Some Odds and Ends of Waterfowling
Duck and goose hunting, perhaps more than another other kind of hunting, is an equipment intensive sport. From massive decoy spreads, to lanyards full of calls, many duck hunters seem to revel in how much gear they can bring into a field or marsh.
If a couple duck hunters get together, it’s inevitable that a discussion comes up about the equipment they use. It’ll start with guns, go on to decoys, and often finish with calls. Everyone is passionate about the guns they shoot, and gear they use. After all, it’s their gear and they use it because it works for them.
To me, where it gets really interesting with duck hunting gear is the other gear. This would be the things that guys use that make their hunting more efficient, easy, or enjoyable. Some of this equipment can be bought from Cabalas, Mack’s Prairie Wings, or any of the other good sporting goods companies. Many hunters will also adapt and use things from their garage, or around the house. Here are a few things that I use that can make my day out in the field better.
Many of the sloughs and ponds I hunt in Southwest Minnesota and in North Dakota are in the middle of a section and not accessible by vehicle. Carrying decoys, guns and everything else can be a chore, especially when hunting alone. To make it easier to get my gear to my hunting spot, I bought a sport sled from Cabelas.
The sled I bought is 55” long, 24” wide, and 10” deep. With a rope attached to the front, it’s easy to pull as I walk. My sled will easily hold 12 – 18 stand sized duck decoys, or even a dozen life sized goose decoys that are bagged. Depending on the situation, I can put decoys, my gun and blind material in the sled, sling a bag over my shoulder and I’m go to go.
Using the sled has a number of advantages. Since it floats, I can use it while setting up and bringing in decoys. If I’m hunting a marsh with lots of cattails, I bring it into the cattails and it’s a good place to set a shell bag or a cooler. When I’m field hunting, it’s easy to cover empty decoy bags or any other extras I have along. Plus, I’ve used it as a shelter and wind block in rough weather.
As much as I like the sled, I have seen guys put big game carriers to good use. Rogers Sporting Goods has a deer carrier priced under $100 that would work well for moving a couple dozen decoys. They also sell a decoy carrier, rated to hold 600 lbs of gear, for around $200(USD). These look like they would work well, although I wonder if the spokes in the wheels might clog up with debris.
Another piece of gear I use that makes hunting from a layout blind much more comfortable is a Therma-Seat Body Mat. This is a waterproof foam mat, 72” long and 24” wide. I use it in my layout blinds and will use it as a ground mat if I’m hunting from a fence line.
Decoy bags are a necessity for field hunting when you can’t drive it the field. When I snow goose hunt, I generally use smaller spreads because there’s not that much pressure in the areas I hunt. I use 4 dozen wind stock decoys. I store and carry these decoys using a utility lawn bag I bought from a home improvement store.
The bag is polyethelene and green in color. It will fit at least 6 dozen windsocks and if I wanted, I could carry 24 duck decoys in it when hunting from my boat. The best thing about the bag, it cost $5.00. If it tears, rips, or gets lost, no loss.
The last item I’ll mention may sound unusual, but it’s worth it – Ziplock bags. I carry 3 or 4 2 gallon ziplock freezer bags in my blind bag. I have these in case I shoot a bird that I may want to mount. A mallard or snow goose will fit inside one, and you can use two if you shoot a big goose.
I also use the gallon size to hold shells during wet weather. I’ll put goose loads in one bag and duck loads in another. Once they’re sealed, your shells stay clean and dry. If you bring a camera, cell phone, or anything else that can get damaged by water, zip lock bags work great.
These are some of the things I use to make my hunting a little easier. The next time you go to a home improvement store or a store such as Walmart, see what you can find to make your hunting a little easier or more enjoyable.