Waterfowl hunting tends to take a backseat to deer hunting in Michigan, but we have some of the best populations of ducks and geese in the country. If you are interested in getting after some birds this fall, let’s talk about the gear you need to do it. Some of this is stuff you likely already own while there are a few things you may need to pick up.
Most hunters own a shotgun of some sort as it is sort of the hammer of the firearm world. For waterfowl hunting, you will want to use a 20 gauge at a minimum and ideally a 12. A pump, double barrel, semi-auto, or even a single shot will work to get started. The semi-auto shotgun is the ideal waterfowl weapon with the ability to quickly shoot 3 shots. However, you can fire very fast with a pump shotgun as well. The ability to use choke tubes is a must and a longer shotgun of 28″ is preferred. You will be shooting birdshot ranging from size 3 down to BB depending on the bird you are hunting.
If you are going to only hunt fields you can skip these. For any marsh, lake, pond, or puddle hunting you will need a decent set of waders. You can find a cheaper pair of warm neoprene waders for around $100 or spend up to $1000 on a pair of high tech breathable waders made from Goretex. You want a pair with rubber boots built into them. If you go with a lighter weight breathable pair you have the option of layering up underneath them to stay warm in colder temperatures. The main purpose will be to keep you dry while setting decoys, retrieving birds, and waiting in the reeds.
You will want a couple of basic calls to start waterfowl hunting. You will not sound good right away using them so make sure and start practicing. Pick up double reed calls for your first ones as they will be easier for a beginner to make the right sounds. Get a basic mallard duck call, a goose honk call, and a drake whistle. This will be enough to get started.
Decoys, like calls, are items you will collect over time. They range from relatively cheap to expensive. Just get a few basic mallard duck and Canada goose decoys to start. 12 ducks and 6 geese is enough to get going. The ducks should be a mixture of drakes and hens. You can get some very realistic looking floating decoys now for less than $20 apiece. Make sure they swim keels on the bottom to attach cables to. You will also need some rigging for the decoys. Pick up a pre-made set of texas rigging. It will feature sheathed steel cables with an anchor on one end and a clip on the other. The anchor will keep the decoys from blowing away in the wind while the clip attaches to your decoy.
Get Out And Start Scouting
That’s all you need to get started. There are tons of waterfowl specific items you may want to buy down the road, but getting some waders, calls, decoys, and a shotgun is enough to get out and start chasing some birds around the water. One last tip: Unlike deer hunting, the waterfowl world is a very social sport. Asking around is a great way to find some experienced hunters who are willing to take you out to shoot some birds. Join and support your local Ducks Unlimited chapter and start joining some Facebook waterfowl groups.