By Bill Miller
Between resident Canada goose seasons already open in this neck of the woods and the onset of scouting for the duck opener in a few weeks, my old pickup has begun its annual conversion to what my wife calls “The Duck Truck.” The collection of gear in the backseat, bed, and toolbox will continue to mount through the season until by somewhere about Christmastime I need to tell my hunting buddies to meet me at the goose field because there’s only room for me and the dog!
The annual collection starts with scouting gear. The Number One tool that saves steps and time are binoculars. Don’t mess around with junk. Get some quality optics like Vortex Diamondbacks. In fact, good glasses should stay in every one of you vehicles all year long!
When you leave the truck for a better scouting vantage or climb into a pre-frost alfalfa field layout blind, bug repellant is essential. Again you’ll be glad to have the best you can find like Sawyer Maxi-Deet.
You’ll want the miscellaneous gear, too, for fixing up blinds, removing downed trees from last year’s trails to the slough, and miscellaneous chores you’ll encounter every day. A Coleman Folding Saw in the truck and an Ontario Knife Company Drop Point in every blind bag and scouting kit works out pretty well. This knife will take you from whittling twigs waiting on the woodies through dressing the last of the late season mallards for the table!
Through the course of a waterfowling season, a single blind bag just isn’t going to cut it. You’re far better off setting up multiple bags to handle different hunting situations. The needs you have on an early teal hunt are significantly different from hunting snow geese in the fields which is different from mallards in the timber which is different from layout shooting on open water which is… you get the picture.
There are a lot of good bags out there, but you might find “righter” sizing and more versatility in looking at bags that are traditionally considered range bags rather than blind bags. Check out the Voo Doo Tactical 2-in-1, Red Rock Range Bag, Boyt Tactical Shooters Bag, and the Red Rock Recon Sling Style Bag. This last one carries comfortably slung over your shoulder and stays in place even when you’re wading through boot-sucking muck.
While most of the contents vary from bag to bag, some of the gear is universal. Besides the knife, each should carry a quick shotgun cleaning kit like the Hoppe’s Boresnake. You may need it yourself or perhaps you’ll need to rescue your bud’s shooting iron. Consider keeping a complete cleaning kit like the Brownells Basic Cleaning Kit back in the Duck Truck. If somebody stuffs a barrel full of mud, you’ll appreciate not having to end the hunting day to handle it.
So much for the “accessories” the Duck Truck carries around. Let’s get to the heavy stuff!
Some guys buy cases of one brand and type of ammo to take them through the whole hunting season, but the Duck Truck seems to collect a variety.
I appreciate state-of-ballistic-science, high-tech, high-end ammo and use it often. Loads like Federal Black Cloud, Environ Hevi Metal, and Remington Hypersonic Steel reach out and solidly tag big honkers and down-laden, late-season greenheads. There are days when nothing less will do.
But then there are days when the birds are working well. You’re shooting teal, gads, woodies, and mid-season mallards with their webs reaching toward the decoys. There’s no need to spend a buck a shell on those days. So it pays to keep a supply of less expensive rounds at the ready. That’s where Federal Speed-Shok, Remington Nitro Steel, Winchester Drylock SuperSteel and Super X Xpert Steel, and Environ Hevi Steel come in handy. Lay in at least a few boxes in the smallest shot sizes, like #7s, too. These work great for finishing crips on the water and put you in good stead when you come across a great dove field during your scouting missions or after bagging a limit of early Canadas.
The Guns & Gear
When the seasons open, the Duck Truck constantly conceals and carries at least two shotguns, often a good many more than that. Why at least two? That way there’s always a spare if one goes down, plus at anytime I can invite a friend or landowner who wasn’t planning on hunting that day to join me – if he or she is licensed, of course.
Because their residence in the truck can span several months at a stretch, each shotgun should ride in a case. Go for something simple and that can breathe just in case a gun gets put away a tiny bit wet. Something like the Bob Allen Canvas Gun Case is great for the truck ride, and you can always keep an extra waterproof case for carrying the gun into the field and for the boat rides and the end of the blind where the dog shakes.
Shotguns have to earn their ride in the Duck Truck. Tricking them out to optimize their duck and goose hunting effectiveness move them up the “must have” list.
Chokes carefully patterned and selected for the hunting situation make any shotgun more versatile. Carlson’s Waterfowl 2 Tube and 3 Tube sets offer all the options you’re likely to need regardless of which shells you end up shooting.
Versatility is also maximized by adding a Hiviz Comp Sight out on the end of the rib. Multiple colors and sizes of light tubes allow you to adjust to any lighting and background condition you encounter.
Every waterfowling shotgun also needs a sling. They are comfortable for long slogs to and from the blind and free up your hands for carrying other gear … and that stringer of fat greenheads at the end of the day.
Even though we’re just getting started, it’s not hard to see how the Duck Truck becomes a tight squeeze by the end of the long duck and goose season … is it?