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Wildfowl Editors Choose The Best New Waterfowl Gear

Sorting through the wide array of guns, gadgets and gear to make our choices for great waterfowling products is a daunting task, simply because there are so many great products out there to choose from. And while the following choices do not by any means cover everything that's available, this lineup of products, from decoys to dog food, will hopefully help make this your best waterfowl season ever.


Maximum Concealment

We love Max-5 for its versatility, because no matter where the ducks and geese go we can follow€¦and blend in. Filled with cattails, reeds, and grasses for the marsh; corn, wheat, oats and sunflowers for fields; and branches, twigs and leaves for flooded timber — it's a go anywhere camo pattern that obliterates the human outline. |


Grand Refuge 2.0

Reinforced at the shins, knees, seat and crotch, the Grand Refuge breathables are a public-land hunter's dream. The zippered chest pouch holds precious items, like MOJO remotes and tins of snuff. A fleece-lined pocket with diagonal zippers and 1,200-gram Thinsulate boots keep hands and feet toasty. Insulated liners are removable and these waders are available in junior and stout sizes as well. Available in Mossy Oak Bottomland, which we are pleased has made a comeback in recent years — probably because it blends in just about anywhere. $270 |


Built to Last

Franchi had us nervous with a 3.5" inertia-driven auto-loader that weighed just seven pounds, but the recoil from the Affinity was manageable (maybe we felt less sting in our shoulders because of the price tag). It may not be as highly-touted as its Benelli brethren, but we've never had an issue with a Franchi other than a hang-up around salt water when we failed to clean and lube. They are workhorse guns with a fancy name that get the job done. The 3.5" comes in black, Realtree Max-5 and Bottomland. There is a 3" option too, that also comes in lefty. $899-$1,149 | 


Feed the Fire


Whether you're an amateur or pro dog trainer, the right food for your retriever is paramount. To get maximum effort on cold calorie-soaking mornings, check out Performance 30/20. Salmon is the No. 1 ingredient, plus the formula is chock full of antioxidants, amino acids, natural sources of glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids to support joint health and mobility.  $47-$55 |


Speed Kills

If you are fanatical about Hevi-Shot, but not its price, Speedball is a fine second option that devastates ducks and geese. Copper-coated steel layered with Hevi-Shot pellets run out the muzzle at up to 1,650 fps. The cork-style ball in the base of the shell controls chamber pressure, making it safe for any shotgun capable of shooting steel. Plus, it doesn't feel like you're shooting a punt gun when the firing pin strikes, unlike other high-velocity loads. Available in 20-gauge as well, in 3" 3s and 5s. $27-$33 (10 shells) |


Made You Look

Every group has a jerk-rig man (the guy who can't blow a call), but it's an important job and probably kills more ducks than a double-reed, particularly on windless mornings. This rig includes a 1½-pound folding anchor, 100 feet of mainline, four oversized clips for attaching decoys and the handle doubles as a string winder. Plus, the floating storage bag keeps you from scouring the marsh floor minutes before shooting time if it takes a dip. $40 |


Stand At Attention

Frozen fields with gobs of honkers dumping in to feed, so hungry they don't circle or spook like wary late-season birds — that's what every goose hunter clamors for. What we don't love is drilling holes thru rock-hard dirt at 3 a.m., trying to stake out dozens of decoys. The new X-Stand motion four-way bases cut down on setup time. Comprised of two U-shaped steel sections, just unfold them and pop on your four Avian-X full-bodies. The kit contains six stands, holding two-dozen decoys. $160 |


Board Games

Early season is our favorite time to run silhouette rigs. We have a few oversized homemade wooden silos to hide amongst (because it's too damn hot to sit in a layout blind or pit), and finish off the spread with Big Al's honkers. Lightweight and easy to stack, they sport a deep matte finish on both sides. Choose between steel stakes in thru-body or H-style. Also available in lessers, ducks, specklebellies and snows. $TBD |


