The Waterfowl Hunter’s Holiday Gift Guide
Here are some of the best gifts to get your favorite duck hunter this season
If the person at the top of your Christmas shopping list is a waterfowler, you’re in luck. Of all the hunting pursuits, waterfowl hunting is the most gear intensive. That means there are a lot of gift ideas to choose from … maybe too many. The following list of top-notch duck and goose hunting gear will help you narrow down your search for the perfect holiday gift this season.
Big Foot B2 Canada Shells
Big Foot’s B2 Canada goose shells feature the same rugged construction and legendary Big Foot durability as their B2 full body counterparts. They are easily stacked for storage and transport and can be quickly deployed within seconds. Each decoy features realistic feather detail and paint colors, as well as flocked heads and tails that provide a life-like appearance. The bold white rump patch is both eye catching and provides a sturdy base so the decoys won’t blow over. B2 shells are slightly oversized, yet lightweight, allowing a dozen to be easily carried into remote locations. They are available in sleeper or variety six-packs. The former contains six one-piece sleepers. The latter includes four head postures: two resters, two actives, one sentry, and one upright. —J.S.
First Lite Shale Hybrid Gloves
I hate wearing heavy gloves while shooting. I’d rather have cold hands than wear bulky gloves when ducks are flying. But earlier this fall, unseasonably cold weather in North Dakota (mid 20’s and a 35mph wind) made gloves a necessity. So I tried First Lite’s new Shale Hybrid Gloves. They’re made from merino wool and have goat skin leather around the palm and padding around the knuckles. These gloves were designed for western big-game hunters, but they work great as bird shooting gloves, too (you’ll want a different set of waterproof gloves for picking up floater decoys, see below). They fit perfectly with what First Lite calls its “shooter’s cut” and kept my hands warm enough to burn through shells and pile up a limit of migrating mallards and gadwall. When it gets really cold this winter, I’ll be wearing these gloves in the blind with some hand-warmers stashed in my wader pouch. —A.R.
Carlson’s Cremator Choke Tubes
Carlson’s Cremator waterfowl chokes come in both recoil-reducing ported and economical non-ported models. All have a matte black finish with the constriction clearly marked on the extended portion. Inside, each choke features Carlson’s Triple Shot Technology in which three staggered rings within the tube’s taper section provide the shot column a gradual transition from bore to final constriction. Translation: better downrange patterns and more dead ducks. There are three constrictions – Close, Mid, and Long Range – to meet all waterfowling situations. A convenient two-pack includes both Mid and Long Range tubes. Cremator chokes are available for nearly every 12- and 20-gauge shotgun currently in production. There’s also a new Snow Goose model with a non-reflective white Cerakote finish offered in 12-gauge only and sizes Mid and Long. —J.S.
Howard Leight Earmuff
Howard Leight’s Impact Sport electronic earmuff is now available in OD green and Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo so you can enjoy just as much hearing protection in the field as you do on the shooting range. It provides up to 4x amplification so waterfowlers can engage in duck blind banter and hear incoming birds, yet still protect their hearing. These electronic earmuffs automatically reduce the dangerous impulse noise level of a shotgun blast to a safe 82db. These slim earmuffs have an ultra-low profile that won’t interfere with gun mount, and provide a noise reduction rating of 22db. Batteries are included and other colors are available. Give the gift of hearing this holiday season. —J.S.
Cabela’s Seemless Decoy Glove
I picked these up on a whim while strolling through Cabela’s and they turned out to be the best $30 I’ve spent all year. They are full waterproof, plenty warm, and the cuff stretches high enough that it covers your whole forearm. These are the ideal gloves for setting decoys in frigid conditions and then picking them back up again. Snag a pair for your best duck hunting buddy and he’ll pay you back by helping pick up the spread a whole lot quicker. —A.R.
RedHead XTR Camo Moc
RedHead’s new XTR Camo Moc slip-on shoes are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. These comfortable, lightweight camp shoes easily slip on and off thanks to flexible side panels and a back tab. They are great for lounging around duck camp, training the dog in the backyard, or hanging out by a bonfire. The durable Cordura uppers are breathable and now feature complete True Timber camo coverage. Inside, there’s a comfortable, cushioned insole, while the rugged, rubber outsole has a large tread pattern that provides sure traction without accumulating excess mud or rocks. XTR Camo Mocs are available in men’s, women’s, and youth sizes.—J.S.
