The Best in Waterfowl Hunting Gear
It’s an old expression that my dad picked up from somewhere and that I never heard the end of when I was a kid: Nothing good is ever cheap and nothing cheap is ever good. Quality won out over quantity at my house, which also directly translated to hunting gear, specifically waterfowl hunting gear.
Let’s face it, your hunt will only be as good as your hunting gear, no matter how much time you put in scouting or planning, it truly comes down to the waterfowl hunting gear you’re able to bring out in the field that really brings it all together.
We’re going to show you the best pieces of essential waterfowl hunting gear.
Yes, they work. No, it’s not magic or fluff. We won’t get into the age old, “are choke tubes worth it”, debate, not today at least. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.
When it comes to choke tubes there are TONS of options on the market. Finding the right set really comes down to what you shoot, both firearm and ammo, and at what distance you are doing so. For example, that close-range choke, wide open and spread out, is going to blow your pattern at anything over 25 yards.
With so many options on the market, picking one is hard, but I’ve been impressed with the Kicks High Flyer. It’s a ported choke, so it is a bit loud (your blind buddies are going to love it) and the improved recoil control and the long parallel design of the tube allow your spread to tighten, even at longer distances. I don’t ever advocate for sky busting, but I’ve seen some crazy long-distance shots made with the Kicks High Flyer choke in place. This waterfowl choke tube set stands out for its variation in range and its ease-of-use. Being able to install it without the need for tools is a huge positive, in addition to being able to quickly identify on the choke tube itself what range it’s meant for. It’s assistance in the recoil department that makes this a great choke tube, as well. You’ll be able to make follow-up shots more easily.
Federal has been in the ammunition business since 1922 so it’s safe to say they’ve been able to build their business on years of experience, knowledge, and expert know-how. No stranger to the waterfowl hunting market, Federal hit the market with their Black Cloud line of shells a few years back and it took the waterfowl hunting community by storm, no pun intended.
Federal updated the Black Cloud line of steel shotshells with the new Flitecontrol Flex wad. Its redesigned rear-opening petals now allow the wad to function properly when fired through ported and non-ported choke tubes, unlike the original Flitecontrol wad, which could only be reliably used in non-ported tubes. The end result is denser and deadlier patterns downrange.
Black Cloud features the duplex payload of 40 percent sharp-banded Flitestopper steel and 60 percent round steel pellets, providing high impact trauma and noticeable pattern density, respectively. We’ve had great success shooting mixed bags of ducks with Black Cloud #2’s, from the start of the season all the way through the final days.
You never fully realize just how much you need a floating gun case until the moment you actually do. A floating gun case makes sense in most any waterfowl hunting situation, from wading out in the refuge, to running the backwoods in the duck boat, protecting your firearm is essential.
The Flight Series Floating Gun Case from Tanglefree ensures your shotgun will stay afloat in the unfortunate event that it’s dropped in the water. Featuring a side Velcro opening for quick and easy access, the buckle system securely holds your shotgun in place. An adjustable shoulder strap and outside accessory pockets are a great addition to this floating gun case. Outfitted with enough closed cell foam padding to float up to 12lbs, this floating gun case is a must have and a relatively cheap insurance policy for your favorite shotgun.
Always a hotly contested topic, what you demand from your blind bag varies from waterfowler to waterfowler. Some guys need something they can haul to the boat ramp, while other guys need something they can hike five miles to their pintail hole with while carrying, or hauling, 50+ lbs of decoys, shotguns, and gear.
New for 2020, meet the Cabela’s Northern Flight Walk-In Blind Bag.
Made with rugged 600D nylon construction with water-resistant PU backing and water-resistant CMEVA bottom provides stellar protection for your waterfowl hunting gear. Featuring a heavy-duty, double shoulder harness with nonslip shoulder pads, the bag’s waist strap keeps the bag tight and stable against the body for easier hauling on long hikes to and from your blind. Speaking of hauling, the Northern Flight Walk-In Blind Bag hangs down on the lower back easily allowing you to carry an additional decoy bag or sling a Mojo backpack on your back without interference, a very handy feature for those long walks.
