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Gear & Accessories

Gear Up for Late-Season Waterfowl

by Joe Genzel   |  November 21st, 2017 0

Here are 15 of the hottest new gear items out there for waterfowlers—just in time for the holidays.

Temperatures are dropping and birds are flying. It’s waterfowl season and you need to get out there into the thick of it. To help your season become a little brighter (and more successful) the editors of Wildfowl have found 15 stand-out products that waterfowlers will love. And they’re all available now, just in time for holiday gift giving.

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Melt-Proof

The question every hunter who doesn’t have one asks: Is a Yeti worth it? If you’ve ever swatted Texas mosquitos as big as blue-wings on a 100-degree teal opener and come back to a cooler full of warm beer, you already know the answer. We were tired of going to Wal-Mart every few months for a cheap-O that couldn’t hold ice, leaked and broke down. If you want to buy one cooler for the rest of your life (caution: Yetis are addictive) snag a High Country 45 or 105. Virtually indestructible and bear-resistant, you’ll never have to worry about those succulent blue-wings going bad on the trek home again. $350–$480 | yeti.com

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Fit vs. Feel

One of the main reasons you will love the XLR5 (available in right- and left-hand models) is the feel. Fabarm made its name in competitive shooting, and the fit so many great clays shooters have enjoyed finally makes its way to waterfowlers. With its Pulse Piston gas system, shells—light and heavy—zip through this 3” 12-gauge dipped in Kryptek Banshee. Oversized controls stop fumbling for the bolt handle, bolt release, safety, and the gorilla-sized trigger guard is made for gloved shooting. The Tribore HP barrels ensure optimal killing patterns with the included chokes. $1,695–$1,875 | fabarmusa.com 

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Pup Perch

A perfect training platform, we also love the quick-hinge system on the Hybrid Slough stand because it allows us to pack this dog stand on long public-land hikes. It’s great for resting gear while your pup goes for a morning dip. Easily adjustable (up to 38”), just slide the four-pin system in and out for the proper height. Integrated leg stubs will hold the stand in place, and the platform (24”x26”) drains fast, so your retriever isn’t sitting in a puddle of cold water the entire hunt. $100 | banded.com

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Goose Xtremes 

An old salt we hunt honkers with still swears by a few dozen wooden mega-goose floaters his father’s father must have carved. His decoys may be retro, but not his rigging, relying on Rig’Em Right’s Xtreme Texas Rig because of its un-snappable 600-pound mono lines and heavy-duty swivels. Available in lengths from 18” to 66” with three- to 12-ounce weights. Nearly impossible to tangle, the Xtreme saves headaches when you break the blocks out after a summer of storage. $26 (start) | rigemright.com

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Editor’s Choice!

Public Land Lover

Sitka’s Sling Choke is what walk-in dreams are made of. The pack has a single strap that allows you to carry the bag in front while lugging decoys and then slip it on your back when it’s time to hunt. A second strap will also secure it around your waist, and an integrated stringer holds limits of greenheads for the walk out. Three zippered pockets hold gear and the interior mesh pouch is a perfect place for drinks and Donettes. A little tight for a full sized camera or thermos and spare jacket, but great for most outings. $149 | sitkagear.com

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Wicked on Wings

What would John Browning think of the new-look Maxus Wicked Wing? He’d probably want to shoot this bad-ass gas-operated 12-gauge as much as we loved it at a test even in August. Finished in Cerakote and Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades, the Maxus won’t gag on 3½” loads, plus we love that oversized bolt handle for feeding shells quick and easy. Only 7 pounds (thanks to the aluminum alloy receiver), the barrel is just 26”, which makes a difference if you hunt from layouts or pits, trust us. And there is no technical term for “really cool-looking,” so we’ll leave that part out. $1,870 | browning.com

