trying to tell me "daddy, tell 'em about ME" is beyond me, but it is the nudge that I needed.


See, Aeva has been with me longer than my wife, longer than my kids, and longer than most of my guns that are in the gun safe.  She is a hell of a water dog and has served me better than any dog I have ever had, and it is a pleasure to call her family.  She has probably made in the upwards of 1,000 retrieves from the Lower Laguna Madre to the upper reaches of the Lower Trinity River.  She is not just my dog, she is one of my best friends.

That pintail that rests on my wall was taken on a hunt with a fine group of guys that I had the pleasure of sharing a blind with.  It was getting close to dark and I had told my group that we would be heading in after the next volley.  I knew that the pintails in this particular area were using this flyway to head into the fresh water ponds after a long day of sitting in the salt marsh.  About 10 minutes before legal shooting time was up I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  This particular single bird was about 150 yards up and locked up on the decoys.  I let my guys know that we had a hot one committed and to get ready.  At about 60 yards for some unknown reason the fat sprig decided this was not the place for him and decided to backpedal and get the hell out of dodge.  That's when I dent a prayer shot up and connected.  The bird folded up and started falling.  When it hit the water all you heard was a thud followed by a huge splash.  At that point the bird righted himself and started to swim.  I went to heel Aeva up, but she was already by my side so I sent her on one of many missions that we have shared together.  She gets within 5 feet of the bird when he starts diving on her.  At that point all the training and time that we have spent fetching dummies in the pond was thrown out the window.  You see, Aeva has a natural instinct that any hunter would pray for.  With her tail in the air like she was on point, Aeva started swimming in circles waiting for the bird to surface.  HE popped up about 3 feet from her snout and immediately went back down.  This seemed like it was going to be a lost bird.  He popped up again about 4 feet from her and went back down, but this time Aeva did something that can never be taught in any training program.  Aeva dove in the 4 feet deep water with determination on her side.  She was down for a good 10 seconds when she rose from the depths of the bay with one of the nicest pintail drakes I have ever seen in my life!  She came back to my side, tail wagging, and released the bird in my hand when I gave her the command and then went back to her spot in the blind and sat waiting.

That day brought a tear to my eye as I knew that what I had, my best friend, my companion, my family was one of the best retrievers to have ever walked the face of this earth.  To say I was proud is a huge understatement.  Words can not describe the feeling I had.

As she lays at my feet right now, I look down at the 9 year old yellow lab and start to wonder how many more years she can do this.  How many more retrieves does she have in her?  When is it time to call it quits?  That is an question that only she will be able to answer, but I know that she will be a hard charger until that day comes.

I dedicate this entry to my dog, Aeva.  SHe has taught me many things in life, and she has been there for me no matter what.  She stands by my side and thinks I hung the moon and for those very reasons I owe this entry to her.

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Top 10 Reasons I Hunt

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

As a new hunting season approaches there are a ton of things that run through my head in preparation for what is to come in the next few months.  Is the boat ready to go?  Are the decoys rigged up?  Did I make all the repairs on equipment that needed to be made?  Last week I was out in the garage answering all these questions.  I pulled out my old blind stool and sat down in it and started thinking about things.  One question that kept coming back to me was WHY?  Why do I go to the extents that I do to chase fowl?  Why do I spend the amount of hard earned money on this sport?  Why do I wake up at 3:00 AM to run a boat for 30 minutes in 30 degree weather, trounce through marsh mud that rivals some of the deepest quicksand around, and then spend 45 minutes setting out decoys just to shoot some waterfowl?

Here is my top 10 reasons I do what I do to chase waterfowl.

10.  The smell of gunpowder at sun up as a group of greenwing teal buzz the decoys.

  9.  I have a chance to be out on the water. Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I have saltwater running through my veins!

  8.  Seeing a bird crumple in mid air after I pull the trigger on my Beretta A400 Xtreme!

  7.  Watching my yellow lab, Aeva, charge hard after that bird that just crumpled.

  6.  Enjoying a hot cup of coffee and a blind breakfast during that first lull.

  5.  Because duck breast, jalapeno, and cream cheese all wrapped in bacon and grilled tastes Mmmmmm Mmmmm GOOD!!!

  4.  Knowing that I am in GOD's country and I am doing what he intended for me to do.

  3.  I am able to share that blind with some of my closest friends.

  2.  I can spend time with my kids that I cherish so much.

And the number one reason I do what I do to chase waterfowl:

Passion!  I have a passion for the outdoors and everything that it stands for.  I have passion for sharing those times with my kids and friends.  I have a passion for what God has graced me with.

I take this time to be thankful for those ten things and many others that I am afforded in this great nation and have been so graciously given by the Man upstairs.

So what is on your top 10 list?


Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Breathe, Breathe, BREATHE!!!

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

You have gone out and spent $1600 on a new shotgun, $25 on a box of the "best" shells, and $2000 on a prime duck lease.  Opening morning rolls around and that first group of blue wing teal completely commit to your $750 decoy spread.  You pull up, stick a bead on the beak of a bird, and BOOM, BOOM, BOOM...nothing falls!  What's the problem?  I mean you bought the best of everything so shouldn't the birds just drop like rain?  One thing you forgot which happens to be the only free thing in your arsenal, AIR!  After the jump we will talk about how breathing, or not in most cases can determine a kill or a whiff.