A spacious design utilizes a full-coverage, 1/2-moon lid system with a zippered mesh pocket on the underside. This lid offers full access to all of your waterfowl hunting supplies in a large main compartment, and the front zippered compartment features large organizational dividers to keep your waterfowl hunting gear dry and protected. The bag also sports a zippered waterproof pouch area that’s perfect for protecting your cell phone, key fobs, or other electronics. A dual-buckle rubberized-mesh pocket on the back of the bag has hook-and-loop closures for carrying your cased shotgun shells or extra clothing, and a drawstring-close side pocket keeps your thermos secure.
Rogers Sporting Goods is a very well-known brand in the waterfowler community. Not only do they offer the latest and greatest from the top hunting brands in the world, but they also have their own lines of clothing, waders, and gear.
Last season they were running a sale on their Rogers Toughman Tech Hoodie and I pulled the trigger not knowing exactly what I was going to be getting, considering it was a new release. Thankfully, Rogers didn’t disappoint, this hoodie is the real deal and it’s incredibly well thought out and designed.
Coming in at 10oz’s, it’s perfect for early season hunts on its own, yet roomy enough to allow for layering in late season. With a lower kangaroo pocket that’s spacious enough to hold whatever you might need, there’s also the addition of the upper hand warmer pocket that I didn’t know how much I appreciated until the first time I wore it. With thumb loop cuffs, and hood that allows for a great range of motion, the Rogers Toughman Tech Hoodie is a great choice for waterfowlers.
Another win for Rogers Sporting Goods, the Rogers Toughman Wader Pant is one of the best designed and sturdiest wader pants I’ve come across.
Designed to be worn under waders or bibs, the Rogers Toughman Wader Pants keep you comfortable, warm, and dry in the most adverse wading conditions. Featuring full size foot stirrups that keep the pants legs secure and locked in from riding up under your waders, you’re not going to have to worry about slippage with these.
If you’re wearing breathable waders these wader pants are an absolute must have. Not only do they create a barrier between your legs and the waders, but they can also easily be worn in-transit to and from the duck blind. Do yourself a favor and grab these while you can. Highly recommended!
If you’re looking for a powerful, hands-free headlamp lighting system, check out the Browning Blackout 6V Tactical Headlamp. Perfect for the refuge foot race or the club blind walk out, the powerful LED produces an incredible 860-lumen beam that can reach up to 185 yds. Need a little less light, you can notch it down with a click of a button and choose between 3 brightness settings and a soft green LED for stealth and better night vision.
One of the great features of this headlamp is that it’s waterproof! With up to 3 hours on high or 48 hours on low, this easily rechargeable headlamp is the perfect addition to your setup.
We just did a write up on The Best Duck Hunting Waders of 2020 which you can check out here. Personally, I’d recommend the Sitka Delta Wader.
Marketed as the last wader you’ll ever buy, every part of the Sitka Delta Wader is designed to be serviceable or replaceable, incredibly enough, including the boot.
Built with Gore-Tex Pro – these waders are as breathable and comfortable as they come. The legs of the Sitka Delta Waders are articulated which makes these particularly easy to walk in, no matter how loose or slippery the footing and the boots are extremely comfortable, supportive, and most importantly durable. I’d go as far as to say that I like the boots on these waders just as much as I like the boots on the Orvis SonicSeam’s.
The foot of this wader is the tried and true LaCrosse Aeroform insulated boot. The AeroForm radically changes what a rubber hunting boot can be by replacing the rubber shell with one made of durable, flexible, lightweight and insulating polyurethane. Designed for a high-speed low drag fit, the waterproof AeroForm is built for extra comfort and won’t weigh you down, while still being tough enough to stand up to unforgiving brush and briers.
Keep in mind the uppers are uninsulated so if you’re hunting in cold weather, you’re going to need some additional layers and make sure you’ve got a good pair of socks on if you’re in cold water.
Waterfowl decoys have come a long way in the past 100 years. Gone are the days of hand carved and hand painted decoys. For better or worse, technology caught up and manufacturers are able to produce a product that not only looks incredibly realistic but also holds up to the demands and rigors of waterfowl hunting.
Avian X offers an incredible catalog of decoys. Pretty much any species you can think of, they’ve made a decoy for it, and for an affordable price. Ultra-realistic paint schemes combine with the ultimate in paint adhesion and durability for the final word in waterfowl decoys.
With such an amazing array of products available to waterfowl hunters, we’re just scratching the surface with the gear and product offerings on the market. The essential pieces above are the mainstays of waterfowling and you’ll be well ahead of the pack by selecting any of them to bring out into the field with you.