Greenhead Gear Pro Grade XD Series Harvester Pack
These decoys won the mallard floater test that I helped run earlier this fall. They’re everything you want in a decoy: durability, a realistic paint job, and anatomically accurate body positions that stand out from a distance. The harvester six pack includes two active drakes (heads up), two swimmer drakes, and two active hens. We hunted hard over these decoys early in the season and noticed hardly any wear and tear. They are made of what GHG calls “DuraFeather”—a soft, more flexible plastic that won’t crack easily. So, we’ll be hunting over these decoys until the season runs out in December. —A.R.
Dive Bomb V2 Canada Silhouettes
Dive Bomb Industries’ V2 Canada goose silhouettes combine the toughness of a plastic decoy with the compactness and portability of a silhouette. Made from a corrugated plastic material that’s 4mm thick, these are among the most durable silhouettes available. They feature realistic feather detail, a textured, non-glare finish, and chip resistant paint that won’t fade. Models with flocked heads are also available. A dozen V2s weigh only 6-pounds and include six feeders, two resters, two quartering away, and two lookers. Newly designed two-pronged stakes are 20-inches long and are made with tempered spring steel that allows force to be applied from the top so they can be easily pushed into hard ground. The stakes also have a black, powder-coated finish that eliminates glare and rust. —J.S.
Banded Squaw Creek Insulated Bib
I’ve worn these bad boys while field hunting geese in Minnesota, chasing cold-front mallards in North Dakota, and even while sitting in a treestand for deer in Wisconsin. In all those frigid scenarios I’ve stayed warm and dry. The bibs are insulated with 100-gram Primaloft, and have full side zippers on the legs so you can get them on and off without taking off your boots. They also have side-zip chest adjustments and a waist belt. These features allow you to cinch the bibs down tight and keep cold air from creeping in. —A.R.
Avery Decoy Backpack
The Avery Decoy Backpack will hold 12 duck decoys and two spinning wing decoys, plus a shotgun. It features a pair of stacked, six-slot bags, each with zippered covers. The slot dimensions are 7x7x16-inches to accommodate most standard size floating duck decoys. Two side pockets, one on each bag, hold a spinner apiece. On the opposite side is a gunstock pocket with a vertical barrel strap for a shotgun. EVA padded back support and padded shoulder and waist straps provide comfortable carry even with a full load. The backpack is made from tough 600-denier polyester with a 4mm mesh quick-drain bottom. It comes in two Mossy Oak camo patterns – Shadow Grass Blades and Bottomland (shown). —J.S.
Delta Waterfowl Legend Layout Blind
The new Delta Waterfowl Legend layout blind by Alps Outdoorz is similar to its Zero Gravity open-floored predecessor, with the addition of a waterproof tarpaulin floor that protects waterfowlers and their gear from the harshest elements. The highlight of this blind is its suspended Zero Gravity chair, which keeps hunters high and dry above ground while still maintaining a low profile. A mesh face mask provides concealment without obstructing vision. The zippered rear door provides access to a storage area, while stubble straps allow native vegetation to be attached. The blind also has zippered flagging ports on each side, a padded headrest, and backpack carry straps. The spacious 24×56-inch cockpit allows plenty of freedom for swinging a scattergun. The Legend comes in Max-5 camo.—J.S.
Birchwood Casey Gun Plumber
Birchwood Casey’s new Gun Plumber multi-tool has everything needed to fix gun problems in the field. It features several gunsmith selected bits, including both 2mm and 6mm flat bits, T10 and T15 Torx drivers, and four Hex bits (1/16-, 3/32-, 7/64-, and 5/32-inch), as well as a #2 Phillips screw driver, which is the most common size needed for removing recoil pad screws. There’s also a rounded universal choke tube wrench. Quality steel construction ensures years of service. Best of all, this folding multi-tool is compact enough to be easily stashed in a shooting bag or vest pocket. That compact size also makes the Gun Plumber the perfect stocking stuffer for that hunter in your life. —J.S.
