The Bare Necessities

For the beginner, it may seem duck hunting requires a ton of gear. Not true! Let’s breakdown the must-haves versus the nice-to-haves.

5 – You can’t shoot a duck without it!
4 – You’ll wish you had it on nearly every hunt.
3 – Often useful, but you can make do without.
2 – Success or comfort probably won’t depend on it.
1 – Gear to which you will aspire.

FACE CAMO | A face mask or camo face paint will really help you hide.

WADERS | Depending where and how you hunt, they may be 5 or 1. They are super versatile, so they’ll be on your “get-as-soon-as-possible” list.

SHOTGUN | You can’t shoot a duck without it, but you don’t have to own one for your first hunts—a borrowed shotgun works just fine.

DELTA WATERFOWL I.D. GUIDE | The best way to identify ducks in hand and keep you legal. It’s built for years of use in the blind.

GUN CASE | If you have a shotgun, have a case for it. At times, it’s a legal requirement, and it’s a low-cost item, so don’t skip it.

SNACKS & DRINKS | The most seasoned hunters say, “No way I can hunt without coffee and snacks!” The more, the better.

NON-TOXIC AMMO | There are only three true 5 items—ammunition is one of them.

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.

SPARE CAMO | Extra camo fabric or burlap bags can be a makeshift blind or low-vis poncho in a pinch. Add it to your regular kit when you can.

BLIND BAG | You don’t have to have one, but you’ll need something to carry the essentials—like snacks—so even a shopping sack will do.

LICENSES, STAMPS, REGS … AND PHONE? | Whether paper or digital, you need proper licenses. In most places, the main source these days is a phone, so that makes a digital device at least a 4.

GLOVES | Whether for warmth, protection or full-coverage camo, you’ll want gloves on nearly every hunt.

MULTITOOL | You always need a knife, so go for a multi-tool. Choose bare necessities for max versatility.

CAMO OUTER LAYER | No need to go fancy or expensive, but a camo jacket is nearly essential. Choose dark and non-reflective. Go rainproof for maximum versatility.

APPROVED PFD | If you travel by boat, wear one—no questions asked.

CALL | Don’t worry about a call on first hunts. You’ll be better off without one until you learn how and when to use it.

DUCK DOG | A good dog is a huge help in recovering every duck you shoot, but owning and keeping one is a huge commitment. Once you hunt with a good retriever, you’ll want your own, but first focus on all the other essentials.