Goose Grinder

If your waterfowling roots are in a sunken pit, chasing giant honkers over cut corn, this is your piece of gear. The Gradient Hoody is a super-sweatshirt, lined with Berber fleece, for hunters who don't want to wear cumbersome parkas in tight spaces, though all of Sitka's clothing is made to stretch with you, even their cold-weather jackets. The Gradient can be layered under a shell also, and the built-in face mask is genius. $199 |


Pure Performance

Made for a righty or wrong-eye dominant left-handers like us, Fabarm's XLR5 is built on a Pulse Piston gas system, so 3" shells cycle with ease and your shoulder won't throb after a morning of non-stop greenhead action. Over-sized controls put an end to fumbling for the bolt handle, bolt release, safety, and the gorilla-sized trigger guard is made for gloved shooting. The Tribore HP barrels ensure consistent killing patterns with included chokes. $1,695 | 

11.-davesmithdecoys-WIFP-170900-GU-008Real Deal

If you're meticulous about goose spreads, then this is the decoy. As realistic as it gets — we've seen buddies fall for these fakes from some short distances — the one-piece DSD Honker comes in nine unique poses and was built with realistic cast legs and painted with accurate colors. The motion system allows the decoy and base to stay connected, so no more digging for stands in a dark trailer. $400 (6-pk) |


Heat Retention

Warmer, but lighter than most waders, the Echo XL's Retain Active material keeps body heat up, but allows you to move freely. The steel shank, neoprene-lined rubber boots have cleated outsoles for added traction. Suspenders with reversible buckles, heavy-duty D-rings, adjustable zippered side panels and a two-way zippered pocket that doubles as a handwarmer make Arctic Shield an excellent choice for fall. $400 |



We have worn these from Alaska to Argentina with great satisfaction. Failure is not an option when it comes to waders, so Banded built a set from advanced materials and fully-taped seams, and reinforced key wear areas like the knees with an additional 900-denier facing. Get the uninsulated Redzones for warm-weather hunts, or go with the 1,600-gram Thinsulate model with a proprietary Heat Absorbing Retention System. Integrated gaiters protect the boot-upper seams against failure. $380-$400 |


Dog Vault

Addison Edmunds designed the G1 out of necessity: He was tired of replacing flimsy plastic crates and wanted to keep his gun dog safe en route to the blind. Gunner Kennels are double-walled, offering two layers of protection. The Intermediate kennel is the first and only 5-star crash-test rated canine travel crate. It features a lockable door, rubber feet so it won't slip in the bed of your truck, tie-down pins so you can strap the kennel down for extra security, plus a host of other options. Available in three sizes to fit any gun dog. $350-$700 |


Killer in the Corn

Heavy Hauler's F3 has all the amenities we look for in a layout blind. First, it's light thanks to the durable heat-treated aluminum frame. Next, it's roomy, but low-profile enough that it doesn't stick out above the decoys like lesser layouts. It also features a padded backrest/seat, and storage for your goose flag inside the doors, so you won't have to go looking for it when that first flock lifts off the roost. Check out the new linear AR-1 layout bag ($60) as an accessory. $250 |


Better Access

The soft-sided Hopper Two goes beyond duck season. Load it with ice, and will keep  birds fresh for days on that bucket-list trip to Canada. Take it on the boat for summer fishing trips and it keeps your brew cold no matter how high the mercury rises. What makes this cooler (available in sizes 12, 20, 30, 40 and the new 8 and 18), is the new zipper. First generation Hoppers had a top zipper that made it a bit difficult to load and unload, and your wife constantly broke her fingernails trying to unzip it. This new version, which comes in Gray/Blue or Field Tan/Blaze Orange, is much easier to access, so when the hunt's done you can get to the beer quicker. $200-$400 |


Safety First

Pelican makes some excellent hard cases to keep water from damaging cameras and other electronics, and the Storm Case doesn't disappoint. With 1,700-cubic inches of storage, the HPX polymer shell defends expensive equipment against abuse. Dust-proof, you can customize this case at $173 |

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