When I first started hunting waterfowl really hard, I had a good friend that just so happened to be an excellent shotgunner.  When I say excellent, I mean the guy doesn't miss.  I have seen him have 3 shells loaded up with a 4th in his hand and limit out on teal during our early season with 4 pulls of the trigger in about 4 seconds flat.  My jaw dropped on that hunt.  Matt happens to be an excellent mentor to a lot of folks including myself when it comes to the outdoors.  One thing he taught me early on in our ventures is that my breathing was what makes me miss.  I would get so frustrated after a volley and only having 1 bird drop from my 3 shots.  What Matt pointed out to me was that when I would go to pull up, I would actually hold my breath.  Concentration is actually lost by doing this.

Now one might compare this to the breathing techniques of a sniper.  Honestly you would be comparing apples to oranges.  A sniper's breathing techniques require him to hold his breath between inhaling and exhaling for up to 10 seconds at times.  In this frame set the shooter is attempting to get himself into a relaxed state and thus connect with his target.  If he can not get himself into a relaxed state then his breathing exercise is repeated.

In a waterfowling situation, the shooter is actually very active and does not really have time to pause his breathing.  What is actually done is repetitious and uniformed breathing during the shooting process.  Holding your breath from the time you pull up to the time you take the last shot could potentially be 5-10 seconds.  Now sitting at your desk, recliner, or whatever it is that you are sitting in while reading this I want you to start holding your breath and stand up and act like you are taking shots at decoying birds.  Don't worry, we're waterfowlers and everyone thinks we are crazy to begin with.  I'm sure that duck call hanging from your rear view mirror gets a look from people every day.  Now how do you feel after the "shots" you just took.  I bet there are some that have no change, some that have to take a relief breath or 2, and then there are probably a few of us bigger boys that need to sit back down.  Relate this to your concentration in the blind while taking your shots and you can now see why breathing is important.

Next time you are in that layout blind in the stubble of a corn field, remember to take those breaths.  After all, your freezer depends on it!


Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Shotgun Shells: The Ins and Outs of Selection (Part 3)

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

We now have a basis of how factory loads perform vs hand loads and a good understanding of how to figure out what load works best in your gun.  Now we will take a look at a few factors that we can manipulate in order to fine tune what we are working with.  Choke tubes and recoil pads, we'll take a look at them after the jump.

One of the first things that people like to change when they buy a shotgun is the choke tube.  There are a few manufacturers in the game that produce some excellent products.  I have personally shot some of the best choke tubes on the market and swore by a couple of them and it could have potentially been a huge mistake on my part.  My initial fault the first time I shot an aftermarket choke tube was due to me shooting it in the field on a hunt out of a buddies gun.  My shot to kill ratio on a couple of vollies actually went up and it really made me think it was because of the tube.  What I didn't take into consideration is the fact that I was shooting a different gun with a different setup.  Shotgun fitment is the number one reason people miss.  I have heard it too many times, "Do you think this gun will be good for me?" My reply is first and foremost GO FIT THE GUN!

Now don't get me wrong, aftermarket choke tubes can really improve your shot to kill ratio especially when your standard tubes that come in the gun do not have much research put into them.  This is the main reason I shoot a Beretta A400 Xtreme. There was so much engineering and field testing put into the OptimaChoke HP tubes that I don't have to go out and spend another $50-100 for an aftermarket tube.  It comes in the package!  The patterns through this gun are outstanding and produce a very high percentage of pellets on target while patterning the gun.  It is just one more reason this gun has my reliability stamp of approval.

The other thing we will talk about is recoil pads.  A lot of guys feel that follow up shots are more accurate when there is less recoil.  I will agree with this to a certain extent.  Recovery time between shots is vital in certain situations in the blind.  One thing the shooter should remember is a rushed shot is a missed shot.  IF you can concentrate, remember to breathe, and place your shots correctly then less recoil is a great deal.  Until you can get that down then your second and third shots are pointless.  My dad taught me this at an early age by letting me shoot a single shot 20 gauge.  His theory was my shot selection would be better if I only had 1 chance.

Now I can utilize this and become a better shot. The recoil reduction in my A400 Xtreme  is above and beyond anything else on the market and was the final piece to the puzzle for me.  Add to that the ability to change the length of pull with the extra butt pads, and you have a gun that can be tailored to just about anyone straight out of the box.

This wraps up my 3 part "class" on shotgun shells, how to select them, and how to manipulate their performance.  Hopefully your next trip out to the duck blind will be more productive with these extra tools in your blind bag.


Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Our Future Hunters and Fishers

 


By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor



Five years ago my wife and I were blessed with our first child and at that point and time we both realized what it really meant to be a parent.  I can't even begin to name the millions of things on my bucket list that I now wanted to include him on.  From waterfowl hunting in Canada to sail fishing in Costa Rica, my adventures would not be complete without him included.

