Top Gear Picks for Waterfowl

You'll be safer, drier...and deadlier.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Another year has gone by and the ultimate duck magnet has yet to be invented. You'll still have to call hard, scout for hours and suffer through nasty weather (that is, if you're doing it right). Don't fret, though, because several companies have your comfort in mind. Consider staying warm in the blind. It used to be impossible, but your shooting fingers won't feel the chill when tucked inside Avery's insulated hand muff. And Cabela's Pro Angler camo PFD will keep you afloat in case of an accident. Of course, technology helps this year's new calls and decoys sound and look more and more like the real thing. But that's just a sampling of what's being offered. Check out the rest of this year's new waterfowl gear.

1. Water Safety, Camo-Style
Like most outdoorsmen, duck hunters are notoriously stubborn when it comes to wearing PFDs. Cabela's has reached the perfect compromise between comfort and safety, however, so no more excuses. The Pro Angler 100 is a Coast Guard-approved Type III PFD. It has three adjustable buckles and a reinforced zipper to keep it in place and the stand-up flotation collar is lined with Polar Fleece to keep you warm. Every aspect of the jacket is designed with safety in mind-except for the Advantage Max-4 HD camo pattern, of course, which is designed to hide you from incoming ducks. ($64.95; 800-237-4444; www.cabelas.com)

2. All-in-One Hand Warmer
The age-old challenge in the duck blind is keeping your extremities warm. Gloves can interfere with shooting, so I prefer a hand muff. Avery decided that if you're going to have a fleece-lined muff, it might as well be loaded with features. This model includes a shell holder, zippered pockets for items such as a heat pack, an adjustable belt (which extends to 60 inches) and 100 grams of Thinsulate. ($17.99; 800-333-5119; www.averyoutdoors.com)

High-Velocity Duck Loads
When it comes to choosing which shells to haul to the duck blind, it's hard to go wrong with high-velocity loads. These three shells all list muzzle velocities of 1,450 fps, which gives you one less excuse for missing.

**3. Remington's Hevi-Shot Nitro Magnum ** is one of the hardest-hitting duck loads on the market. Downrange penetration with the dense shot is remarkable. ($20 for a box of 10; www.remington.com)

4. Winchester's Supreme is an excellent choice for hunters who prefer the performance and economy of steel shot. The plated steel shot and two-piece wadding help reduce corrosion and make the shells more water resistant. ($25 for a box of 25; www.winchester.com)

5. Federal's Premium Ultra-Shok is the company's latest high-velocity steel shot shell. During a hunt last season in Arkansas, the 1¼-ounce steel loads handled everything from big-bodied greenheads crossing over flooded rice fields to woodies and teal sneaking through thick timber. ($17.95 for a box of 25; www.federalcartridge.com)