I want to begin by saying duck hunting can be an extremely expensive hobby to get into. However, it is so much fun and absolutely worth every penny! I have put together a list of what I think are the top 10 duck hunting essentials. I tried to keep this broad and cover a lot of different bases rather than just focusing on apparel, calls, bags… this list could go on and on and I could dive into so much detail on just those topics. Be sure and let me know if you would like to see more in-depth blogs in the future related to this one!
# 1 – Waders
Is it even duck hunting if you aren’t wearing waders?? Nahhh calm down, I’m kidding. You can definitely duck hunt without waders, but for this blog I’ll focus on hunting in the flooded timber, which is what I mainly hunt. Okay so where were we… waders! Big surprise coming here – LaCrosse Footwear makes great waders and they are decently priced too! Ladies, I recommend the 1600G Hail Call Waders. Gents, the breathable Wetlands are a great cost effective option. I could go way more into detail on why I recommend each of these, but I’m trying to keep this short and somewhat sweet.
# 2 – Outer Jacket
In my opinion all waterfowlers need a good all around jacket that can handle the wind, rain and cold. When wearing waders I prefer to have my base layers tucked in and then my jacket over my straps. This makes it easy to take on or off depending on the weather. Plus, it doesn’t add much bulk. I do wear Sitka, so yes, I am into the “systems.” I recommend the Delta Wading Jacket. It doesn’t add much insulation, but it keeps your heat in and breaks the wind incredibly well, which is perfect for early morning boat rides to the hole. The Delta Wading Jacket doesn’t add any bulk or get in the way of shouldering your gun. Its completely waterproof too! I know the price tag is high, but look at this jacket as an investment and it will last pretty much forever.
# 3 – Hand and Toe Warmers
I don’t know about you, but my fingers and toes are always the first to get cold. I combat this with hand and feet warmers. Especially when calling, I expose my bare hand and its so nice to tuck it into my pocket and grab a toasty hand warmer. Short story – when I was younger my feet would get so cold in the blind that I would strip off my waders and my dad would massage my bare feet in his hands to warm them up. #BestDadEver
# 4 – Duck Call(s)
I get asked what duck calls I use all the time, so of course I have to include it here. In the timber, I like to blow my RNT Mondo LT. This is not the call I learned on, and it has taken me years to get comfortable with it. I still have a long way to go, but man do I love the rasp and volume I get out of my Mondo. I realized my air presentation was all wrong before I started blowing this call so its pretty neat that by learning to blow a cutdown it improved my overall calling. Side note – I started learning to blow a duck call in 2014.
# 5 – Hearing Protection
I’ll be real honest… I don’t use hearing protection as often as I should. But when I do remember to use it, I prefer to put in my Walkers Electronic Earbuds. There’s no way I’m wearing ear muffs in the woods, so these nice compact earbuds do the trick! They amplify sounds so you can still hear really well while they are in, but it cuts out loud noises like gun shots. You can also bluetooth them to your phone and listen to an audiobook or music if you want!
# 6 – Jerk Cord and Decoys
I’ll let y’all in on a little secret. You don’t need 100 decoys when you’re hunting a hole in the timber. Most of the time a dozen or less is all you need. Heck, this year we started putting three hens on a jerk cord mainly for motion. You need movement in the decoys and since spinning wings are not allowed in certain areas and ducks have seen them from Canada all the way down… A good ole jerk cord is perfect. I like Tanglefree’s decoys because of their quality and bold identifiers.
# 7 – Tree Strap
For the longest time I just used a screw in tree hook, but a tree strap is another great option to hold your shotgun and bag above the water. This strap has three hooks so Grant and I can easily hang our guns and bag. Also, in some areas screw in tree hooks aren’t allowed so be sure and check the rules and regs for your area. With a strap, the only problem you might encounter is needing to be on a tree that is bigger around than your strap will reach. Simple fix – buy two straps and connect them! Also, make sure it is tight so your gun sling doesn’t get caught up on the hook. This can be very frustrating… ask my husband Grant.
# 8 – A Good Blind Bag
I feel like this is obvious, but not all blind bags are created equal. Three things you need to look for – durable/waterproof material, high quality zippers and strong buckles. All these things add up when deciding on a waterfowl bag. Personally, and trust me I’ve used a lot of bags in my 20 years of duck hunting, I like the Tanglefree GoTo Bag for basic gear. However, if I’m bringing my camera, I like to use the Sitka Full Choke Pack because it is waterproof and this pack actually has compartments for your camera gear. I always had so much anxiety when I would bring my DSLR camera duck hunting and now most of that is gone just from keeping it in a waterproof pack… and getting insurance on my camera. Would y’all be interested in a “what’s in my blind bag” blog?? Spoiler – snacksss
# 9 – Shotgun and Shells
Were you wondering if I was going to mention two of the most important pieces of gear for duck hunting? I mean if you’re into bird watching that’s cool too, but I like to watch the show and then pull the trigger. My family is very biased toward shotguns and not just any shotguns, but Beretta’s. In the woods I like to shoot the newer Beretta a400 Xtreme Plus or the a400 Lite. Remember how I said my family can be biased, well.. we aren’t toward shotgun shells. We pretty much shoot any shells, but my go-to loads are 3in #2’s. Once again, be sure and read through your state’s Hunting Guidebook to see if there is a shell limit in the area you will be hunting.
#10 – Navigation
Alright, we have finally made it to # 10! All this other gear isn’t going to be worth much if you can’t make it to your hole well before daylight or beat the other guys if you are hunting public land. A Garmin GPS is very important tool we use to navigate the river channels and timber. Last but not least… In case your electronics fail or die… please carry a compass with you and be aware of your surroundings! *Papa wants to add – remember moss grows on the North side of the tree.
Okay that does it for my top 10 duck hunting essentials!! Let me know if you think I missed something (which I definitely could have) because there are a lot of other things I could have added, but I didn’t want this blog to be any longer than it already is! Thanks so much for reading and I hope you found this information useful!
PS – I know this is obvious, but get your license, stamps and read the rules/regulations for your area before heading into the woods. Happy Hunting!