Step 1: Shotgun
The first, and probably most expensive, purchase needed to hunt almost any animal is a gun. A shotgun is the only gun that is legal to shoot waterfowl with. The most popular size is a 12 gauge which shoots 3 inch shotgun shells (I will talk more about shells in a little bit). Prices for shotguns can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1500. It is up to you how much you want to spend, so I will give my recommendations on an entry-level shotgun and a more expensive model.
• Remington 870 Express Pump-Action (Entry-level)
o The most popular shotgun of all-time
o Very rugged and dependable
o Shoots 2 ¾” and 3” shells
o Can be found used or new all over the country for less than $400
• Beretta A391 Xtrema 2 Semi-Auto (For enthusiasts, pictured above)
o Shoots 2 ¾”, 3”, or 3 ½” shells
o More recoil reduction
o Also very reliable
o Priced around $1400
Step 2: Shotgun Shells
3” 4 shot will serve you well in September and October for shooting mostly teal, wood ducks, and decoying mallards. Later in the season, and especially if you are having trouble fooling birds to within 30 yards of you, 3” 2 shot will help knock down tough mallards.
Common shot sizes, in order of decreasing pellet size:
T > BBB > BB > B > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 6 > 7 > 8 > 9
Step 3: Decoys
Note: Especially if you are starting out, only buy mallard decoys. Mallards are the kings of the waterfowl world and all other species will generally decoy just fine into a spread of mallard decoys.
Small spreads of decoys can especially benefit from a spinning wing decoy, shown above. The extra movement simulates more ducks in your spot and the movement entices flocks into your spread.
Step 4: Waders
In my opinion, the best pair of waders on the market is the Cabela’s SuperMag™ 1600 Chest Waders (pictured above www.cabelas.com). From the website they will run you about $230 plus shipping, but will last you many seasons and are probably the warmest waders on the market. I am very rough on my waders and I had my first pair last 4 seasons and now a second pair has lasted 3 seasons and is doing fine.
Step 5: Clothing
o Under Armour® and other other companies make great base layers for wearing close to the skin.
o Warm fleece and windproof sweatshirts or light jackets are great outer layers in warmer weather or mid-layers in colder weather.
o A waterproof, windproof outer jacket is absolutely essential in foul weather. DO NOT SKIMP HERE. Drake Waterfowl® is my personal favorite as they offer great protection, warmth, and durability while not being too bulky. As always, check website reviews.
• Stocking Hat and Gloves
o For when it’s really cold.
o Waterproof gloves are very handy, especially for handling decoys.
o CAN BE VERY USEFUL, I always keep a few in my bag.
Step 6: Duck Calls
The most important thing to keep in mind when purchasing a duck call is to TEST THEM OUT. You can pick up 5 calls that look exactly the same and they will usually all sound a little different. Go to a sporting goods store with a good selection of duck calls and test as many as you can. If you are learning, generally stay in the $30 range. If your calling skills are advancing, definitely look into the $100 range duck calls as they will tend to sound much better.