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Published Dec 7, 2021 11:00 AM

Duck hunting requires gear. Mountains of it. Sheds full of it. Trailers full of it. Fooling with your gear, taking care of it, organizing it, and, of course, using it in the field, is a big part of the fun of the sport. The right gear helps hunters fool wary ducks and geese, and it helps them stay warm, dry and comfortable while they’re out in the cold. The categories of gear are nearly endless. You have to hide from ducks, call them, trick them, shoot them, clean them and cook them. If you’re buying gifts for a duck hunter and you aren’t a duck hunter yourself, you can be overwhelmed by all the gear on the market. We’re here to help. Most duck hunters are particular about their gear. They have their likes and dislikes. As dedicated waterfowlers ourselves, we know what works.

Take a look at this list of best gifts for duck hunters. You can find proven pieces of gear here ranging from a $17 knife to a $1,700 shotgun. These items will all hold up, too, so the duck hunter on your list with think of you every time they use it, season after season.

Best Hunting Backpack: Rig’Em Right Mudslinger Floating Backpack

Duck hunters need a bag to transport ammo, snacks, extra gloves, hand warmers and all the other little necessities of the sport. I started using the Mudslinger backpack last year and love it. It’s got more than enough room for all my ammo and gear — and that includes a lot of leftover Halloween candy and other creature comforts — and the Mudslinger swallows it all up effortlessly and even leaves room for a baby Mojo mallard decoy on the days I feel like bringing one.

The hard plastic bottom lets the pack stand up and stay dry in the muck. It floats, too, although I have yet to drop it in the water. An outside quick-access pocket is just right for a handful of shells, and a top sunglasses pocket is the perfect place to store my extra headlamp. It has metal loops on the outside so I can pack my birds out hands-free after the hunt. With a paracord handle, canvas construction with OptiFade camo inserts, it’s a good looking pack, too. 

Best Hunting Knife: Opinel No 8

Successful hunts result in birds to process. Whether the duck hunter on your list plucks birds or breasts them, they will need a good knife for fileting, gutting, cutting off wings and legs and the like. Fortunately, there’s a great, inexpensive solution. No less a waterfowl and knife nut than Field & Stream’s Eddie Nickens swears by Opinel knives, which are tough enough to break down your limit and inexpensive enough to give as a stocking stuffer.

Made in the French Alps for 130 years, Opinel’s simple folder features a generously sized wooden handle with a locking ring and a choice of either carbon or stainless steel blades. Stainless steel stays shiny, while carbon takes and holds an edge better. The knives come in 10 sizes, with sizes 6-9 being the best for ducks and geese. Whatever size you pick, this is one of the best gifts for duck hunters.

Best Duck Hunting Shotgun: Beretta A400 Xtreme

Beretta’s A400 Extreme won our recent F&S waterfowl gun test, and it’s a shotgun that any waterfowler would love to own. As a gas-operated semiauto, it’s already a soft-kicking gun, and the addition of Beretta’s Kick-Off Mega recoil reducer and a soft comb tame its recoil even further. It shoots all 2 3/4-, 3- and 3 1/2 -inch loads, and in my experience that includes very light target ammunition that many 3 ½-inch guns won’t cycle, so you can shoot this gun at clays all summer, then hunt with it all fall.

In fact, this gun is proven extremely reliable with any loads, and it’s trouble-free to maintain, too. It is a bulky gun, a trait which I find makes it easy to shoot and difficult to over-control. The A400 Xtreme features the enlarged bolt handle and release that so many waterfowlers prefer these days, and it comes in TrueTimber DRT.

Best Duck Call for Beginners: Haydel’s DR-85  

This easy-blowing, ducky sounding call from Louisiana costs next to nothing and has delivered ducks for hunters at all levels, from novices to guides, for many years. It’s inexpensive and the right size for a stocking stuffer, making it one of the best gifts for duck hunters. Any hunter, no matter what style of call they prefer, may find that some days the ducks want to hear the raspy quacks of the DR-85. It makes an especially good gift for new and young hunters because it’s very easy to make realistic sounds with just a little practice with it. The double reed design of the DR-85 adds a guttural rasp to anyone’s quacks and, as they say about the call “the duck sound is built-in.”

Best Hunting Boots: Cabela’s Zoned Comfort Trac Insulated Rubber Hunting Boots

For those times like field hunts when waders aren’t necessary, a good, warm pair of rubber knee boots makes the best waterfowling footgear. Cabela’s Zoned Comfort Trac knee boots feature different amounts of insulation in different parts of the boot to make them as warm as possible while saving weight. The heel insulates your feet from the cold ground with 200 grams of Primaloft while the instep features 400 grams and the toe box features 800 grams. The uppers are warm, too, with a 3.5 mm neoprene lining inside the rubber outers. The toes and heels have scuff-protecting layers, and aggressive soles will keep sliding in the mud. There is also a women’s version of the same boot with a last cut for the female foot and slightly more insulation. These are great gifts for duck hunters, and anyone else that trods around on muddy fields.

