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What do I Need for Duck Hunting?

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Duck hunting is seen by many people as the hardest form of hunting because it requires the use of many accessories. Also, the stringent regulations guiding it could be discouraging for newbies.

Other problems that are likely to come up during duck hunting might include the placement of decoys, knowledge of the types of duck before taking your shot and the tools needed for the hunt. These problems must be solved before you can have a successful duck hunting exercise in the wild.

Photo Credit: Hagerty Ryan, Pixnio.com

This article will put you through the basic tools you need to embark on duck hunting and the knowledge of this will help you in having a great hunting experience. Below is a list of the tools in their order of importance.

Duck Decoys

What is a duck decoy ?

A duck decoy is an artificial object which has the semblance of a real duck. It is used in duck hunting to attract real ducks to a location. There is a huge possibility that you can kill a good number of ducks without using a decoy and this has led to a reduction in the price of decoys in the market.

On average, you will need a minimum of twelve decoys before you commence your hunting expedition. When you are uncertain about the kind of duck you are likely to see, buying mallard decoys might just be your best shot.

Mallard decoys improve your chances of killing any duck in the wild. Getting a mallard decoy is quite easy as there are many firms that produce decoys presently like Flambeau and other firms that produce cheap decoys. With your decoys, you have increased chances of killing different kinds of ducks including green-headed drakes and other half drab hens.

Before you proceed to the forest on duck hunting, you need to get all twelve of the decoys handy. However, if you have a slim budget that cannot accommodate the cost of duck decoys you can borrow from other hunters or go for cheaper secondhand decoys in the market.

Getting secondhand decoys will only demand that you take some time to fix them and get them ready for use. After that, use a potholer container to move the decoys into the wild for duck hunting.

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What is a wader?

Waders are long rubber boots usually won by fishermen or duck hunters that cover all of the legs when they are standing in water. Basically, waders are one of the most important tools you need for duck hunting and you have to purchase large double neoprene chest waders and not hip waders for duck hunting.

This is because chest waders function properly in deep and shallow waters respectively. They also have the capacity to cover the whole body and ensure that no water enters the body while also keeping it fairly hot.

Your budget determines the quality of hunting waders you are likely to go for but the most terrible feeling you will experience while hunting duck is allowing water to enter your body. To avoid this, you have to purchase a boot-foot type of waders with a big tread that offers adequate grasp and balance.

Neoprene chest waders are the most outstanding waders in the market presently. They come with features that withstand puncture and also has strong knees. The Neoprene chest waders ensures high protection for the user and you are sure not to worry about getting wet during the hunt.

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A twelve-gauge shotgun is the recommended gun for duck hunting although most duck hunters prefer semi-automatics and pumps. Semi-automatic guns are a wonderful choice for hunting because the only thing you have to do is to draw the trigger and fire. But, the greatest advantage of pumps is that they do not miss their target even during harsh weather situations.

Duck hunters don’t always go for double-barreled shotguns because they come with two shells. When you are using semi-automatics and pumps for hunting, try and examine the magazine before you set out in order to ascertain if there is a plug in it.

The general rules on duck hunting outline that most shells in a shotgun must be three. That is, two in the magazine and one in the chamber, which is filled in the duck hunting guns. Even though 12 gauge is the most preferred gun for duck hunting. 20-gauge guns are mostly used by youths and ladies while the 10-gauge shotguns are commonly used by goose professionals.

The most important thing about shotguns is that you can kill a very quick-flying duck with it. One gun that is ahead of the shotgun is a choke.

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Getting the right ammunition is also a key factor to consider in duck hunting. You can use lead shot, the steel shot, or other forms of non-toxic shotshells. Many of the non-toxic types like bismuth and tungsten increase velocity and have better-striking impacts than steel shot.

When your gun has three and a half shell, it means that the gun is adequate for the hunting of geese. However, when you are hunting duck that is in a close range, a 3 inch will kill the duck without any difficulty.

In terms of shot vastness, we will suggest 4 shots. But when you want to kill a goose, two shots will be the best option. If you have been hunting for a good number of years, you will find out that you will get used to a specific shot that gives you results in terms of getting big kills in the wild.


If your aim is to hunt in marshes, then wear a brown, grass-like design. When you are hunting duck in a wooded place, you have to wear a bark or leafy design. These designs look like the design of a bowhunter’s camouflage.

Wear a long sleeve shirt with a layered water-resistant parka system when you are hunting duck. It enables hunters to switch the layers on or off and still be hidden in the presence of atmospheric changes. Duck hunters always have their water-resistant hat and gloves on.

When you want to buy hats, go for the ones with a visor. This is particularly important because it will help you to ward off the hot sun or heavy snows. Always hide your face with a Camo face mask because even if your whole body is covered with camouflage but your face is open, the bucks can easily see the face and it will make them fly far away from your range.

