What to Wear on Your Next Duck Hunt
Whether it’s your first time duck hunting, or you’ve been hunting ducks for years, we want you to know one thing from this article – what you wear matters.
Few things ruin a duck hunt quicker than being wet and cold (forgetting your gun or shells is actually right up there as well). The correct attire is crucial for an enjoyable and successful duck hunt.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to dress for the occasion and make the most of your time chasing greenheads!
Why Proper Hunting Attire Matters
First things first, let’s talk about why dressing properly matters.
Let’s keep it simple… being cold and wet is not just uncomfortable, it can also be very dangerous as well. Whether you hunt out of a boat, in a rice field, natural marsh or timber – proper gear and attire matters for safety, comfort and success.
Dressing for Success – How to Dress For a Duck Hunt
The key to dressing for success is layering. Layering allows you to adjust your clothing to changing weather conditions, keeping you comfortable and prepared. I had a neighbor that rode a Harley Davidson nearly every day, and I’d always see him wearing a sweatshirt and a large jacket – even on warm sunny days. I asked him why he wore so many layers and his response resonates with me to this day, he said – “It’s easier to take an extra layer that you’re wearing off when it’s hot than to put an extra layer on that you don’t have when it’s cold.”
Wear your layers.
Besides having a waterproof outer layer, your base layer is the most important layer to consider. You’ll want to start with a moisture-wicking base layer, like a long-sleeved shirt and pants made of wool or synthetic fabrics that can help regulate your body temperature but also not trap any moisture. You might have to try a few different base layers out until you find the right one that works for you. Heck, I have a few of them for different parts of the season.
For your mid-layer, consider a fleece or even a down jacket or vest. The mid-layer is often times the most discarded layer while you are hunting. Your mid-layer should provide insulation and keep you warm without being too bulky. After years of going back and forth with my mid-layer, I finally switched to the banded heated jacket. When it’s too cold, I push the power button and it warms right up. It’s a pretty good option, but feel free to try different options! Remember, it’s easier to take something off when you’re hot, than to try and put someone on that you don’t have when you’re cold.
Finally, top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. This last layer will do all the protecting for you – protection from the wind and the rain. Don’t forget to match your environment. There are tons of different camo patterns out these days like the old school duck camo, Max-5, Max-7, Bottomland and even the ultra-new sitka or first lite patterns. Grab something that won’t stand out, will keep you dry and cut the wind – you’ll be good to go.
Duck Hunting Essentials
Aside from layering, there are several other essential items you’ll definitely want/need as you brave the early mornings in a duck blind.
Waders are a must-have if you’re planning to hunt in or near the water. These days, you can find waders at nearly every price point. One thing you should know – the only requirement of waders is that they keep you dry. There are two major types of waders that you’ll want to consider: Neoprene waders and Breathable style waders.
Neoprene Waders – These are made from neoprene and provide extra warmth as opposed to their breathable counterparts.
You can get Neoprene waders in different thickness, but we should tell you – they can be more cumbersome than their counterparts and again… layers matter. You can’t take off your waders no matter how hot you get while sitting in the water waiting for whistling pintails to drop from the heavens.
There is something to say about neoprene waders in how they can keep you warm though. One of our own Hunt Bums team members ONLY hunts in neoprene waders no matter how hot it is because he runs cold all the time and he’d rather be too hot than too cold.
Breathable Waders – These waders are made from a lightweight, waterproof material. Some breathable waders come with optional insulation, while most do not.
Breathable waders are great for places that are a little warmer for most of the season, but you have to get your layers right. It should be noted that breathable waders are typically easier to walk in and are lighter overall.
I wear breathable waders all season long, usually starting out with lighter layers in October and then I bring out heavier layers as it gets colder and deeper into the season.
Headwear is important for two reasons – it helps to keep your head covered (and camouflaged), and depending on what you wear – it helps to keep your head and/or ears warm while on a hunt. I prefer a good hat that also keeps the sun out of my eyes, but I do lose out on the warmth factor.
Gloves or mittens will protect your hands from the cold. I don’t wear gloves while shooting, but definitely like to wear them while picking up decoys or travelling to and from the blind. Nothing says cold like a boat ride in December without gloves on.
We mentioned it earlier, but don’t forget to choose the right camouflage to blend in with your surroundings! You want to stay hidden from ducks as best as possible.
There are tons of options for all different budget types.
Old-timers have hunted in brown tones for years and years, and it definitely still works. Though technology is a wonderful tool if you use it correctly – and there are some great patterns to help blend you into a variety of surroundings now.
Check out the forever faithful Realtree Max-5, Mossy Oak bottomland, or even the old-school duck camo that Browning has to offer. If you like high dollar stuff, go ahead and take a look at the Sitka Marsh and Timber pattern gear.
In conclusion, dressing correctly for a duck hunt is vital for an enjoyable experience. If I can shoot ducks while cold or comfortable – I’m choosing comfortable all the way.
With the right clothing and gear – you can stay warm, comfortable, and safe throughout your hunt.
So, check the weather forecast, dress in layers, and choose the right clothing for you style of hunting. We hope this guide helps you make the most of your next duck hunting trip!