The 15 Things You Need To Pack For Your First Duck Hunt
If you love waterfowl hunting as much as we do, it's easy to understand how the excitement of an upcoming hunt can consume most of your brain power and make you a little less focussed when it comes to the particulars of packing. We get it, and we've compiled a comprehensive (and perhaps exhaustive) list of necessities to save you the trouble of having to second and triple guess the contents of your pack post-departure. Print out this checklist - hell, laminate the thing - and keep it with your gear so you can always do a quick roll call before you head out.
1) Your Arms and Ammo. Specifically, your firearm(s). Unless you are planning to coax a goose from the sky with telepathy and then wrestle it with your bare hands, you are going to need to remember to pack your firearm of choice - as well as the necessary licences for wielding your weapon. This leads us to our next point...
2) Your Licence and Registration. You need to bring all your hunting licenses and tags with you on your hunt. This includes your Migratory Game Bird Permit, which is required for hunting waterfowl in Canada.
3) Weather Appropriate Clothing. Waterfowl hunting season in Canada spans from September to early December, and as anyone who's true north strong and free can tell you, the weather can vary A LOT in that time. We're talking going from flip-flops to snow shoes in a matter of weeks - even days. When you're packing for your hunting trip, make sure you tune in to the weather channel, and then pack a few precautionary layers anyway (especially socks). You're hunting waterfowl, after all, so you may get a little damp if your strike zone is in a marsh.
TIP: Unlike other types of hunting that require you to sport hunter's orange, you can feel free to wear camo while hunting waterfowl. This said, just make sure it is brown based camo, not the typical army green. You're not hunting in the jungle, after all. It's also a good idea to pack face cover. Nothing will scare ducks and geese away like your face beaming up at them from below.
4) Your Hunting Camp. Even if you're just out on a day hunt, you'll usually have a place you will go to refuel and ‘release’, so bringing along some sort of hunting camp is vital. We've written a comprehensive article on building a hunting camp <blog link> where you can get in-depth information on what exactly to bring, but the key elements include a shelter, a place to relieve yourself and a place to cook, eat and rest. You don't have to bring along your fully loaded RV (though you could do this), but there's no rule that says you can't be comfortable, so pack what you need to create a home away from home.
5) Refrigeration. The idea of waterfowl hunting is to bag a few birds, so you'll need to keep them fresh - especially if you're on an extended trip. This means you could need anything from ice packed coolers (for shorter trips; 1-2 days) or full on, generator driven refrigerators.
6) Cleaning Implements/Dressing Kit. Your knife is necessary for breasting and you'll also need shears and surgical gloves (if you don't want to get your hands dirty) if you are going to bring home the whole bird. Of course, you can just bring an entire dressing kit which will serve well no matter how you decide to divide and conquer your bird.
7) Maps/Compass. If you're journeying into new territory for this year’s hunt, be sure to pack some maps of the area and a compass so you can get a solid lay of the land.
8) Landowners Permission. If you're hunting on private land, make sure you have and carry permission from the landowners on your person.
9) First Aid Kit. Cuts and scrapes happen at the best of times, even to the most cautious hunters, so be sure to carry a full loaded first aid kit on day trips, and then double or triple the contents for extended trips. Consider packing Tylenol – and even blood clotters if you are really venturing off the beaten path.
10) Communication. Even if you want to go off the grid, be sure to bring some form of phone or long range transmitter in case of emergency. If you are adamantly against bringing any technology, at least be sure to leave the details of your trip with family and/or friends. These details should include not only where you're going, but also when you expect to be back.
11) Flashlight and Batteries. It's easy to lose track of time or underestimate how long it will take you to get back to your camp, so it's good form to not only pack a flashlight, but also bring it with you while you’re out on the hunt.
12) Hunt Friendly Food. What, exactly, is up to you, but we strongly suggest simple staples that keep well and cook quickly, like beans, pasta and canned food. DON'T forget to bring enough clean water!
13) Toiletries. You don't want the wildlife to see or smell you, so bring your toiletries.
14) Your Meds. MAKE SURE to pack your prescription meds!
15) Waterfowl Calls. Your calls may seem like one of the most obvious necessities, but that doesn't mean it can't be easily forgotten.
*Note, while this list is specifically for waterfowl, it can be used to help you prepare and pack for almost any hunting trip.