If you’re new to hunting waterfowl, you may be wondering what items you need to hunt ducks and geese. In this review, we’ll take a look some of the top waterfowl gear you need to be able to be a successful duck hunter in 2021.
The top items you need to hunt waterfowl are a dependable shotgun, hunting waders, hunting license, and duck decoys. These items are the backbone to being able to hunt waterfowl effectively. Below are the top 14 items every hunter needs to hunt waterfowl.
1) Waterfowl Shotgun
A shotgun is one of the few legal means of harvesting waterfowl in the United States. Because of this, you need a dependable shotgun to be able to harvest ducks and geese.
Popular waterfowl shotguns can be found in 20 gauge all the way up to 10 gauge, with 12 gauge being the most widely used. A dependable shotgun is one of the most important pieces of waterfowl hunting equipment you need.
2) Hunting Waders
Waterfowl hunting is conducted in the winter and in wet conditions. Staying dry is important since being cold and miserable will ruin your hunt.
A good pair of duck hunting waders will keep you dry while setting out decoys and picking up birds. They will also keep you warm in sub-freezing temperatures, wind, and rain. Click here to check out my top duck hunting wader picks.
3) Duck Decoys
Waterfowl decoys help get the birds attention and draw them to you. Without duck decoys, you’re reliant on finding a flight path for pass shooting or hoping to be in the right place at the right time. Success can be very sporadic without decoys.
The decoys you choose should be geared toward the species of birds you will be hunting. Quality and quantity of the decoys you’ll be using should also be taken into consideration.
4) Shotgun Ammo
A waterfowl shotgun is useless without the right ammo. Steel shot is the cheapest waterfowl ammo available and #6 shot up to #3 shot make for good shot sizes for ducks.
The most widely used 12 gauge shotgun shells come in 2 ¾ and 3 inch sizes. Each work well for duck hunting, but the 3 inch shells can be loaded with more shot. A good all-around duck load is the 12ga 3 inch load of #3 shot. Check out our shot size chart to see popular pellet sizes.
5) Hunting Lease or Public Hunting Area
In order to hunt waterfowl, you need to have a place to hunt. The most popular places to hunt waterfowl are private leases or public hunting areas like WMA’s and Federal Refuge Areas.
You can also find places to hunt by receiving permission from landowners who own the property that waterfowl are using. With this method, you can find unpressured birds and maybe even get to hunt for free. You can read up more on types of leases and how to find them here.
6) Waterfowl Blind Bag
A blind bag is important because it can help protect all your gear from the elements. From your cell phone, to your wallet, all the items you don’t want getting wet need to be protected.
A blind bag does this efficiently and provides an easy way to carry all your waterfowl hunting accessories to the blind. Check out my review of some of the newest blind bags from Drake and others here.
7) Waterproof Camo Jacket
Having a dependable set of waders goes hand and hand with a good waterfowl jacket. Not only will a good jacket provide warmth and protection from wind and rain, it will also camouflage your upper body so waterfowl don’t see you.
GORTEX is a popular breathable material used in most waterfowl jackets due to its versatility across a wide range of conditions.
8) Hunting License and Duck Stamp
In order to hunt migratory waterfowl in the United States, you need a hunting license from the state you will be hunting in. These can be found at most sports and outdoor stores and consist of a license and waterfowl stamp fee which are good for the entire year.
In addition to hunting licenses, some states also require Hunters Education and other requirements you must obtain before you can hunt waterfowl. These should all be researched to make sure you have the correct paperwork should a Game Warden check you while out in the field.
9) Waterfowl Identification Book
You should always know what you’re shooting at before you pull the trigger, and a waterfowl ID book will help you identify birds on the wing. Bag limits allow you to take only a certain number of individual species of waterfowl, so if you can’t tell them apart, you risk going over your limit and being fined.
The LeMaster Guide to Waterfowl Identification is a great book for the novice waterfowler looking to increase their knowledge of each species of duck or geese they may encounter. It also makes a good gift idea for duck hunters just learning the sport.
10) Duck or Goose Call
The last item you need to hunt waterfowl is a duck or goose call. A waterfowl call can help you get the birds attention and coax them into your decoy spread for a close shot.
Calling is only as effective as the practice you put in to learn the calling methods and sounds of the species that you will be hunting. Your first hunt is not the place to learn how to call ducks and will likely do more harm than good. Leave the call at home until your proficient enough to use it.
11) Hunting Cap
A dependable hunting cap can help shield the sun from your eyes, keep your head warm, and reduce face glare. These are pretty important aspects that you need on your side to be successful at duck hunting, so make sure your hat is up to par.
Duck hunting caps and hats come in all different sizes, shapes, and camo options. Choose one that is comfortable to wear for long days in the field and won’t interfere with shouldering a shotgun.
12) Face Mask or Paint
The glare of the sun shining on faces can be seen from miles away. Ducks won’t come close and you may even get sunburn. The best solution is to get a full headed facemask to blend in as much as possible.
Another option is to buy a camo face paint kit and use it on your face, cheeks, and any areas that can reflect sunlight. This usually works just fine and removes the bulkiness of having to wear a facemask.
Duck hunting involves arriving early to set out decoys in the dark before sunrise. A good headlight is worth its weight in gold when you have to untangle decoy line and weights at night.
Petzel makes some of the best headlamps and is my personal favorite.
14) Duck Strap
If you shoot a lot of ducks, you have to haul them out of the field. Rather than fumble around with a lot of loose birds, organize the with a bird strap for easy handling.
Duck straps have loops and a carrying strap that makes walking with a bunch of ducks really easy. Simply put a head or leg in the loop and then throw the strap over your shoulder. A good duck strap will make getting out of the field a breeze.
In this review, we’ve listed the top 14 items you need for waterfowl hunting. These items are essential to having a successful and memorable waterfowl hunting experience.
A dependable 12 gauge shotgun will allow you to harvest birds cleanly and effectively. A good pair of waders will keep you dry and warm in even the harshest winter conditions.
Quality duck decoys will help you get the birds attention and bring them close to you. Steel shotgun shell ammo from #6 shot to #3 shot will give you the pattern density and power to harvest ducks cleanly.
Finding a hunting lease or public area to hunt is essential for becoming familiar with the area. A blind bag will help you carry all your essential gear like ammo, cell phone, calls, and ammo to the blind securely.
A waterproof hunting jacket will provide protection from the elements and help you blend into your surroundings. You must have a hunting license to hunt waterfowl in the U.S., so make sure you go to a sporting goods store to obtain one before you go out into the field and have it on you at all times.
Studying waterfowl identification with the help of books like LeMaster will make sure you know what you’re shooting at. Duck and goose calls can help get birds attention from afar and help bring them into your decoy spread.
With these waterfowl hunting tips, you’ll be able to get the gear you need and be successful at harvesting ducks and geese. If you’re focusing more on goose hunting, check out my top 10 tips for hunting geese that I’ve compiled from decades of trial and error.