Hunting Q & A

Can you call in divers?

Can you call in divers?

Q: I have a good question about diver ducks such as Bluebills, Buffleheads and Goldeneye among others. This is my second year hunting out on the Chesapeake Bay for these ducks and I've been told that you can't call them in using a call. I've been told that all they do is decoy in.

I can hear them making a light grunting/quack sound and a growling sound when flying and sitting on the water. My question is, is this really the case? When the Bluebill landed I tried to duplicate by mouth the sound it was making and the duck actually responded to me by swimming in toward my spread while making it's quacking and growling sound. The Bluebill was a drake and it swam to within 5 yards of my blind site and continued to linger around our spread for as long as I was "talking back" to it. I stopped and the duck took off minutes later. Can you use a call on diver ducks to bring them in or is buying a call for these ducks a waste of money? - Chris Reinthaler

A: Diving ducks will not respond to a call as visibly as mallards and Canada geese (two species that will really work to the call in the right circumstances) but in my experiences calling divers can certainly yield some positive results. The purrs, barks and coarse quacks uttered by diving ducks can easily be mimicked with your average mallard call although some manufactures do produce calls for this purpose. I routinely use purrs and barks when hunting divers and I believe it helps and heck I like to call ducks.

With divers, location and decoys are the key factors but calling can certainly help. Also, many old time diving duck hunters used to use a small flag to wave at passing ducks. We have used that technique as well with some result. Scout the birds, lay a big spread of blocks, call and flag and you will be doing everything you can to have a great diver hunt.

—John Devney