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Thread: What is the basic gear you need to start duck hunting?

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    Member barber8605's Avatar
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    Default What is the basic gear you need to start duck hunting?

    I have dove hunted for years in Florida and I am looking to get into some duck hunting. I live in Wasilla so I will be trying to hunt in the immediate area. I have a mossberg 500 that I will be using. What do I need to get to be successful? Choke type? Ammo? Decoys? Calls? Probably will have a canoe to use. Any insight and direction would be great. Thanks.

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    Sponsor akblackdawg's Avatar
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    your gun is fine, steel shot, i use #2 but others have other preference. you can start out just pass shooting, sit along water where ducks fly and take pot shots at them. Decoys are good, i use deks, and draw them in on a good day. go paddle around Mud lake and take a look. Lots of info on here, do a search, or just start reading posts from last fall. Welcome to the forum. Bud
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    Member AK375HH's Avatar
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    When I use a shotgun with 1 barrel I will use a modified choke. Gives me a good all around distance pattern...I shoot steel #2 shot in. 3" or 3.5" shell. I carry BB for geese 3.5" only. As for a call I use what's called the "double nasty" you can google it if you'd like. Obviously you'll need the outerwear for the environment...waders and dress in layers in case you go walking. A dozen decoys... And something to make a blind with helps too lol. I also use face paint. Either that or a mask will help. When I fly over a marsh and the hunter looks up I can spot that white face a mile away...n so can the ducks.
    It's not skybusting if you fold em'.

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    If you are a beginner I would recommend a double reed call. They are easier to blow, and don't stick as much as the single reeds. Single reeds are louder, but also freeze up faster when it gets cold.

    The face paint, or face mask is a must, as 375 said, the birds will see you from a mile away if you leave your face exposed. Gloves are a good idea to hide your hands too.

    Breathable chest waders are very nice to have as well if you do a lot of walking, which you may be doing if you don't have a dog.

    Make sure you have a plug in your magazine so it only holds two shells. The law only allows you to be able to load 3 shells in your gun.

    Also the shooting times listed in the regs are the time you are allowed to begin legally shooting, not 1/2 hour before. For some reason, a lot of people seem to be confused by this and end up making a hefty donation to the state.

    Have fun and good luck!
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    basic. ... in ak...Shotgun, steel shot and a light weight rod to hook dead birds from water....and waders


    you can hunt wjere everyone else does... or you can hop in your car and puddle jump the highways... and have a great time
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Member barber8605's Avatar
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    Will it be too late to hunt the end of Oct or should I look into going for some sea ducks? If so where would you recommend? I understand your not going to tell me your secret holes and I wouldnt ask you too just looking for a direction they might be.

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    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    That is getting pretty close to freeze up. You might get one or two hunts in that time of year. For sea ducks talk to Buck Brown out of seldovia. He has the best sea duck hunt in AK. Way more birds there than you will get out of Valdez.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barber8605 View Post
    Will it be too late to hunt the end of Oct or should I look into going for some sea ducks? If so where would you recommend? I understand your not going to tell me your secret holes and I wouldnt ask you too just looking for a direction they might be.
    If you spend a few minutes reviewing posts from past seasons you will quickly learn that there are no secret holes around here. Every easy to get to hunting spot has been fully documented on many past threads. If you search this thread for posts made by me, you will have enough info to get you knee deep into ducks if you work at it.

    The only issue would be how to get the birds back since some of the places I discuss are kind of deadly for wading.

    If you don't know how to use a duck call it will do more harm than good.