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Duck Call

What is a duck call

A duck call is the sound imitation process the hunter uses to lure ducks to his target location for a kill. The newbies in duck hunting probably think that the most effective way to use a duck call is to leave it in the truck.

However, if you are a pro in scouting, you won’t have a total need for duck calls as ducks and geese will be attracted to the spread on their own.

To be an expert in duck call, you can get the track online as an MP3. This method will give you a vast knowledge of calling ducks, even when you are doing something else. This will appear strange to those that are not familiar with duck hunting while those that are into the trade will appreciate your effort.

Another method is to discover if there is shallow water that has ducks in your neighborhood. You can occasionally halt your walk to understand how ducks make their sound. Try to reproduce it for some time to ensure that you are perfect in a duck call.

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Five Critical Accessories

The above basic tools are very important in your hunt for ducks in the wild. If you apply them properly, be sure to go home with many ducks at the end of the day. This section will show you the other tools that might be needed to ensure that your duck hunting is successful, relaxed and easy. Some of them include:  

Headlamp: Most duck hunters hunt more at night. Buy affordable headlamps that will ensure that will illuminate the environment while sitting well on your head. You can now use your hands to place the decoys and set other gears in anticipation of the first firing light.

Neoprene Gloves: When the duck hunting reaches an advanced stage and the water is cold, put on a pair of water-resistant neoprene gloves that will help you to carry out the functions of the decoy.

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Head Net: A hunting camouflage will cover every part of your body except the face. Buy a head net and use it on your face. Duck hunters like to look up the sky and observe the ducks. So, the head net helps you to do this.

Game Strap: After killing the ducks in the forest, a game strap will assist you to carry the duck back home.

Marsh Pole: Duck hunters walk from one place to another. So staying steady can a very difficult issue. Marsh pole of any kind will assist the hunter to incline on a platform, be steady and start firing the shotguns.

Duck Hunting Tips for Beginners

Hone Your Skills  

When your hunting gear is ready, the next thing for you to do is to improve on your duck hunting skills. Avoid going into the forest when you are not ready because you will not make any kills or you might just be breaching the laws regulating duck hunting.

Also, make sure you know how to use the hunting gun. Check the chokes and know how the gun works in various ranges. There is a little difference in the automatic shotgun and knowing this is very important so you don’t end up missing your target.

When your guns are ready, the next thing is to start training in any shooting club that is in your neighborhood. Try to master shooting with both hands. This skill will help you to kill birds even when you are inside water. At the end of this, train for skeet shooting. When clays are in your view and you have to kill the birds, skeet shooting helps to place your shotgun and fire at your targets.

Also, know the duck species. When you are preparing to hunt ducks make sure you are aware of the species and sexes so that you will not violate the laws regulating their hunting. Different species have a number of kills you have to get per day. So, if you go beyond this limit, you will pay a serious fine.

The most confusing issue in duck hunting is that some ducks that are protected by law are in the same water with your prey. When you kill them, it will cause you to lose your hunting license. It is very important for you to know your ducks before you start hunting.

Where to Duck Hunt

You have to organize and have the necessary information about the particular wild you will be hunting the ducks. Novices in duck hunting always prefer hunting in public forests. This always makes them not to kill any duck in the forest.  

Make sure you have other places that you can hunt in order to have a better hunting experience. To have more kills, you have to play the long-term and short-term game. The long-term game means to search for some forests in your community and discover the ducks.

The long-term plan will also include your knowledge of the lake that will have more ducks and getting permission to hunt on them in case it is owned by an individual.

Short term plan, on the other hand, is the particular place you want to hunt and the time to start hunting. So, when a particular place has many hunters, just go to the next forest you have on your mind. This can be in the same pond or a nearby one.

The next step is to track coves, points, marshes, and creeks. On the opening day of the hunting season, many ducks will gather in the lakes, but after some days they will disappear. This means that you have to drift away from other hunters and move to other places that have fewer hunters. Search for brush wrapped points, exterior of deeps coves, swampy and marshy places around you.

A situation whereby there are many hunters in the forest, the ducks will move from where the hunters are. It is beneficial to identify those areas before the hunting season begins. Ensure you stand in a position that puts the sun behind you and the wind by your side.

The place of the sun is particularly important. Looking at the sun will cause you to miss your target. So, ensure that you are not looking at the sun, that is, the sun must be at your back.

This will ensure that the duck will not see you momentarily when it is trying to rest and this will increase your chances of killing it. Also, ensure that that the wind is on your left or right side. Ducks are more likely to land into the wind. When it is in your front, the ducks will be seeing you just as you are preparing to fire and this is not good for you.

What you should do is to ensure that the wind is moving at 45 degrees. This will give you the needed advantage to kill the duck. If you know where ducks get their food, it will be a good idea to lay an ambush there for them there.

