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Duck Hunting Necessities: What You Need (and Don’t) for a Duck Hunt

Duck hunting is straight-up, tons of fun. But from the outside looking in, it can appear like you need piles of gear, a boat, and a retriever to even get started. There are, for sure, some absolute duck-hunting necessities. But many other items fall under either “nice to have” or “will eventually have” once you gain more experience.

Keep that money in the bank (for now) and focus on the basics for your first waterfowl hunting season. You can pick up more gear along the way as you learn.

Let’s take a look at what you need to put some ducks on the ground.

Duck Hunting Necessities and Non-Essentials

Shotgun: A necessary tool of the trade if you want to shoot a duck. Buy your own 12- or 20-gauge with corresponding choke tubes or borrow one if your state gun laws allow it.

Gun Case: If you have a shotgun, it should have a case! A case will keep your gun protected from mud, debris, and the elements. Depending on the state, it could be legally required.

Waders: These could be optional if you are hunting a dry field. But if you’re going to be in the water, pick up a pair. Neoprene waders will keep you dry and warm in cold weather.

Face Camo: A face mask goes a long way in taking the “humanness” out of your profile.

Waterfowl I.D. Guide: A field guide will be your best friend while you’re learning to I.D birds both on the ground and in flight.

Snacks and Drinks: Vital, especially if you have kids! You can never have too much food and drink.

Non-Toxic Shot: Gotta have ammo. Non-toxic steel shot is effective, legal, and easier on the wildlife we love to hunt.

Decoys: Depending on how and where you hunt, you may not need them. If you do, borrowing a few is best until you can acquire your own.

Backpack or Blind Bag: You should have something to carry extra ammo, snacks, drinks, phones, and other loose, easily lost items.

Licenses and Stamps: Don’t forget your tags, licenses, and federal duck stamps! You won’t be able to hunt without them.

Gloves: Cold fingers stink. Gloves will keep your hands warm and give you full camo coverage. You definitely want these on just about every hunt.

Knife or Multitool: You always need a knife. A multi-tool will give you more versatility. This is exactly why Tim Leatherman developed one when he was in the same boat.

Camo Outerlayer: No need to worry about what it looks like underneath. But make sure you have good matching camo for the area you’re hunting. Rainproof outer layers make for a dryer and happier day.

Personal Flotation Device: If any part of your duck hunt involves a boat, you need a life jacket.

Calls: For your first hunts, you’ll probably do more damage calling than not calling. Learn the language by observing birds first to build an understanding of when and how to call. When hunting with HD Guide service, we will handle the calling for you!

Duck Dog: After a few seasons of running after downed birds, you’ll understand the value of a good retrieving dog. But unless you are ready for such a big commitment don’t worry about it. It’s a lifestyle.