For more gift ideas, see our Holiday Gift Guide.
Zink LNR Goose Call
Zink’s new Long Neck Rocker short reed goose call features Fred Zink’s proprietary worn-in tone channel which allows the call to produce realistic, contest-quality honker sounds right out of the box. Neither deep or high, the LNR’s pitch sits right in that middle sweet spot, making it a good choice for calling all the various Canada goose species, large or small. Built-in back pressure creates sharp double clucks and honks that will get goose necks craning and black webbed feet dropping into the decoys. The LNR is offered in a variety of colors ranging from subdued to flamboyant. A hard case, extra reeds, and instructional DVD are included.—J.S.
Don’t forget Fido this holiday season. Tom Dokken’s new TD100 Drone takes retriever training to a higher level—literally. A Dead Fowl training dummy or pigeon can be attached to the drone, which then lifts it high into the air. This encourages retrievers to get in the habit of looking up to scan the sky for incoming birds. Training dummies or live birds can then be dropped for the dog to fetch. It can also be used for remote planting of blind retrieves, and with the addition of floats, the drone can even simulate a duck landing in the decoys. The TD100 is ideal for amateur and professional trainers alike looking for a way to freshen up their training regimen. While this is the most expensive item on the list, a well-trained pooch is worth it. —J.S.
The 20-gauge SX4 is one of the best-shooting shotguns I have ever put my hands on. It’s just ahead of the Beretta A400, Franchi Affinity, and Benelli M2 20s because of the quality you get for the price tag. You get that same deal with the 12-gauge. It is one of the fastest and most reliable gas guns ever made because of the Active Valve gas system. I’ve shot it multiple times on snow geese during the spring conservation order, and it cycles better than most any other gun I’ve used, except maybe the SX3. I love inertia-driven guns for their simplicity, but on high-volume shoots the gas-operated autoloaders have always served me a little better…if they’re clean. Plus, a well-made 3.5-inch gun for under $750 (if you get the black synthetic model) is a damn fine deal. The safety is reversible for you lefties, and the 12 is just over 7 pounds (the 20 is 6.5), so it’s not a bad gun to tote down the public levee. I’ve been shooting the SX4 for two years and it has never failed to cycle the next shell, from skeet to 1 1/8-ounce duck loads. —J.G.
Filson Backpack Dry Bag
One of the most annoying things about blind bags is all the different zippers and compartments. We’re duck hunters, not closet organizers, so all our gear and snacks get lumped into one jumbled mess. The reason I like this Dry Bag, is I can fill it with whatever I need to take afield and it won’t get wet. It has one of those fancy waterproof zippers you see on all the Yeti coolers, and yes, this bag is just as expensive, but you will never have to buy another blind bag again, nor will you want to. The backpack style is awesome for walk-in hunters, and the inside is cavernous. There is a clear outside plastic pocket where you can stick your phone, so it doesn’t take a drink, and the one internal mesh pocket is a good place to keep your wallet and truck keys. —J.G.
Avian-X Topflight Backwater Mallards
Fred Zink is a far better duck hunter than me, which is why I buy his stuff. Take the Backwater Mallards. Ingeniously, he created six-packs of all feeding drakes and hens, which is the posture most ducks have during the times we are hunting them. Look around the marsh and see how many other groups are running all head-up decoys. To kill ducks, you need to be different and these decoys will give you an edge. The paint on Zink’s floaters don’t typically chip, but if you want an even more realistic decoy there are fully-flocked versions in a variety of species. I suggest adding some black ducks to the spread. They really stand out in the sun. —J.G.
Ira McCauley, who designed this blind, is a pretty fit guy, but he holds a special place in his heart for us fat guys, who have always had to squeeze into layout blinds. The Invisi-man (rated for 300 pounds) is very roomy, and it’s easy to get out of when you’re in the water because there is no foot bag, which will prevent you from taking an early-morning dip. You are also free to kick your legs in the water to bring the decoys to life. It’s easily one of the most advanced portable duck blinds that has ever been made. The telescoping legs allow you to hunt from dry ground up to 30 inches of water. You can also hunt where others cannot, because this blind allows you to go to the ducks—as long as they are in shallow enough water—and stay hidden even if there is no cover. There are back straps so you can hump the Invisi-man into the marsh, but it also lays flat on a decoy cart or Jet Sled. —J.G.