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    I use a shot gun and a waterbottle to great sucess, I have a long sleve t shirt that I wear in the mornings and tie my ducks inside it as the day goes on and it gets warmer. I just shoot them as I hike though a swamp. waiders are potional, depends on how tough you are feeling. 3" No 2 stee shot and a modified choke, which is pretty much standard
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Ok, I'll stir the pot a bit here. With the shotgun you described, I'd say stick w/ the lighter 2 3/4" loads, I happen to like #3, but shoot just about anything from #1 to #4 on ducks. The bigger the load, the bigger the flinch, and ducks, when shot within a reasonable range, are not that hard to kill really. If you had a semi auto or shotgun that absorbed recoil, fine, go w/ heavier loads, but especially early, I see no need to get beat up or spend the extra money.
    Spend a little time scouting or looking to see where they want to be, or how they travel, and just sit there. Try to pick a spot where you can get to the downed birds relatively easy, and when there, find them. No sense in shooting what you can't find later. Often early season birds are not helped much by decoys or calls. If I could only have one early, I'd take a couple of dekes and leave the call at home. Find that little puddle in a back corner, throw out a pair of dekes, and just sit. Take a book too in case it is a tad slow.
    Other than that you got some good advice here,
    ARR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ak River Rat View Post
    Ok, I'll stir the pot a bit here. With the shotgun you described, I'd say stick w/ the lighter 2 3/4" loads, I happen to like #3, but shoot just about anything from #1 to #4 on ducks. The bigger the load, the bigger the flinch, and ducks, when shot within a reasonable range, are not that hard to kill really. If you had a semi auto or shotgun that absorbed recoil, fine, go w/ heavier loads, but especially early, I see no need to get beat up or spend the extra money.
    Spend a little time scouting or looking to see where they want to be, or how they travel, and just sit there. Try to pick a spot where you can get to the downed birds relatively easy, and when there, find them. No sense in shooting what you can't find later. Often early season birds are not helped much by decoys or calls. If I could only have one early, I'd take a couple of dekes and leave the call at home. Find that little puddle in a back corner, throw out a pair of dekes, and just sit. Take a book too in case it is a tad slow.
    Other than that you got some good advice here,
    ARR
    I didnt think that 2 3/4 would have enough power to knock em down. Is there a certain brand you would recommend and should I use a long range choke since there is less pellets?

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    I don't use anything except 2 3/4 Federal #2s with the stock modified choke. If you are hunting over decoys your birds should be within 25 or 30 yards. It doesn't take much to knock them down at that range. Heck, my buddies kid uses a 20 gauge on them and he does just fine. The birds we shoot up here are mostly in eclipse, so thier plumage thin.

    Those Long range chokes are good if you are pass shooting. But if you are hunting over decoys you don't need it.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs

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    Ok, one more stir w/ the big spoon. I buy what is cheap, I shoot it, I kill birds. I've got a buddy shoots nothing but high end Winchester, and he does not kill them any "deader" than I do w/ typically Federals. People have a hard time judging how far birds are away, so if you have a rangefinder, go out before season and see if you can teach yourself what a 20 yard bird looks like and compare that to a 40 yard bird. Hunt close, it makes the success per shot go up, you wound fewer birds, and you lose fewer birds.
    Yes, you should likely go pattern your gun. I never have though. It might up my success rate, but I am normally pretty happy the way I shoot.
    Late season when the birds feather up, I tend to go w/ 3" and heavier loads, other than that, 2 3/4" does pretty well w/ a modified choke.
    You are asking good questions, and that is a great place to start. Good luck this season,
    ARR

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    Member barber8605's Avatar
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    For decoys does it matter which type of duck they are modeled after or is there a certain style that works the best for the Palmer/ Wasilla area? I will save the calling for next season that way I have time to practice and get decent at it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barber8605 View Post
    For decoys does it matter which type of duck they are modeled after or is there a certain style that works the best for the Palmer/ Wasilla area? I will save the calling for next season that way I have time to practice and get decent at it.
    You still have some time to learn some basic calling to at least get thier attention to your set...heck ducks and geese are not perfect callers either... ever go to the park and hear geese they are terrible..lol I seem to recall a turkey or something losing a calling contest years ago

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    Some guys argue that you should only use hen mallard decoys here, since all of the birds are in eclipse (and it's a valid argument). I use the full color drakes, as well as the hens and have had no problems with birds flaring away from my spread. I use a mixed bag of Mallards, teal, widgeon, a couple pintails, and 3 or four blue bills. I also use a couple feeder decoys in the shallow areas. I like to add a few floater goose decoys as well. But for a basic set up, just go get yourself a dozen flambeau mallards, or some greenhead gear hotbuys and you will be set. Remember though, bigger spreads can be seen from farther away so you might want to pick up a couple or 3 dozen. That is one of the reasons I like to use the full color drake decoys, they are bright and have more visibility. When you put your decoys out, make sure you leave some open areas in your spread so the birds have somewhere land.