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Speck-tacular

If the specks you kill look half this good, you will be calling a taxidermist. True believers in detailed full-bodies know it starts and ends with Dave Smith Decoys. These one-piece specklebellies will have your neighbors breaking out the HD binos to see if your spread is the real deal or flocked fakes. With four different poses, the DSD bar-bellies are available in Combo, Upright and Feeder six-packs. The paint jobs and texture are second to none, (they look better than a live Louisiana speck) and the A.C.E. technology system makes them guide-level rugged. $330 | davesmithdecoys.com

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Modern Mud Marvel

If you are still clutching onto a flip phone tighter than a Jack Miner honker band, don’t sweat the technology of Mud Buddy’s new 44EFI—it does the work for you. The direct throttle control eliminates lag, delivering crisp response and the idle air control gives you a smooth ride as you dock, trailer, troll or pick up decoys. It comes with a 20/50 amp alternator to run all the electronics on your boat. The rev limiter prevents over-revving and the EFI speed sensor measures engine data to deliver the perfect amount of fuel. $9,950 | mudbuddy.com

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Space Saver

Designed with two compartments that Velcro and snap together in the conventional position, the AR1 will open in a linear position so it fits easier in a layout blind. It’s a space-saver that doesn’t skimp on capacity, holding up to eight boxes of shells, which is a killer option to have come snow goose season. It has a tree belt as well for timber hunts. $60 | heavyhauleroutdoorgear.com

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Loaded for Death

Sixteen percent denser than lead, the 3” Backridge ITX13 hits harder than steel or bismuth, so if you’re shooting straight, ducks die…with one shot. Available in No. 2s or 4s, the speeds are a touch slower than most high-velocity steel loads, but you’re also shooting a denser pellet. Backridge is releasing options in 10-, 16-, 20- and 28-gauge, as well as .410 Price TBD | backridgeammunition.com

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Squaw Squeals

Calling sea ducks is typically thought of as an oxymoron, but we have seen long-tailed ducks use that unmistakable high-pitched squeak to locate their buddies on Maine’s Penobscot Bay. This call has us itching to return for another crack at those speedy birds. Brian LaFay has been perfecting this call for three years, and if you’ve ever wanted to put longtails in the decoys, this could be your best tool. We suspect it’s deadly when the fog rolls in. $40 | rconj.com

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Marsh Master

We will dance with this Go-Devil, which like all Warren Coco’s motors, is built to bomb-proof specifications, including a near-indestructible frame lauded as one of the best in the industry. The 35-hp SD includes a three-blade stainless steel prop, electric start and three-year warranty on the Vanguard engine. Expect a top speed of about 28 mph on a 1656-length boat. Options include a rock guard, hot-dipped galvanized frame, tach and hour meter, grab bar kit and a water trap. $5,895 | godevil.com

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Built to Last

The Mossberg 930 Pro Series is a functional gun, purpose-built for hardcore waterfowlers. Treated with boron nitride to ensure a smooth-running action, this 3” auto is finished in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades. A stainless-steel recoil spring stands up to seasons of harsh weather. The tang-mounted safety leads you straight down a vent rib past the fiber-optic sight to your target. It has a great feel, not too bulky like some 12 gauges can be, so you can get on the birds before your buddies. $874 | mossberg.com

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Ready to Rock

Central Flyway honker hunters will love the versatility of the Long Neck Rocker, which has a middle-of-the-road pitch (not too high or low), perfect for chasing multiple subspecies of Canadas. Experienced callers will appreciate the built-in back pressure for crisp notes, and it should help beginners transition easier during a call sequence. The worn in tone channel means its ready to make contest quality sounds straight out of the box. $160 | zinkcalls.com

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Gun Dog Drive

It’s hard to find a higher-quality source of protein than salmon, which is why it’s the No. 1 ingredient in Purina’s new high-energy formula. Pro Plan’s Sport Performance 30/20 protein-to-fat ratio is also chock full of antioxidants, amino acids, and natural sources of glucosamine and Omega-3 fatty acids to help support joint health and overall mobility. $47-$55 | proplan.com

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