essential duck hunting gear

Introduction

Every year, millions and millions of people look forward to engaging in the art of duck hunting. There is nothing more exciting than landing that perfect shot after all of your calling, decoy rigging, and patience.

However, it is crucial to make sure you haven’t forgotten your duck hunting gear to make sure you are well prepared. That is why we put together this list of must-have duck hunting gear, to make sure you are ready to properly hunt.

Continue reading to discover the essential duck hunting gear you must have for this waterfowl season.

10 Essential Pieces Of Duck Hunting Gear

essential duck hunting gear

Let’s get right to it! Below is the essential duck hunting gear that you need in order to have a great waterfowling season.

Keep in mind that this list is in no particular order, and you may find that your needs are different – but for most people, these are ten things that no waterfowler can live without.

1. Lots Of Duck Calls

DUCK COMMANDER Jase Robertson Pro Series Duck Call, Orange Acrylic
Every duck hunter knows that having proper duck calls is crucial to ensuring your success this hunting season. We are huge fans of Duck Commander Jase Robertson Pro Series Duck Call, which is a phenomenal double reed duck call that is durable and easy to blow.

It is up to you to decide whether you want to use a single reed or double reed duck call – for a beginner, a double reed is usually easier, but single reeds tend to have more variety.

You also need to decide if you are going to use a wood duck call or an acrylic duck call. Each has their merits – Wood creates a rich tone but it is more affected by moisture, while acrylic tends to be lower maintenance, louder, and unaffected by moisture. You also need to decide how many duck calls you are going to carry.

As a general rule of thumb, you need two if you are only hunting one area – a mallard call and a duck whistle. If you are hunting different areas in one day, we recommend carrying 2 mid-volume reed calls, 2 low-volume reed timber calls, and a duck call.

We always recommend bringing extras in case you lose one, or you find yourself with a non-working call.

2. High-Quality Waders

Frogg Toggs Amphib Neoprene Bootfoot Camo Chest Wader, Cleated Outsole, Realtree Max5, Size 10
Let’s be honest – chances are, you are going to be trekking through mud, ponds, flooded fields, and more to find mallards and ducks. Even if you are bringing along your trusted retriever, chances are you are still going to have to do some wading.

This is why investing in high-quality waders is crucial to staying dry and focused. We are huge fans of Frogg Toggs Amphib Neoprene Bootfoot Camo Chest Waders, which uses neoprene to ensure flexibility, while the design allows for deep wading. It also features a handwarmer pocket, reinforced knees, and insulated rubber boots.

3. Layout Blinds Or A-Frame Blinds

Wildfowler Big Man Layout Blind-Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades, Low Profile
When it comes to blinds, we are living in a golden age. There are all different sorts of options available to waterfowl hunters these days – layout blinds, a-frame blinds, panel blinds, and more. Layout blinds are common because they are versatile, easy to set up, and they keep you hidden.

A-frames are incredibly comfortable, and obviously, most can fit three or four people depending on the size, but they are much larger.

How do you decide whether or not to use a layout blind or an A-frame blind? The deciding factor is distance – if you shooting from further away, and you can get away with using a bigger structure such as an A-frame since most ducks have poor depth perception. If you are up close, layout blinds are the way to go.

If you are looking for a great layout blind, we recommend Wildfowler Big Man Layout Blind. If you need an A-Frame, we recommend Avian-X Zink A-Frame Blind. In reality, if you can pick up both a layout blind and a frame blind that is ideal since oftentimes different conditions will require different blinds.

4. A Floatable Blind Bag

ALPS OutdoorZ Delta Waterfowl Floating Deluxe Blind Bag
A crucial item that many novice hunters forget is a high-quality blind bag. A quality blind bag will keep all of your precious items protected during your hunt so you do not have to worry about them. Make sure you look for a blind bag that is big enough for your personal belongings and is waterproof. We are big fans of the Delta Waterfowl Floating Deluxe Blind Bag.

This blind bag uses non-absorbing cell foam, which makes it stay dry and float. It also includes a valuables pocket, a hard sunglass case, a LED light, and a variety of additional pockets to store your belongings. It is also camouflaged and made of high-quality materials.

5. Realistic Decoys

AvianX Top Flight Duck Open Water Mallard Decoy (6 Pack), Green
When it comes to picking decoys, it is important to make sure your ducks are as realistic. Many hunters skimp and go for low-quality decoys, but both drakes and hens are easily scared off. It is simply not worth it – make sure you get realistic decoys to ensure success.

We are big fans of Avian-X Top Flight Duck Open Water Mallard Decoys because they are incredibly realistic, durable, and mimic a natural swimming motion. You will also need a high-quality decoy rig, preferably one that is transportable and tangle-free, such as the MOJO Outdoors Texas Style Decoy Rig.

How many decoys should you use? It really comes down to the size of the body of water you are hunting. For smaller and blocked-off body’s of water, anywhere from 6 to 24 decoys should work. For larger bodies of water (and boat hunters), we have heard of people using hundreds of decoys.

