Monday, August 8, 2011

MSU study determines realistic duck call materials

Copied from MSU Site:

By Karen Brasher
MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center
MISSISSIPPI STATE - Most duck hunters look forward to the thrill of mimicking duck calls to attract members of the flock.
James Callicutt, a former Mississippi State University graduate student, has spent much of his life as a duck hunter and call maker. Most recently, he has studied the sounds of female mallard ducks and compared them to sounds from man-made duck calls constructed of different types of materials.
James Callicutt, a former Mississippi State University graduate student, is the first to scientifically compare the acoustic features of wild female mallard calls to the acoustic features of humans using duck calls. (MSU University Relations/File Photo)Click to Enlarge
James Callicutt, a former Mississippi State University graduate student, is the first to scientifically compare the acoustic features of wild female mallard calls to the acoustic features of humans using duck calls. (MSU University Relations/File Photo)
Although duck calls originated in the 1850s, Callicutt is the first to scientifically compare the acoustic features of wild female mallard calls to the acoustic features of humans using duck calls. As part of his graduate research in the MSU Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Callicutt found a way to measure the accuracy of man-made duck calls, which helps hunters create more realistic calls.
“Female mallards make numerous sounds. The most common is the decrescendo, or hail, call,” Callicutt said. “The decrescendo typically consists of five to six quacks, with the loudest in the first and second note.”
Decrescendos are the sounds most often imitated by duck callers. Callicutt recorded 620 decrescendos of wild female mallards during the winters of 2008 and 2009. He then constructed duck calls from acrylic and different types of hardwood.
“Calls were made of native woods, including osage orange, yellow poplar, black walnut, pecan and red oak,” Callicutt said. “We also used exotic bocote and cocobolo from South America and Central America because these are used in commercial production of wooden calls.”
Callicutt made 16 experimental combinations of calls. He fitted seven hardwood calls and one acrylic call with single or double plastic reeds, which create sound by vibrating when the calls are blown. The next step in his research was to assemble a group of experienced duck callers.
“We asked prospective callers if they considered themselves an average-to-good caller and accepted their participation in the experiment if they replied ‘yes,’” said Rick Kaminski, wildlife ecology and management professor and Calicutt’s major professor. “We assumed the 38 callers were a representative cross-section of duck hunters capable of calling ducks in the field.”
The duck callers listened to a recording of a randomly chosen female mallard and were asked to mimic the recording using each of the 16 duck calls. Researchers used specialized software to digitize and compare the calls of the mallards and callers. This comparison showed that duck calls equipped with double reeds created more accurate calls. In addition, the top 10 calls were made from denser materials.
“We found that cocobolo, bocote, pecan, osage orange and acrylic with double reeds most resembled the descrescendos of female mallards,” Kaminski said. “Besides these hardwoods, duck call manufacturers could use hardwoods with similar density and hardness, such as hickories and persimmon.”
The research provides valuable information to duck call manufacturers and hunters, and Callicutt’s work has landed the New Albany native with a start-up company specializing in duck calls. While his company, Hardwoods Waterfowl Calls LLC, may not replace his career as a waterfowl biologist, his blend of research, entrepreneurism and passion has created new opportunities for the university alumnus.
“This research allowed me to combine my hobby of making duck calls with my education and has now given me an opportunity for a business,” Callicutt said. “I have something unique to offer duck hunters: a scientifically evaluated duck call.”
Released: July 28, 2011
Contact: Dr. Rick Kaminski, (662) 325-2623

Rocky Leflore

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What are the best duck hunting Waders?

When duck hunting in the deep south cold is not an issue,  but probably three to four days per week. When I use the term cold it is not frigid cold like the cold you can see in the Rockies, Canada, or the Prairies of the Mid-West region. Most days the high temperature is around 50-55 and lows average around 35, but we do have our days that it is highs in the 30-40's and lows in the 15-25 range. So a big thick wader is not preferred by most hunters. 3.5 ml (unit of measuring the thickness of insulation in waders) is a usually thick enough to keep you warm on the cool days and thin enough to not get so hot on the warm days. The biggest problem in making a decision in waders for deep south duck hunting is the durability of the wader itself. We hunt lots of flooded timber in the south and waders have to tackle snags under the water, walking durability (stretching the seams as you are walking a lot), and yes even muskrats and beavers. It is a long story I will tell another time.

I called upon one my team of experts at to give me a right answer on the question. Their most recommended waders for hunting in the deep south was "Mack Big Ditch Wader's."  Their opinion of the wader was that it would hold up to most anything in the flooded timber and it doesn't let you get to hot in the warmth or to cold in the cold weather and it won't bust at the seams or stitchings from walking.

Right now you get these waders at Macks Prairie Wings for about $135.00. I think this is a great price for a wader that is gonna last for a few years and Mack's has a great customer service to deal with if you have any problems.