    For calling, you still have a while to practice if you aren't going to start hunting until October. Down to your local duck pond and listen to the sounds they make, then try to mimic the calls. Another good way to learn, is to buy one of Buck Gardner's calls that comes with the instructional CD. Pop that thing into your cd player in your vehicle and practice away while you drive to work. You will get some funny looks going to down the Glenn though. Also get yourself one of the whistle calls. They are also known as a widgeon whistle. You can make teal, drake mallard, pintail, and widgeon calls with them. They work great on late season ducks who hear nothing but some guy blaring away on his hen mallard call all morning.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs

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    Member barber8605's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duckslayer56 View Post
    Some guys argue that you should only use hen mallard decoys here, since all of the birds are in eclipse (and it's a valid argument). I use the full color drakes, as well as the hens and have had no problems with birds flaring away from my spread. I use a mixed bag of Mallards, teal, widgeon, a couple pintails, and 3 or four blue bills. I also use a couple feeder decoys in the shallow areas. I like to add a few floater goose decoys as well. But for a basic set up, just go get yourself a dozen flambeau mallards, or some greenhead gear hotbuys and you will be set. Remember though, bigger spreads can be seen from farther away so you might want to pick up a couple or 3 dozen. That is one of the reasons I like to use the full color drake decoys, they are bright and have more visibility. When you put your decoys out, make sure you leave some open areas in your spread so the birds have somewhere land.

    For calling, you still have a while to practice if you aren't going to start hunting until October. Down to your local duck pond and listen to the sounds they make, then try to mimic the calls. Another good way to learn, is to buy one of Buck Gardner's calls that comes with the instructional CD. Pop that thing into your cd player in your vehicle and practice away while you drive to work. You will get some funny looks going to down the Glenn though. Also get yourself one of the whistle calls. They are also known as a widgeon whistle. You can make teal, drake mallard, pintail, and widgeon calls with them. They work great on late season ducks who hear nothing but some guy blaring away on his hen mallard call all morning.
    Cant sit at a pond and listen to the ducks(not much water in the desert) but I will look into getting a call or two with an instructional CD so I can practice and get strange looks.

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    If you are still in the desert, I'd guess there are ponds at golf courses, et al. Ducks talk whereever they are, they are a gabby bunch. The simpler you keep things, the easier it is to get started. If you want to be mobile, the less you carry, the easier. Often times when starting out it is hard to find a honey hole early on, especially one somebody has not staked a claim to. If you go w/ decoys and want to stay more mobile, a few will do, and mallards work. If you have a canoe or boat, carry a few more. For the most part you should be able to find them second hand at yard sales. No sense in paying top dollar for new ones.
    Early season we'll put out mallards, scaup, a few geese, and a swan or two for a sense of security for the birds. You often see mixes like that anyway. Late season, after it has frozen up, I tend to just use mallards and maybe a goose and a diver. But again, you can spend the farm on toys and gear and end up not enjoying this type of hunt, so spend your money wisely.
    As for calling, I love doing it, just don't worry too much about it early season. For a call, I'd suggest a less expensive model that is not too loud or harsh. I love my Faulks WA-33 single reed as it fits all of those parameters. Again, you can spend tons on a high end call, but a $20 bill can do the job. You just want it to call cleanly and break well on the reed. Besides, you've never heard a duck hunter cry like one who just lost his high zute big dollar call.
    The night flights from one water hole to another, or feeding field back to water are great places to hear some neat hail calls and greetings as ducks trade back and forth. I'm lucky, I live on the river and can sit in the evenings w/ a call in hand and listen to the pros do their thing.
    ARR

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    Well, that's true. There were ducks in Baghdad when I was there. It was nice to see them when we drove by a pond. I guess Afghanistan isn't really duck habitat. Cabelas has the set up I was talking about and they ship to deployed locations. It's called the Buck Gardner Double Nasty II Duck Call Kit and it runs $24.99 before shipping.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs

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    I will look into getting one of those and a whistler call shipped over here any suggestions on the whistler?

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