Introduction: How to Make a Neoprene Life Jacket for Your Duck Call or Goose Call

Lanyards are a popular and effective way to carry your Duck and Goose calls when hunting. They keep the calls accessible for quick use as well as high and dry from the pond, creek, river, or lake waters you are hunting over or on.
However, as the calls are typically not permanently attached to the lanyard, they can be pulled loose. Inadvertent experimentation on my part has confirmed that frantic arm waving and wind-milling can strip a call from a lanyard faster than a pro tackle can take the ball away from a butter-fingered receiver. This experiment was part of an impromptu attempt to levitate myself, while wearing neoprene waders in an effort to halt the flow of cold, muddy pond water into the top of said waders. The final proofs in this series of experiments were that my newly purchased duck call would not float, and that agitating beaver poop and dead vegetative mulch from the bottom of the pond renders the water totally opaque.

Right after I got onto firm footing, I resolved to overcome this problem in an inexpensive manner.

Step 1: Materials

  • scissors
  • sewing needle
  • thread or monofilament fishing line
  • Duck call / Goose call
  • measuring tape
  • neoprene material
  • carpenter clamp (optional)

Step 2: Obtain Neoprene

After online searching did not turn up a suitable source of 3mm neoprene, I was starting to eye up an older pair of neoprene boots in my scuba gear bag. Fortunately, I came across a $3.00 neoprene sleeve for tablet computers in one of the numerous Dollar Stores here in Ontario.

Step 3: Measure the Call

I guesstimated that covering all except for 3/4 of an inch on each end of the call would be sufficient to allow normal usage and provide enough neoprene to be wrapped around it to make it float.

Step 4: Prepare Neoprene

The stitching on 2 sides of the sleeve was removed in order to have a single layer to work with.

Measure the neoprene to plan the cuts, if it works I wanted to get the most out of my $3.00! I cut off the rounded corners and squared up the material.

Step 5: Measure Call Diameter

I like simple, so wrapping the call with the neoprene made more sense than attempting to calculate the call diameter and then call diameter with 1 layer of neoprene on it.

Now that old formula is Diameter = 2 pi Radius Squared; yes I'm sure this will be much easier and be reasonably accurate.

Step 6: Cut Neoprene

I estimated the amount of material to fully wrap the call in the previous step, then snipped the end to mark the spot. second measurement is the call length minus 1 and 1/2 inches.

Okay, so the cut is not perfectly straight, but I'll smooth that over when wearing my tailor's hat (seamstress bonnet, if you are female and making it for yourself or if your husband has sweet talked you into it).

Step 7: Shape the Neoprene

Form neoprene into cylindrical shape. I like simple, this gives me a single seam to sew. The stitching goes through all 4 layers of the neoprene.

Step 8: Stitch Cylinder Wall

At this point I remembered where I put the 10 pound test mono-filament fishing line and switched to it for sewing. I also thought it would be easier to use a small carpentry clamp to hold the neoprene. First creation was entirely by hand, and I seem to recall getting a cramp in my palm from holding the neoprene tightly during stitching activities.

Fishing line is doubled for stitching, knot on end provides loop for first stitch and basic over and under sewing gets this step looked after.

Step 9: Stitch Cylinder End Seam

Stitch the seam on the cylinder end. This is required only on the end you are going to slip over the call. Same stitching method continues as done in the previous step. Complete the sewing with a secure knot of your choice.

Thanks Mom for teaching me how to sew those many decades ago!

Step 10: Insert Call and Test

Insert call into neoprene cylinder / sleeve / lifejacket. (name it what you will)

Test flotation in safe waters. I used bathroom sink.

Step 11: Go Hunting

Take your call(s) hunting with an increased sense of security.

I made the first sleeve in 2013 after loosing 1 duck call. Thought about making another sleeve before taking my new goose call with this year (2014), but got busy and also forgot where the neoprene material had been stored. While setting decoys out for a lake hunt, both my life-jacketed duck call and the unprotected goose call fell out of my waders pocket. I picked up the floating duck call from where it was bobbing in the waves and added a replacement goose call to the shopping list. :-(

Step 12: Disclaimer

This will not protect your calls from any other of the many misadventures that may arise, it will just help them to float. :-)

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