In most situations, the more the merrier – rarely have we heard of an instance where too many decoys hurt the chances of a successful hunt.

You also must consider the size of the decoy bag, and if you have to carry the decoys. Most people can carry 12-18 decoys without it being too much of a hassle, but you need to test this out yourself. Regardless, we recommend always having extra decoys whenever possible in case you lose one, one gets damaged, etc. Pick up a few packs of the Avian-X Top Flight Duck Open Water Mallard Decoys and see how they treat you.

6. A Decoy Bag To Carry Your Realistic Decoys

SPLASH Long Haul Decoy Bag, Camo/Stone
 

Choosing a decoy bag may seem like a straightforward process, but there are a couple choice things you really need to consider. The first is how it fits in with the rest of your hunting gear, and how you are going to carry it.

We prefer using a decoy bag that has shoulder straps, which makes it feel like a standard backpack. This allows us to carry the decoys on our back, which leaves are arms free to carry the blind bag without hassle.

The second thing you need to consider is how many decoys your decoy bag can carry. We always recommend purchasing a decoy bag that has room for extra decoys if you ever decide to pick them up. This is why we are fans of SPLASH Long Hall Decoy Bag.

The bag has room for up to four dozen decoys, has a gun holster, and uses a double strap system to keep your hands free. It also includes additional back support, which makes even the heaviest decoy setup easier to carry.

7. Top-Of-The-Line Camo Jacket Or Pullover

Wildfowler Outfitter Men's Wild Grass Waterproof Insulated Parka
A solid waterfowling jacket provides innumerable benefits to even the most seasoned, hardened hunter. A jacket like the Wildfowler Outfitter Performance Camo Hunting Insulated Parka will keep you dry and warm, while also preventing drakes and hens from spotting you due to high-quality camouflage.

We always recommend buying a size that is slightly bigger, so you can wear additional layers underneath if need be. This also allows you to move about more freely.

8. Camo Hat/Face Mask To Keep You Hidden

QuikCamo Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades Camouflage Cap, Hat, with Hunting Face Mask Combination (Duck's Unlimited Official Waterfowl Pattern) (60cm)
As we have mentioned previously in this article, ducks and hens can easily get scared off by even the faintest recognition of a predator. We are huge fans of the QuikCamo Camouflage Hat With Hunting Face Mask, because it does exactly that: stops waterfowl from being able to identify you.

Notably, it also protects your face from the sun, which is a great added benefit. We are also big fans of the connected face mask – when you are scouting or headed to your location, simply bunch it up and wear it on your head, and then once you have arrived you can put the face mask on.

This is great because it’s one less thing you have to carry around in your blind bag, and also one less thing to forget.

9. Hand Warmers With Added Features

ALPS OutdoorZ Delta Waterfowl Deluxe Hand Warmer
There is nothing worse than having freezing cold hands during the middle of your hunt. We recommend using Delta Waterfowl Deluxe Hand Warmer, which is a top-of-the-line handwarmer system that uses a fleece liner to retain heat.

This specific hand warmer comes with a number of great features – it clips around your waist, but can also attach to waders if you are in high water. Additionally, it has extra shell pockets on the front for quick reloading, and an inside pocket to store extra gear.

We definitely recommend investing in a high-end hand warmer, you will not regret it. Many novice waterfowlers overlook the importance of using a hand warmer and have a miserable season because of it.

10. Your Weapon Of Choice

essential duck hunting gear

Last but not least, you need your weapon of choice. There are many things you need to consider when choosing a waterfowl shotgun, including the gauge, chamber length, barrel length, and action length. Most people use a 12 gauge because of its numerous advantages over old-fashioned 16 gauges which used to be the standard.

Many novice hunters also use 20 gauges. When it comes to the chamber length, the 3-inch chamber is the standard, although other options exist as well. When it comes to versatility, a 28-inch barrel is paramount, although many hunters use 30-inch barrels and 26-inch as well.

When it comes to picking what type of action is best, a double barrel is the standard for most waterfowl hunters.

What Other Essential Duck Hunting Gear Should I Bring?

We just covered the essential big-ticket items, but there are also a number of small things that you shouldn’t forget when you go duck hunting. Zip ties are paramount – really, you can use them for almost anything, so keep a large number of them on hand. The same goes for carabiners and tarred twine.

It is also important to bring extra sunscreen and mosquito repellent, and a few extra hand warmers for those extra cold days. Batteries, flashlights, snacks, and fluids are also important. And if you have one, a retriever makes for some great company and can keep you from getting too wet.

Conclusion

There you have it! Our list for the essential duck hunting gear you simply can not live without. We hope you have enjoyed reading this article, and we hope you have learned about this must have duck hunting gear. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or ideas. Have a fantastic duck hunting season.

Lover of hiking, nature, camping, bird calls, and more. I run ATO and do my best to provide interesting information for my readers to help make their outdoor adventures more fun.