I also spoke to a local outdoor store to get their opinion on what was the best. Jimmy Slater, at Slater's Outdoor Products in Indianola, Ms, said that most of his customers preferred the Hodgman and Drake brand the best. I asked if he had ever heard of the Mack's product above and he had, but it was a product not carried by his store.

I hope this helps you as a hunter in deciding what to buy in buying your next brand of waders. Remember that you need a wader that will keep you warm and cool at the same time and waders that won't tear on under water snags or bust at the seams from walking to much.

Rocky Leflore

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Great Mississippi River Flood and Summer Happenings!

I want to thank you all for the many calls on how we are doing with the flood and if we were taking on any water. We have not had any water problems where we are, but just south of here on the other side of Belzoni it is pretty rough. The water has risen above the highways and has taken a lot of the crops out in those areas. The river has finally started to drop some, but won't drop below flood stage until the middle to the end of June. Right now there is 2 million cubic feet of water per second moving down the mighty Mississippi. One good thing about the wet spring season though is in the breeding grounds up north have had one of the biggest duckling hatches ever according to Delta Waterfowl. I am excited to hear hear the number when they come out in a few weeks.

The next big thing happening at Mossy Island Outfitters this summer is the birth of the next guide. As most of you know Royann and I are expecting our second child. If Royann hasn't had the baby by June 8, we will induce then. We don't know what it is and I continue to hope it looks like Royann.

Bookings are up right now and if you plan on returning this winter please go ahead and give me a call. Look forward to hearing from you guys and thank you again for checking on us with the flood.

Rocky Leflore

Monday, May 16, 2011

What shot size is the best for killing ducks?

Recently we did a blog post on the type of shell that is preferred by most duck hunters hunting in Mississippi. Today we look at the shot size coming out of the shell. This is another of the numerous questions I get from hunters coming in to do a guided hunt at Mossy Island Outfitters. What size shot do I need to shoot? I have always given my opinion on what I shoot. I have always shot BB's down to a 2 shot in the field and 2 shot down to 4 shot in the timber (remember inexperienced hunters the larger the number the smaller the shot). I try not to go lower than these shot sizes, seeing how I could end up just wounding a lot of ducks.  Being a guide, the faster we get out of a duck hole with the limit, the sooner we can hunt that hole with other clients. Another reason to always shoot bigger shot, is while hunting  in the field is the chance of shooting down some geese. There is always a good chance geese are going to fly close enough or decoy in to a field hole you are hunting. So it is smart to have these bigger shot sizes to knock some geese down along with your duck limit.

Again this week I proposed the question of shot size to my group of expert hunters on and got their opinion. I counted their votes and put them on a pie chart. I hope this group vote from expert Mississippi duck hunters will help you make your next decision on shot size.

So I called on my old pal Jimmy Slater, at Slater's in Indianola, Ms,  who owns an outdoor store that services a lot of Mississippi Delta duck hunters. He said that most hunters that shop at his store prefer 2 shot more than any other shot size. He said it is versatile to most hunters for the field and then to use also in the timber.I hope this helps hunters deciding what size shot to buy when coming to hunt on a guided duck hunt in Arkansas or Mississippi. Please call us to book you next guided duck hunt at 1-877-699-6677 or check out our website at

Rocky Leflore

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Brand of Steel Shot or Shotgun Shell is The Best for Duck Hunting?

A lot of customers will ask me when planning their trip what brand of shotgun shell we prefer customers to shoot while on their hunt with us. I really don't care to much about the brand of shell as much as I do as the trigger puller behind the shell. Because if you are not used to shooting ducks, it is a hard task for some. We did run a test on most brands a couple of years ago to see how they would pattern. The best of the best was the Hevi-Shot and the worst of the worst was the Estate. The Hevi-Shot patterned with a modified choke, 12 guage, 3 inch shell, and 4 shot at thirty yards was perfect. It formed a pattern about 2-3 feet wide, which is perfect for shooting ducks in any situatation. The Estate steel shot spread out to 5-6 feet with very few holes. So I asked a group of friends of mine and thank you again for the responses, probably the best group of duck hunters I know at and here are their responses put in a graph:

As you can see the new Hypersonic seems to be a good one along with Black Cloud and Kent following close behind with these group of expert hunters. So I went a little further and called a local outdoor store to see the most popular shells that hunters that shop at his store buy. I spoke with Mr. Jimmy Slater at Slater's Inc. in Indianola, Ms at and he said his most popular shell that he sells is the Black Cloud and the new Heavy Metal shell. He said most hunters seem to get the most umph, as we duck hunters say, from these shells. I hope this helps in your next decision in what shotgun shells to buy when coming to the Ms. Delta on a guided hunt with Mossy Island Outfitters,

