If you’re relatively new to the pastime of duck hunting and you start to gather essential gear for a successful day, you may need a few suggestions from the veterans. It would be wise for you to pay close attention to these recommendations and suggestions. As with any hobby or profession there are certain items you’ll definitely need, and others you can carry along to make the experience less stressful. After all, you definitely want peace of mind when you’re on or near the water.
You may be tempted to grab onto the newest gear options at the beginning of the season, especially if these products are being marketed as the “latest” or “most advanced” gear for the serious duck hunter. Some of them will make promises such as helping you to bag the daily limit or to keep you perfectly warm and comfortable in the worst weather. Before you break out the credit card or lay down your hard-earned cash, take a couple of deep breaths and decide whether you really need this new “stuff.”
If you’re looking for help that will save you money and put the right gear close at hand, you’re invited to read on. This may not be a complete list of essential gear for a successful duck hunting day, but it will be very close to complete. If you have all of these items with you, you’ll be prepared for just about any situation. Start your gear-gathering with a good backpack or roomy shoulder bag. This could be “gear central” for the smaller items and loose items you’ll make use of, though it’s a personal decision.
Many duck-hunting veterans use a portable blind you can lay out in the more solid ground, though this may not work in swamp conditions. This option is great because you can have great concealment but drop the sides, sit up and shoot when the time comes. Do your own research to find a camo model to fit your budget. You’ll also need a quality pair of boot-foot waders, in camouflage or dark brown.
Be sure to gather information from a reliable review site or buyer’s guide for hunting-waders before you spend your money. If you are only going to buy one pair of waders, get chest waders so you’ll be prepared for all conditions. Hip waders are fine for certain water conditions, so you could also add a quality pair in this style. For any waders you buy, look closely at the seams and make sure you get insulated boots if you’re going to be out in cold weather.
Shell Belt, Duck Call
These are two of the items you’ll probably carry in your backpack or gear bag. If you want to make sure you have plenty of shells at hand you can invest in a good neoprene shell belt. Get one that is easily adjustable and holds a full box (25) shells. There are a lot of great duck calls, so you will probably spend some time shopping for and reading about this tool. Bottom line: Don’t go duck hunting without at least one good call.
The next item on the “essential” list can be a major investment, though new technology has produced some great duck decoys you can buy at very reasonable prices. Many companies offer packs of a dozen that are light in weight but give a very realistic look. Veterans of duck hunting recommend using a minimum of 12, carefully set to give the most attractive appearance. Some hunters insist on carrying a motorized hen decoy along. Look into this carefully before making a decision.
You’ll need a quality bag for your decoys. Don’t try to cut corners here, unless your budget is extremely tight. Some bags can handle your decoys, folded blind and small, loose gear, so you won’t have to invest in another piece of equipment (such as the gear bag mentioned earlier). Speaking of optional gear, if you have stocking-foot waders you’ll need to have a good pair of wading boots. When you’re buying waders and boots, take your time. You’ll be glad you did.
Dry and Warm
If you want to take an extra step to protect your ammunition and other items that should not get wet, purchase a high-quality dry box – for phone, camera, shells, optics and any other items. In the same vein, you should protect your hands with Thinsulate™ gloves designed for hunting and fishing. You’ll be able to handle your gear and keep your hands warm at the same time. This is another item you don’t want to cut corners with. Don’t let cold hands and cold feet slow you down and ruin what would otherwise be a great experience.
Taking this idea a bit further, you may want to invest in a box of hand warmers. These are small, light and very effective. Some companies sell them in packs of 80, which means you can be the hero when you offer them to your hunting companions on a cold day. If you’re hunting on the water, you may also want to invest in a camouflage wrap for your boat, if it isn’t painted in that style already. You can conceal your boat with this easy-to-install kit.
Of course, the other item you don’t want to leave home without is your license and any other identification you may need. In fact, before you head out, sit back for a few minutes and write a list, starting with licenses and ID. Then number the items above and write them on the list. You may also want to include a gun on your list (just kidding).
Easy to Read
To put additional hunting gear in another, easy-to-read form, here are some items you might need or will need.
- Shooting/safety glasses
- Seat or stool
- Hearing protection
- Toilet paper
- Drinking water
- Wader repair kit
- Thermal underwear/other clothing
- Pole/gaff hook
- Dog gear – caller, whistle, food, leash etc.
You may also need flashlight and batteries, compass, emergency flares, energy bars/food, GPS device or map. If you plan to clean your game while on the trip you should plan for wrapping/freezer paper, processing knives, plastic bags, gloves to use during cutting, other cutting shears and tools.
You learned from the start you should plan carefully so you’re not without essential gear when you go duck hunting. To ensure you have all you need, take advice from the hunting veterans. Chances are they have made a few “gear” mistakes in the past and will be able to guide you so you don’t have to suffer through cold, wet days without something you need.
There are specific items you will definitely need, and others you may take along as personal preference. Only when you’ve been out a few times will you start to put together an inventory of all the items to make sure you have a successful duck-hunting trip. The mild warning about not being drawn into buying the “newest” and the “latest” because you could end up spending money you could have used for a better purpose.
Work with the idea that it’s better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and need it. When you do this, you’ll be heading down the right path.