You don’t need every piece of duck hunting gear to start duck hunting, you just need the essentials. Also, there are different ways to hunt ducks. The duck hunting gear you will need will vary depending on the type of duck hunting you’re doing.
For this reason, this article not only covers the must-have duck hunting gear to get started. It also covers optional duck hunting gear that isn’t necessarily essential, but that is often worth having.
Essential Duck Hunting Gear
Hunting License & Waterfowl Stamp
Can’t duck hunt without these!!
Duck Hunting Shotgun
The quintessential tool for ducks hunters is a shotgun. There are some specs that you should be aware of when buying a duck hunting shotgun. These specs are:
For duck hunting having a longer barrel is nice because it helps you swing through the shot instead of just pointing and aiming. A 28-inch barrel length is a good option for duck hunters.
Choke tubes are screwed into shotgun barrels in order to increase or decrease shot-pattern density. They’re helpful because you can adjust your shot pattern depending on the distance you expect to be shooting.
They’re also helpful for duck hunting because are hardier than upland birds, especially when they get their full plumage. A modified choke tube is a good option for duck hunting because it’s effective from roughly 20-40 yards. You can change choke tubes to change your effective range.
Carlson choke tubes are well-known for waterfowlers. They use triple-shot technology (TST) in which makes the shotgun pellet spread-rate release more gradually than other choke tubes on the market for longer range shooting.
The chamber of your shotgun is also important. For example, if you have a 12 ga shotgun but it can only shoot 2 3/4-inch shotgun shells, that is going to greatly limit your shot opportunities. Instead, I would get a shotgun that can handle up to 3.5-inch shells. This was you can use any 12 ga shotgun shell from 2 3/4-inches up to 3.5-inches giving you the maximum flexibility out of your shotgun.
Non-Toxic Shotgun Shells
For duck hunting, you can’t use lead shot because it pollutes the environment. There are many steel and metal blends of shot you can buy.
Best Shotgun Shell Size For Duck Hunting
The best shotgun shell size will depend on your specific hunting scenario. That said, a 3.5-inch #2 is a good all-around shotgun shell for duck hunting from 20-40 yards with steel shot.
If you use heavier ammo like Hevi-Shot which is heavier than lead and is made of tungsten, nickel, iron, and other alloys, you don’t need such a big bullet and could get away with 3-inch #4 or #6. The reason for this is a heavier bullet will have better penetration and knock-down power.
Water Resistant Ammo Box
An ammo box provides storage and protection for duck hunting ammunition. The hard plastic is durable and the box makes a good seat if needed. The box is water waterproof, it can handle any weather event. It just can’t be submerged underwater. You can use it as a seat when duck hunting and throw a cushion on top for additional comfort.
Duck Hunting Decoys
Decoys are almost always a necessary tool for duck hunters unless you’re jump-shooting because they attract ducks into shooting range. You don’t need a lot of decoys to start off but a dozen is a good place to start.
Duck calls are an essential piece of duck hunting gear because sound adds realism to your decoy setup which helps get more ducks to believe in your decoy spread and come in for a closer look. Haydel’s Deceiver call is an excellent call for both beginners and experienced hunters. The best part is they’re so confident you’ll like it they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Chest Waders for Duck Hunting
Waders are great for marshes and swamps that are too deep for knee-highs or hip boots. They come in handy for duck retrieval, placing decoy spreads, and other duck hunting applications where the water is shallow enough to wade in.
This jacket is made specifically for duck hunters. It is a waterproof and GoreTex breathable jacket that is uninsulated so that hunters can keep layering clothes under this jacket as the hunting season progresses and gets colder. It is designed to keep waterfowl hunters dry throughout the entire hunting season. SITKA Gear makes high-quality and well-thought-out clothing specifically for hunters. This jacket even has a built-in duck call lanyard.
Duck Hunting Headlamp
A headlamp is an essential piece of duck hunting gear because lights are a must in the dark mornings and evenings. A headlamp keeps both hands free so you can carry other equipment and focus on the task at hand. Just don’t skimp on a good headlamp because cheap ones will break or stop working.
One of the most important pieces of duck hunting gear is hearing protection. Keeping the ears protected during repeated shooting is essential for hearing longevity. If you know someone who needs a good pair of hearing protection they’ll appreciate it, and even more so in the long term.
The Howard Leight earmuffs are great because they an adjustable amplification knob so you can still have conversations. However, as soon as the noise is too loud, the headphones will block it.
