Hunting calls are great, but they take some time to learn to use and this can take a lot of practice. They aren’t a necessity for a good hunt but many folks swear by them. A mallard call is a good basic piece to start learning on as it can make the approximately eight different sounds that are useful. A bad call sound is worse than no call and will send the ducks straight away – kind of counter-productive, so you might want to practice at home before you hit the field or forego the call entirely if the knack just doesn’t come to you.
Naturally, there are some other little items you likely have around the house that can come in handy on any outdoor excursion. Binoculars are great and a multi-tool like a Leatherman will likely find a few uses. A coffee thermos can help fight off the chill and keep you out there longer, as will a power bar or other snack. A small first aid kit and a cheap rain poncho are never bad ideas as well. Hopefully, you’ll need a bag or at least some rope to help carry your haul out – this doesn’t need to be anything special or expensive either. Most of your duck hunting gear can be likely to be carried in a 5-gallon bucket, which has the advantage of being waterproof and which will come in handy as a seat as well. A can of 99 cent spray paint will dull down an old one from the garage.
Opinions vary about types of blinds and as you get into the sport you will probably want some type fairly soon. This might mean building a fixed blind on your property if you’re lucky enough to have a good spot or it might mean looking into the many portable options. They can be a great help to remaining invisible to the ducks but aren’t a must especially if you are just starting out. It’s more important to be in dull colors, be patient and sit still. Look for natural brushy areas you can use for a bit of cover – this will be more effective than the most expensive blind if it doesn’t match the duck’s environment almost perfectly.
If you are like thousands of other hunters, you’ll find the thrill of duck hunting is worth the cold, wet weather and the eventual cost of specialty equipment. In the meantime, you can certainly get out there and get started with just basic gear and add on as you learn. Just remember to hunt safely, follow local laws (including buying a license with duck stamp and wearing orange where required), and most of all, enjoy yourself. You’ve joined the company of some great sportsmen from down through the ages!