Another idea is if you know their hideout from hunters, it will even be better because you will see plenty of them there. So, you will definitely have all the time to take your shot. Ducks have the ability to see objects at far distances. Using the Camo will not be enough, it is better for you to use the blind to ensure that you are not seen by the ducks till you fire your shotgun.      

When to Duck Hunt

You can hunt for ducks at any time of the day but hunting them in the morning guarantees more ducks in your hunting bag. Some hunters go to their blinds before sunrise. This is highly effective in some areas where you have nice spots close to the lake but it is better to wait till the sun is up so that you can have nice shots.

When you go to the lake before sunrise, you will scare the ducks away from their roost before you settle to make a kill. Ducks are allergic to hot weather, so you have to go to your blind just after sunrise to achieve good shots.

Ducks move around when the weather is cool and airy and when the weather changes they retreat. So, you have to be aware of the changes in the weather and know where they are likely to move. Try and go ahead of them, so that they will not know that you are there as this will increase your chances of having nice kills.

Video: What do I need for duck hunting?

This video the procedures every beginner needs to know before going duck hunting.

Taking Your Shot

At this stage, ensure that your tools are in place and you have mastered the skill of using them effectively. If you have done this, killing the birds will not be hard to achieve. Hunting when you are not ready scares these ducks and makes it impossible for them to land where you can kill them easily.   

Avoid firing the duck at the front of the flock as any miss will scatter the flock of ducks. Therefore, ensure that you aim for the bird that is at the back of the flock as many hunters will not be aiming at the duck.

Novice hunters go for the flock of ducks. This is not good at all, instead aim for a particular duck and fire at it rather than aiming blindingly at the flock. Also, aim at the head of the duck, precisely targeting the head.

We hope this article was helpful. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

You can also check out how to go hunting here.

What do I Need for Duck Hunting? –Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best gun for duck hunting?

Here are 15 best guns for duck hunting:

1. Remington 870

2. Winchester Model 12

3. Browning Pump Shortgun

4. Browning Auto – 5

5. Winchester Super X2

6. Ithaca Mag 10

7. Benelli Super Black Eagle III shotgun

8. Beretta A400

9. Remington 11-87

10. Beretta 302-303

11. Super Fox HE Grade

12. Ithaca NID 10-gauge

13. Mossberg 835

14. Remington VersaMax

15. Winchester Model 87

How do you set up duck decoy on a river?

To set up duck decoy on a river, choose a location on the river. The best place to hunt geese and ducks is in small rivers. While setting up duck decoy on a river, ensure you have a large open space. This will serve as a landing area for the ducks. Birds love to congregate in areas where they find other birds.

Set your decoy in a “U” pattern, facing the direction of the wind. The hunters will be hidden around the shore, using the natural vegetation as cover. Be sure that the hunters have access to different sides of the shoreline.

What kind of choke do you use for duck hunting?

You can use an improved cylinder choke for duck hunting when the ducks are at close range. Also, a skeet constriction kind of choke works well for close range duck hunting. Now, when you are hunting ducks that are at a far distance from your hunting spot, use the modified choke tube

It is very important to know the exact choke to use for duck hunting. This will make your hunting very effective. In the end, you will have a clean kill with less destruction of the meat.

Does rain affect duck hunting?

Rain affects duck hunting. The success of duck hunting in the rain depends on factors such as the intensity and duration of the rain as well as the duck you want to hunt. During long, steady rains, you can hunt some puddle ducks. But under that same condition, you cannot hunt divers.

The movement of diving ducks becomes restrained during moderate to heavy rains that seem to be steady. On the other hand, puddle ducks can move freely under such kinds of rain. So, you stand a chance of hunting puddle ducks successfully during steady rain. 

What shot size is best for ducks?

Exceedingly small shot sizes are best for ducks. The common shot sizes used in duck hunting include Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, BBB, BB, and T shots. For small ducks, when hunting between a range of 15 to 40 yards, use shot sizes of No. 4, 5, or 6.

Furthermore, when hunting large ducks, the ideal range is between 10 to 40 yards. The shot sizes to use for large ducks are 1, 2, 3, or BB. For geese hunting, the ideal range is between 10 to 45 yards and the shot sizes to use are T, BB, or BBB.

Can you use live ducks for decoys?

You cannot use live ducks for decoys. This is an old-fashioned way of hunting ducks. The live ducks were used for calling. It was a celebrated tradition for hunting ducks before the introduction of blocks or artificial decoys. When using a live duck for hunting, the duck will require tethering.

To tether a live decoy, you have to attach a cord as well as a weight to the legs of the live duck. This should be done in such a way that the weight will not harm the duck, and the duck will remain in position all through the hunting period.

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