Rocky Leflore

Monday, May 2, 2011

Guided Duck Hunt Numbers 2010-2011

Last week we talked about the numbers by the week. This week we show the total numbers by the species of ducks of the 2010-2011 season. It was a great season this year. I heard a lot of grumblings from other duck hunters around the area about how dry it was, but I am not gonna complain about it being dry. I lost a lot of flooded timber I usually hunt due to it being so dry. The reason I like a dry year so much though is I believe it concentrates the ducks in the holes you do have and that far outweighs having a few extra timber holes to hunt. I have heard other hunters say that ducks pass the Mississippi Delta and its low water conditions in a dry year for the LA. Marsh, but from my numbers I have better years in normal to dry conditions. On average this year, It was a cold year compared to other years. We recieved three snows which is unusual for the Mississippi Region. With all that being said, lets look at the numbers:

As you can see the spoonbills were plentiful this year due to the low water conditions and concentrating them in the catfish ponds and flooded fields we hunt. The mallards we shot were both in the field and in the flooded timber holes we hunted. Gadwall was one of the the main ducks we killed this year. The gadwall hunts we had this year was almost like the gadwall hunts of 10-15 years ago. What I mean by this is when they came in they flooded in. Sometimes it was amazing even for me to see and I have been on some of the best flooded timber hunts ever. Teal numbers were right on where they usually are. Canvasback numbers were through the roof. I don't know where all these canvasbacks came from. It was the most I had ever seen. The last two seasons the canvasbacks have been very plentiful though. Wood ducks were also were concentrated in the few holes they had left to sit on with most brakes and flooded timber holes dry. Other ducks consist of bluebills, hooded meganzers, ruddy ducks, and ringnecks. When Ducks Unlimited released their numbers and said the bluebill hatch was up this year, I said yeah I have heard that before. They were right on because it was the most I had seen in five years. So as you can see the variety was there in the numbers we killed. I think this is what makes us here at Mossy Island Outfitters so unique. When you hunt with us you may come back with five different ducks in a six duck limit. If hunts like this interest you please visit our website at or call us at 1-877-699-6677 or my cell at 662-392-4740.

Rocky Leflore

Monday, April 25, 2011

When is the best time to duck hunt in Mississippi, Arkansas, or Louisiana?

Another question that is posed to me with every new hunter that calls. What is the best time to come? When is the best time to kill ducks in Mississippi,Arkansas, or Louisiana? According to Trey Smith on our facebook fan page, it is anytime the season is open. That is true because any day hunting is better than any day in the office, but I have to give paying cutomers an answer to this question. I have found that the best time to hunt in the south is in the weeks between Dec. 15 and Jan 25. This is when most bag limits are filled by our hunters here at Mossy Island Outfitters. Here is a graph for overall number of duck kills per hunter:

Then I have people that only want to come when there is a good chance of mallards being killed. So here is a graph of mallard kills per hunter over the past five years.

Next week we will show total numbers by species by the week here at Mossy Island Outfitters. So I hope this will help many in how they make their decision in not only hunting with me, but when they head to the south to hunt ducks. These graphs are very representative of the hunting in this time frame of Central Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Call to book your hunt today at Mossy Island Outfitters at 1-877-699-6677 or 662-392-4740 or go to our website at .

Rocky Leflore

Monday, April 18, 2011

Are Yall Killing Ducks?

This is the number one question asked to me by hunters on the phone before they come out. The biggest mistake I ever made in my guiding career was telling a group we were killing mallards and we weren't. I learned a couple of things from this mishap on my part.
The first thing I learned was I am duck hunting service and not a mallard killing service. Mallards have become so unpredictable, I can't just really rely on shooting just them to run my business. Second thing I learned was to always tell the truth and nothing but the truth when people call. So I now always give the truth when somebody calls. Most of the time we are killing ducks. It just may not be the kind they want to shoot. We have always had access to old catfish ponds and working catfish ponds in our guiding rotation. It seems the ducks (shovelers, bluebills, and Canvasback) that sit on these ponds arrive here and never leave throughout the season. So it makes for some exciting shooting for some clients that may kill one to two ducks all season in some of their honey holes at home. So now when people call and ask if we are killing ducks, I always ask which species they are talking about. Some people may just want to go to a mallard hole and kill one big duck compared to a limit of other ducks when things are slow, but I find most people want to shoot. Shooting always make customers and also myself happy and as long as we are killing ducks I am happy. I think the only time I get frustrated in this business is when a customer doesn't pull the trigger enough to fill a limit. So if that happens in my guided duck hunts I will always take the customer out for a free afternoon hunt.  I hope to see all of you soon at Mossy Island Outfitters.

Rocky Leflore

Monday, April 11, 2011

You might be a Topwater!

