In the Bag
A professional waterfowl guide gives his take on packing for the hunt.
As a waterfowl guide who specializes in sea ducks, what I bring with me to the blind or boat is critical. When I’m hunting with clients in limited space, only the essentials make it into my bag. After many years of pursuing my favorite game, I have come up with a must-have list for a successful waterfowl hunt.
**1. **First off, you need a bag. I recommend a Cabela’s blind bag. Its closed-cell foam walls and hard bottom protect expensive gear. Also, the bag floats. I prefer a Mossy Oak camo because of its blending characteristics.
2. Choosing one goose call from the dozens on the market isn’t a simple matter. The Paralyzer SR-1 goose call is my go-to call. Made by calling champion Fred Zink, this call produces the sounds needed to fool the wariest gander. For a duck call, I prefer several made by Rich-N-Tone. Here again, ease of calling and quality of sound are what I’m looking for.
3. The Avery Neoprene PowerBelt is a convenient way to keep your shotgun shells handy for quick reloading during the hunt.
**4. **Besides your shotgun, a knife is the most essential tool you can bring. With limited space, it’s a good idea to consolidate this with other tools you might need. I pack the multi-tool Charge XTI by Leatherman. From cleaning game to repairing a stubborn outboard, this tool can do it all.
5. I like to carry two communication devices with me. The first is a cell phone protected by a floating neoprene case. The other is a VHF marine radio made by Standard Horizon. Small, compact and waterproof, the HX 460 is a must-have item in nasty weather. In addition, this radio features a NOAA weather channel.
6. A quality binocular is a must for scouting or observing waterfowl. I use a Zeiss 10×40 and a Swarovski 10×42. Another good choice is the Nikon Monarch ATB 10×42.
**7. **A compact digital camera, such as Canon’s Power Shot S500, is perfect for documenting the hunt. Be sure to keep it in a waterproof container.
**8. **To find a blind in the middle of a dark field before a goose hunt, I turn to a small flashlight by Surefire. This flashlight produces a beam that’s nearly as powerful as a spotlight.
9. Another safety item that I pack is the LED lighter by Brunton. The lighter is perfect for soldering wires in a pinch, while the light is useful for working on small projects.
10. I also carry an emergency kit, which includes items such as a whistle, flares, an air horn and a compass.
11. Spend time in a shallow channel in the dark, and you’ll want a navigation aid. Altitech makes an all-in-one instrument that includes a compass, barometer, weather gauge and more. Of course, the waterproof Garmin Marine GPS-76 is a staple.
**Not pictured but recommended: **Extra ammo (two boxes of 12-gauge No. 4 shot is my preference); Avery’s Floating Game Strap; extra gloves; a camouflaged PFD; and ear protection. (I prefer Electronic Shooters Protection.)