Best Duck Hunting Waders: Cabela‘s SuperMag Chest Waders

Waders top a list of gifts for duck hunters. Having owned a few pairs of Cabela’s neoprene waders, I have come to trust them to keep me dry and comfortable in cold conditions Since my old pair of Cabela’s one-strap neoprenes is still going strong, I haven’t had a chance to try the SuperMags, but I am completely confident recommending them. Made of the same thick, 5mm neoprene with Cabela’s Armor-Flex exterior that make up my waders, and with the addition of knee pads, I can promise they offer plenty of insulation and toughness for breaking ice and walking into hidden snags.

They also feature fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, a top-entry storage pouch and a dozen shell loops. Insulated with 1,600 grams of Thinsulate, the boots keep even my frozen feet warm and have air-bob soles for wading mucky bottoms. And, in these days when you can spend $1,000 for waders, these seem downright reasonable at a quarter of that price. A women’s model is also available.

Best Duck Hunting Blind: Rig’Em Right Waterfowl Panel Blind

Panel blinds are the in thing among mobile hunters right now, and for good reason. You can hide them against fencelines, shorelines, and even out in the open if you put enough natural grasses in the loops on the outside of the blind. Once hidden, you can sit in comfort and stand up to shoot, rather than try to shoot on your back as you must from a layout blind. Also, the hunter on your list who truly does have everything can always use another panel blind, as you can join them together to hold more people, or use them front and back for a better hide.

Rig’Em Right’s entry in the panel blind market holds three hunters. It provides them with gun rests and bags to stow ammo, phones or snacks within easy reach. It has a solid steel frame to help it withstand hard use, and it comes with weight bags that can help stabilize on days when the wind really blows, which happen to be the same days ducks and geese fly hard. Weighing only 20 pounds, the blind folds up for easy transport.

Best Gun Case for Duck Hunting: Drake Side Opening Floating Gun Case

Dropping a gun over the side of a boat — like my Dad did it with a Belgian Browning Auto 5 — doesn’t have to be a disaster. Store your gun in a floating case and all you have to do is pick up the case and put it back in the boat. My favorite floating case for the last few seasons has been Drake’s Side Opening Floating Gun Case.

Just like any other floating gun case, the Drake case contains enough buoyant padding to both protect your gun from bumps on land and to keep it from sinking if it goes overboard. While most floating cases only open at the top, the Drake case has an almost full-length, wide Velcro closure that lets you open the case to dry it and clean it out, which is a huge advantage over other models. It will hold a gun up to 52 inches long. It has an accessory pocket for choke tubes and a shoulder strap.

Best Duck Decoys: Avian-X TopFlight Duck Decoy Pack

Can you ever have enough decoys? The answer is no. Any duck hunter on your list will always appreciate more decoys, and mallards are an appropriate species for almost any duck hunting occasion. The Avian X TopFlight Mallard Outfitter Pack consists of a dozen of the most realistic, most durable duck decoys you can buy. Packed seven drakes and five hens to the dozen, they come in 12 different poses to avoid the cookie cutter look of so many spreads.

Made of tough plastic with some give to it and painted with non-chip paint, these decoys will look good season after season. The keels are designed to make them sit like real ducks and “swim” in slight breezes. To top it off, all the drake heads are fully flocked with a durable material that will help the green heads stand out for years to come.

Best High End Duck Call: 737 No. 1

Oklahoma has become an unlikely waterfowling destination in the last few years. 737 Calls, out of Seminole, OK, have found favor with duck hunters looking for a high-end call. Named for the 737-acre club where founders Dustin Jones and Kyle Sanders still hunt, the company makes several different duck and goose calls. Their original call, the single-reed No. 1, remains the cornerstone of the line and one of the best gifts for duck hunters.

Experienced hunters know that no call reaches out to distant ducks like a single-reed, and the 737 can wail away with the best of them. It can also produce low, ducky sounds to convince nervous flocks to commit to the decoys. Every call is hand-tuned before it leaves Oklahoma, and the acrylic No. 1 comes in a variety of colors. If I were putting one on my Christmas list, I’d ask for the Orange Pearl/Green Pearl combo, but everyone’s tastes are different and there’s a color for everyone.

Field and Stream is here to help you find the most useful and expert shopping recommendations for the best gift ideas. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out more gift guides here: Gift Guide for Fly FishermenFishing Gear Gift Ideas, Best Gifts for Him, Best Fishing Gifts for Fishermen.