The honker hunter in your family will be ecstatic to find this call under the tree. GK’s Overture has become well-known as one of the easiest short-reeds on the market to blow. The Overture lets you get away with a little less air pressure than most goose calls. It comes in a True Lesser or Total Control model. They are both good options, but if you plan on hunting little geese, that high-pitched lesser call is the way to go. You can still make little goose sounds with the Total Control, but it takes a bit more experience to do it. This is a lightning fast call that responds quick without much air, and it is easier to control than most calls. Once you add in the right amount of back pressure, you’ll spark the curiosity of stubborn late-season honkers. —J.G.
Banded RedZone Elite 2.0 Breathable Uninsulated Wader
Waders are going to spring a leak eventually, but I have found that for the money, Banded’s second generation RedZone is the best buy. You can spend another $500 to get Sitka’s Delta waders, but $1,000 is a lot of money to keep you dry. The RedZone is great option for those of us who can’t afford that hefty price tag, and even though this waders aren’t cheap, they do last. I’ve gotten three seasons out of mine so far. Big fellas will have to break these in a bit. They are oddly a little tight below the waist, but will stretch a bit once you dump your beer gut in them half a dozen times. The tread on the boot has been upgraded from the original waders, and these don’t leak as quick as the first RedZones, which were notorious for that (even right out of the box). —J.G.
Garmin Alpha 200i
My dad always splurged on Tri-Tronics e-collars. They were expensive, but they also never broke down. Since Garmin bought T-T out years ago, the collars have only gotten better, and that holds true with the 200i. It’s a high-tech unit, but not that difficult to operate (though I don’t recommend buying one for gramps). It’s a GPS/e-collar combo with 18 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation, as well as a tone/vibration function. It’s also capable of tracking 20 dogs up to 9 miles with a 2.5-second update rate. You won’t need to track that many dogs, but it is nice to see where pup is if he has to track down a sailed bird. The 200i also can track your dog’s daily hunting patterns, so when your Lab makes a long retrieve you can see just how far he ranged. There’s also extensive mapping and directional applications to see public-land or refuge boundaries, or if you just want to get a birds-eye view of the marsh. You can also text, post to social media, and communicate with inReach devices, plus there is an interactive SOS, so your loved ones don’t have to worry as much when you hunt alone. —J.G.
Lucky Duck Kennel
This is a heavy-duty travel kennel that is 5-star crash-test rated but only weighs 38 pounds. The problem with some other kennels is they are overly heavy. The LD Kennel is much easier to lift into the bed of your truck or the back of an SUV. It also comes in one piece so you don’t have to spend any time assembling it. I’ve tried other roto-molded kennels that come in two pieces and putting them together isn’t always as easy as they make it look on YouTube. The LD Kennel was tested to withstand 4,000 pounds of force, and withstood a 630-pound drop from 8 feet high. It’s well ventilated for hot days, but if you hunt a dog in extreme cold, I would recommend buying the cover that is sold separately. The kennel is big enough to house most any size retriever unless you have one of those black bear-sized Labs . —J.G.
Tom Beckbe Tensaw Jacket
Even with all the technological advances in hunting clothing, a good waxed cotton jacket is tough to beat, and the Tensaw is one of my new favorites. It doesn’t have some of the stiffness you get out of the box with most high-dollar waxed cotton. In fact it feels like someone else broke it in as I slipped it on. There is a buttoned bi-swing back and gusseted underarms for more range of motion, though it was a touch tight in my chest with a few layers on underneath (I’m 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, so more in shape folks will have a better fit). The standup collar is lined with Bedford cord to keep the wind and cold off your neck. Don’t worry, once you button up the jacket, the mallards will never see that blaze orange liner. And sorry, the whiskey flask is not included. —J.G.