How to clean and maintain your duck call
We’ve all been there. You see the flock of birds, and you’re ready to give them a blast to draw them in. You pull out your call, but something is wrong. The call isn’t working as it should … or not at all.
Where’s that superior high-end tone or soft, subtle sound you normally get? You depend on your duck call to produce the right sounds at those opportune moments. For that, you need a clean duck call.
We’re obsessive about keeping our guns clean, up-keeping our boats and maintaining other hunting gear, but duck calls can easily be forgotten. When was the last time you cleaned and cared for your calls?
Why you need to clean your duck calls
Duck calls will collect all kinds of gook. Dirt, sticky residue from drinks, grease and food particles, and even pocket lint. Any type of debris can make the reeds stick or alter the sound of the duck call. The buildup prohibits the reed from working properly in conjunction with the soundboard, which can hamper performance by preventing the reeds from oscillating as they should.
The reeds must be free of any debris to vibrate properly and produce those crisp, authentic duck sounds. Regular care and maintenance of your duck call goes a long way toward maintaining peak performance.
How often you should clean your call
How often you should clean your duck call depends on how much use it gets. After a string of hunts, don’t just hang your calls in the garage until the next hunt. For habitual hunters, you may need to clean your call a few times during hunting season.
Normally, you should clean your duck call twice a year during the off-season, typically before the start of hunting season and at the end, to keep it well-maintained. Cleaning and periodic tune-ups will keep your call sounding as crisp as the day you bought it and retain its tone and clarity.
Looking for something to do while anxiously waiting for hunting season to start? This is the perfect time to clean and care for your duck calls!
How to deep clean your duck call
You’ll want to deep clean your duck call before duck season starts and again at the end of the hunting season. Follow these 6 steps:
- When you take the call apart, make sure that you mark the placement of all the parts, so that you know exactly how to fit the pieces back together. You can use a fine-tip Sharpie to place a mark where the reed sits.
- After you’ve marked your call and taken it apart, and soak it in soap and warm water.
- Rinse the call completely with lukewarm water.
- Towel off the parts, then set them out to air dry completely.
- This is a good time to inspect the parts to see if any may need repair, such as a cracked cork or cracked or worn reeds.
- Reassemble your call before storing it. Use your Sharpie mark to make sure the reed is placed back exactly where it was before. The relationship between the reed and the tone board determines the quality of the sound.
Tips for cleaning and maintaining your duck call
You don’t always need a full deep clean to get your call back in shape. These tips will help you maintain your call no matter where you are or what type of call you have.
- In the field: To clean out dirt or debris that’s making the reeds stick or lock up, keep some dental floss or a crisp dollar bill with you in the field. We don’t recommend that you do this more than necessary as you can drop and lose parts in the field. Carefully pull apart your call by holding the exhaust with the reed in your hand. Slide a dollar bill or dental floss between the barrel and the reed. Draw it through to remove any debris.
- For quick cleaning: Separate the insert from the barrel. Rinse your call with lukewarm water — you don’t want the water to be too hot. Towel them both off, then leave them out to air dry. Reassemble after they’re completely dry.
- For acrylic calls: Separate the tone board, then soak the call in a bowl with mild soap and water. This will loosen the debris. After soaking, rinse the call well to make sure there is no soap residue left on the call. Use a crisp dollar bill or dental floss to clean under the reeds to remove any dirt and debris that may still be there. Insert the bill or dental floss from the front, then pull it back to the end to clean under the reeds. Let the call sit out until it dries completely.
- For wooden calls: When caring for wooden duck calls, the percentage of moisture in the wood is important. If the wood is dried out due to a lack of moisture, it can split and break. To avoid this, never leave a wooden call out in the hot sun, near a fireplace, or hanging from your rearview mirror. Try this Slayer family secret to preserve the wood: Use linseed oil to help it keep its color and prevent cracking.
The Slayer Promise: Re-tuning and re-polishing
If you own a Slayer duck call, we make maintaining your duck call easy with the Slayer Promise. Our lifetime warranty covers reeds, tuning, and replacements. If your reeds get out of whack or you’re looking for an end-of-the-season tune-up, we’ll professionally re-tune and re-polish your call for you. We’re committed to helping you keep your Slayer duck call in peak condition.