One thing that I have learned over the years as a parent is that these kids that we are raising are the future of our outdoor passions.  It really all came into perspective for me when my oldest son asked me every day, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day, for a week straight: "Daddy, when are we going fishing?"  At that point I realized that our children are what we mold them to be.  I realized quickly that both of my boys are as eaten up with hunting and fishing as I am (for which I have to give credit to my own dad).

The future of our passions and the future of our rights depend on what our children are taught, yet sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves that we tend to forget that.  I have learned over the years that I may not even pick my gun up the whole time on a hunt because I am more involved with teaching my sons about bird ID, flyways, or how wind plays into exactly where the birds will most likely decoy.

I am a firm believer in the saying "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life."


Have you taken a kid hunting or fishing lately?


Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.


Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

The 10 to 2 Rule

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest contributor

As an avid duck hunter I get to spend quite a bit of time in the blind with different people from all walks of life.  I have had the opportunity to hunt with professional sports stars as well as with average Joes that have never sat in a blind a day in their life.  One thing that I can not stress more is SAFETY!

When folks whom I've never been hunting with get in the blind with me, we always go over safety and shot selection, first and foremost.  The basic rule that I give is what I call the "10 to 2 Rule."  Basically what the hunter has to understand is that his window of opportunity will present itself between the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock position as he or she directly faces the front or rear of the blind.  If the bird happens to get outside of that range then that bird is off limits to the hunter and is in play for the person standing next to them.

If I have a hunter deviates from this rule, I will give a fair warning on the first instance.  I love this sport and I completely understand that we get caught up in the adrenaline rush sometimes, so if the infraction wasn't blatant or reckless I will give a little leeway.  My delivery will definitely make them think about the shot they took though.  If it happens again, the hunter will be asked to unload his weapon and set it down.  In all the years I have been hunting I have only had to go to this extreme one time.  After a few vollies, it was apparent that he understood where I was coming from and after a little pep talk we agreed that he would be WAY more careful.  I didn't have another problem all morning, and he learned a new respect for his weapon and the other hunters around him.

One exception to this rule is the hunter on the end of the blind.  I normally like to put more experienced hunters on the end because typically their shooting skills are far better than a novice's and thus they can "cover the end" of the blind.  I typically sit on the end where the door is, so I can work the dog on retrieves and cover that end of the blind.

One thing we all should remember: a hunt with no safety is nothing more than a game of Russian Roulette with accidents waiting to happen.  Whether you are in the duck marsh, the deer woods, or just having fun at the local range, safety should be your first and foremost concern at all times.  Always understand that "you are your brother's keeper" and not speaking up about unsafe acts is just as bad as if not worse than committing the unsafe act yourself.

Happy hunting and stay safe!

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter and YouTube.


Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube

 

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Embarking On A Waterfowl Journey

 
(by Brad Wilson - guest contributor)

It was a warm September morning. The sun was due up in a couple of hours, and what we like to call “The Rebirth of an Addiction” was about to take place. The boat was parked in a cane break that harbored what we would soon find out to be a waterfowler’s dream. About an hour to legal shooting time, we decided to go ahead and throw out the decoys and get set up. The spread was going to be large and very inviting. We had just over 15 dozen blocks of various species tossed out and bobbing up and down with every ripple of the salt water beneath them. As time grew nearer, the feeling inside was comparable to your first kiss but with a slight difference. See, this feeling was familiar but never ceases to change when this time of year rolls around. It is a feeling that you have been looking forward to since the last day of the previous season, and it is something that non-hunters could never understand. An addiction. A feeling. A passion. The morning ended with full straps of Blue Wing Teal and little did we know was a true sign of things to come.

My name is Brad Wilson, and I am just your average Joe that grew up in an industrial town just outside of Houston, Texas called Baytown. I was raised as an outdoorsman by an outdoorsman. My dad was an avid deer hunter and we shared many cool Texas mornings in a deer stand in the piney woods of deep East Texas chasing that elusive wall hanger that so many have a yearning for. It wasn’t until the age of 21 that I was introduced to waterfowl hunting by a really close friend that I worked with. Matt is still like a brother to me, and we are blessed to be able to get out in the field together a few times a season. From then on there was no looking back. I have hunted ducks and geese all along the Texas Coast every season since. I am also an avid fisherman and will get a line wet every chance I get whether it is chasing speckled trout and redfish in Trinity Bay or black bass and crappie on Lake Sam Rayburn. I have an extremely understanding, beautiful, and loving wife, 2 awesome sons that I share my passion for the outdoors with religiously, and 2 labrador retrievers that are not only my duck dogs but family as well. I shoot a Beretta A400 Xtreme, have recently been drawn to reloading my own shells, and run a JB Custom duck call on a Cut Em Custom Lanyard that I made myself. God, family, my country, hunting, fishing, and guns are the things in life that I love in that very order with the last three running hand in hand with each other.

I was very blessed to be asked to write for the Beretta USA Blog, and I look forward to sharing as I “Embark On A Waterfowl Journey” over the next few months. I hope you enjoy!

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