Duck Boat or Canoe
If the water is too deep to wade through with chest waders then you’re going to need a boat or canoe to set decoys and retrieve ducks. These Old Town Discovery 119 canoes are great single-person canoes because they are small and light making them easily transportable for one person.
Camo Life Jacket
If you’re going to be hunting by boat a life jacket is an essential piece of duck hunting gear for safety.
Optional But Useful Duck Hunting Gear
These Lacrosse boots are insulated to keep feet warm, have a nice tight ankle fit for great mobility, and don’t roll your ankle. Also, these boots have button-style traction which works better in the muck and mud.
Sunglasses are a staple for duck hunters. Waterfowl tends to be flying in the sky, and the sky is usually bright, even on cloudy days. In addition, the sun and sky reflecting off the water are also bright. Having quality sunglasses will keep you from getting headaches after staring into the sky all day.
12-Slot Decoy Bags
The ability to carry a dozen decoys at once is a blessing when traveling back and forth from hunting spots. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your hands or shoulders maxed out with decoys and not able to carry anything else. A single large bag allows duck hunters to free their hands up for more equipment.
These bags are also great because they separate decoys into individual slots so that they don’t get scratched up during transport. This keeps decoys in good condition for much longer than the decoys bags where you just stuff all decoys together.
Floating Gun Case With Shoulder Strap
It’s nice to have a gun case that will float if you drop your gun into the water. But another great benefit of having a gun case is the shoulder strap. A shoulder strap allows you to free your hands up when carrying equipment so you can carry more gear at one time.
Duck Hunting Decoy Gloves
Neoprene waterproof gloves keep hands dry when handling decoys. This can be critical when temperatures are cold, otherwise, the remainder of the hunt may be very uncomfortable with freezing hands.
Duck Call Lanyard
A duck call lanyard is worn around the neck for easy accessibility to different calls. Different species of waterfowl make different noises and having quick access to the right call at the right time is key.
A Mojo duck decoy is a helpful piece of duck hunting gear because the spinning wings from this motorized decoy can be seen and attract ducks from farther distances than regular decoys. The Mojo gives ducks confidence in a decoy spread, making them commit harder offering more opportunities and better shots.
Duck Dog Vehicle Seat Cover
Waterfowl hunting and training with a duck dog is usually wet, muddy, brushy, stinky, and messy. Seat covers keep the pup safe and keep the vehicle clean, especially after duck hunting trips.
This definitely one of the top pieces of duck hunting gear because every duck hunter needs and wants dry boots. There is nothing more uncomfortable than damp or wet boots the next day. Damp or wet boots will also speed up getting frozen toes.
Instead, just place boots on this dryer after a day of hunting and they’ll be toasty and dry for the next day. Boot dryers also kill odors and bacteria for even more scent control. This Peet boot dryer can dry every type of boot, even chest waders when folded down.
This 14 in 1 tool is not only convenient but it manages to reduce a lot of frustration when things go awry or fall apart. There will be times when the leatherman will save the day when doing repairs while out duck hunting. Their helpfulness in unideal situations makes them one of the best duck hunting gear items.
Hunting Seat Cushion
Seat cushions are helpful for duck hunters to be comfortable for sitting most of the day. This cushion isn’t your average hunting cushion. It uses layers of memory foam in order to create a very comfortable seat. It has quiet fabric and a buckle so it can be easily carried when in transport.
An actual seat is much more comfortable and will be easier on a hunter’s back than being hunched over. Additionally, you’ll be able to see over the tall marsh grass without being fully exposed to waterfowl.
Waterproof Duffle Bag
Waterproof duffle bags are very handy pieces of duck hunting gear to have in wetland duck habitats. They can be used on long hunting trips, or to keep gear dry in the duck boat, as well as an infinite amount of other scenarios where water is a factor. With a waterproof bag, there is no need to worry about the elements.
Athlon Midas Binoculars (Best Value Binoculars)
Binoculars can be helpful for scouting for ducks and for duck identification at longer distances. I tested 14 different binoculars from all price ranges to see which hunting binoculars were the best value for the money. In my opinion, the Athlon Midas binoculars were by far the best value. You can check out my video review below:
You can stay hidden in plain sight by laying down in a field inside one of these. The ALPS OutdoorZ Legend Layout Blind is comfortable, waterproof, and easily transportable. What separates the ALPS from other layout blinds is that is has a specially designed chair “zero gravity” that makes laying on the ground very comfortable.
Hopefully, this duck hunting gear list has helped you identify the essentials you’ll need for duck hunting as well as some non-essential gear that will make your life easier when duck hunting. What duck hunting gear do you think should be added? If you have any suggestions let me know in the comments below.