Topwater- I think the definition of a topwater would be a duck hunter, new to the sport that obsesses over it. I mean that is all they think about. They try anything and everything to kill a duck. They present themselves in public as an expert and make sure all around them know how good, the gadgets they possess, and how obsessed they are with their sport. So topwater I would probably say is all about the presentation of yourself in duck hunting to people around you. All of us were newbies and totally obsessed with duck hunting at one time or another. I will be the first to say I did a lot of things on this list at one time or another and I was obsessed with duck hunting. So as you read these please don't get mad at me for listing them because I did most of them. I actually was Topwater of the year in 1997. So here they are (just finish each statement with you might be a topwater):

If you try to load 3.5 into a 3 inch gun,
If you have camo makeup on your face after the hunt when you make it to town to grab breakfast,
If you wear your calls into the restaurant,
If there is nothing older than two years old in all of your duck hunting supplies,
If you have a dog named delta or gumbo,
If you put camo makeup on your yellow dog,
If you have more spinners than regular decoys,
If you have to many duck hunting stickers on your truck,
If Drake or Under Armour is your number one brand in your closet for all your clothes,
If you have a duck tatoo,
If you use a Primos Shaker feeder,
If you have more chokes than shells,
If you can't clean your own gun, (I fit into this one, I have to get a client to clean it for me each year)
If all your duck bands came from EBAY,
If you think your banded bird was banded in Laurel, Maryland,
If you use duck cocaine or hen-n-heat in your hole,
If  you copy or quote more than three things from The Duckman,
If you park a red or yellow 4-wheeler beside your blind in full site of ducks,
If you think you can shoot two daily limits because of the possession limit law,
If the only comeback you know is the Arkansas hail call,
If all your camo matches to the T,
If you don't know what a grebe is, (that's me, i thought I had a rare coot)
If you buy Drake old school camo,
If you have a dog named drake or avery,
If you hunt public land and set up 50 yards or less from the next group and refuse to hunt with the other party next to you even after being asked to,
You try to kill a duck 75 yards or higher,
If you use confidence decoys,
If you don't know how to load your gun,
If you shoot more ducks on the water instead of hovering,
If you own a call coozie,
If you blow a Canada call when specks are flying two miles high over you,
If your ring tone on your cell phone is duck chatter,
If you use camo toilet paper,
If you just happen to have your handy dandy hand held crow call on your duck lanyard.
If you have chrome exhaust on your outboard or mud motor for your duck boat

If you know of any more that need to be added please leave them to me where I can add them in the comments section.

Rocky Leflore

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Flooded Timber or The Field?

I have this question asked to me every time someone calls me about a guided hunt. My response is always, "we will hunt where the ducks are". I am not really trying to be a smart ellic when I respond in this way. I have both opportunities in my array of places to hunt. I am not like some Arkansas guided duck hunts having only the flooded timber to hunt. In my opinion duck hunting has changed over the last twenty to thirty years. When I first started duck hunting, really the only places that had water were the old cypress brakes and some flooded hardwoods and all you ever killed were mallards, gadwalls, and wood ducks. The only time you really saw a flooded field was after it rained and there was a low spot in the field that didn't drain. Fast forward to today and everybody that has a pipe in a field stops it up, floods it, and rents it out. Also factor in all the old fish ponds that have been drained down and planted in row crop and flood in the winter time which plays a huge part in holding ducks.

If someone were to ask me where I would prefer to guide a group of clients. I would say the fields. Why you ask?
Will Primos with a group at Mossy Island Outfitters hunting the field. Notice the variety of ducks!

1. More opportunity for shooting
2. Because of the food source, sooner or later they are gonna come to the food.
3. More of a variety of ducks
4. I have killed ducks in the field whether cloudy or sunny.

1. Difficult to hide. (made easier when layouts were invented)
2. Full Moon sooner or later will get you.
3. Can spread you out with to much water. Your 3 acre hole can turn into a 30 acre hole with a good rain.
4. Have to be able to be very versatile.
5. Can freeze up easy.

Where would I prefer to hunt if it were just me and a buddy? I would tell you straight up it is the flooded timber. Because to me it is not about the killing anymore.
Nice flooded timber hunt with some clients!

1. I can hide more easily.
2. Ducks have only certain places they can get down through the timber.
3. In your face shooting action.
4. Feels like the old days every time I do it.

1. Depends on a lot of rain or well water.
2. You can't hunt it on a cloudy day.
3. You may have to boat in which can be dangerous sometimes in the dark.
4. Your are depending on gadwallls mostly and the only thing dependable about a gadwall is they aren't very dependable.

There are advantages to hunting in the field or the timber. The main thing about it really when it comes down to the nut cutting is being where the ducks want to be. If I missed some advantages or disadvantages in your opinion please post them in the comments section

Rocky Leflore