By Wade Bourne
Several years back, a friend and I were running his boat up a west Tennessee stream, trying to get to where we'd seen ducks working. We made good progress until we were stopped by a fallen tree that stretched from bank to bank. Guess that's the end of this exploration, I thought to myself.
But I had underestimated my partner. He killed the outboard, opened a dry box—and pulled out a chainsaw. It took him only a few minutes to saw the tree out of our path.
Several hundred yards farther we flushed a swarm of ducks from a slough adjacent to the creek. We tossed out our decoys, hid in nearby bushes, and enjoyed a steady shoot as the birds trickled back to their resting spot.
Of course that's an extreme example. But my point is that it never hurts to be prepared. Following is a somewhat random list of gear that I always keep handy while waterfowling. Obviously, different items will be applicable in different hunting situations. But any of them could help save the day on your next duck hunting trip.
- Camo netting. I keep a large section rolled up and stuffed in a tote bag for hiding hunters, dogs, boats, ATVs, etc. I prefer military-issue camo strips stapled onto heavy string netting. This type of camouflage can be purchased at most military surplus stores.
- Cable ties. I carry several of these plastic fasteners in my blind bag. They work great for building, brushing, and repairing blinds, as well as for binding and fixing various gear.
- Brush cutters. Whether you choose a small ax, machete, or limb pruners, having some kind of tool for cutting brush or trimming limbs is essential for boat-in or walk-in hunters.
- GPS. This device can lead a freelance hunter to the "X" and get him back to the truck when the hunt is over. I prefer the Bushnell BackTrack, a simple three-waypoint device that's the size of a hockey puck.
- Facemask. It's surprising how many duck hunters don't carry a facemask. The eyesight of ducks and geese is better than most hunters realize, and waterfowl can pick up the shine off a hunter's face on both sunny and cloudy days.