January 13, 2023 Waterfowl Gear You Need What should you buy now to get ready for next year? By : Justin Hunold First Birds, on the First Day The early bird gets the worm, or something like that. Listen, as waterfowl hunters we are constantly in a quest to be the first, or the earliest or chasing that prime opportunity. First at the ramp, first to a spot, first fresh birds, first shooting light, opening day, first season, early Teal, early goose….you get the point. But listen, right now, as we creep into seasons closing, you should be first in line to fix or amend the shit that broke or didn’t work this past season. You can never be too early to start getting ready for next season. Here are some things you should be looking at getting right and tight for fall’s first flight. We all have gear on our list. Right now is an amazing time to scour those clearance sales and find next year’s best gear at a discount. Will it be the newest pattern or the coolest thing on the block, maybe not, but will you or the birds actually notice? Also probably not. Here’s a secret its not just changing of the seasons that prompt good prices for consumers, but also for retailers on the wholesale level. So, check those sites for chances to get gear at amazing prices. Maybe someday I will go over the pricing theories at a retail level, but let’s just say at some point that old inventory is costing more than it’s worth to not discount it. Decoys are hard to store for retailers and normally get a big late season discount for sake of floor space. Decoys- Decoys are big, bulky, heavy and hard to display. Think about it this way, how many Lucky Craft lures can a store fit in the area that a box of full body Canadas take up? The answer is a ton, and they retail for $15 a pop. So, decoys are something that gets discounted heavily quickly. Keep an eye out for whatever you need to fill out your spread. I promise if they fooled birds the past few seasons next year’s model probably won’t do it any better. Camouflage Clothing- So, the model here is let’s have some legacy products, think Bottomland, and then let’s release the new stuff every few years because hunters are trendy and like to match. When those new patterns hit they may look great, they may help you blend in better, but they certainly boost sales for the camo company releasing them. When this happens you will see deep discounts in the flagship camo from the year before. You may also see this when an apparel company loses the licensing rights to that particular camo, or a sponsorship change on a major player of the prostaff. Whatever the reason, jump on last year’s clothing now in prep for next year. Hunting Accessories- Calls, Choke Tubes, Blind Bags, Muffs, Blinds, Decoy Rigs the list goes on. Remember that in a lot of retailers the waterfowl aisles turn over into the spring turkey aisles. That change over normally leads to some chances at high end gear at a lower price. Full Disclosure, I worked in big box retail for a long time and some of my most expensive and best sounding calls came out of the display cases when it was time to turn those aisles over. The sweetest sounding turkey call I’ve ever owned was an Original, first production year Primos Power Crystal and that was because it was good and broken in when I bought it out of the display case for next to nothing, even though that call isn’t expensive to begin with. Don’t get me started on my Original BGB Wide Open… My Muff straight up unraveled on me on its second hunt this year. You know the kind that hold shells and some gear and snaps to the D rings on your waders? Yeah mine came apart on hunt number two and I just never replaced it this year. I tried to limp it along with paracord and zip ties like any good redneck but man it sucked. I’ll be getting a new one from somewhere else this off season. Some other things I will be packing in my blind bag before I put it up are a few pairs of elbow length rubber gloves, because they are light, cheap and totally waterproof, and at least one extra headlamp and a pair of inexpensive sunglasses. I’d rather bring the extra couple ounces out on every hunt and always be prepared than not have the stuff when I need it. Kinda like a side arm. Also most of this will have reviews from the previous season, and post on social media and videos showing use in the field on YouTube. Just like voting, you should be using your gun early and often Now, between waterfowl and turkey season is a great time to get more familiar with your gun. I have specific guns for both of these seasons. Now that I am done chasing quacking birds and will shift to chasing gobbling ones I will be taking my Masai Mara apart and cleaning it thoroughly. I will also take my Gordion Turkey out and check the optic and make sure it’s pattern and point of impact is still as perfect as last year. If I want to make a change in chokes, optics, ammo or slings now is the time. Since I will be shooting my turkey gun I will also bring out my waterfowl gun and check all of the same stuff. I want to make sure I’m very familiar with where my guns shoot, if I need to make any shim adjustments, choke changes or even if the shells I bought mid season on a suggestion are doing what I’m thinking they should. If I were you I would be looking over Market Place and Craigslist for a new to you boat or watercraft if that’s on the books. This is the time of year people start to unload that stuff. The reason the timing of now is important is because people are generally looking to get out of that stuff at a reasonable price. In two months spring will be here and they will want a premium on watercraft, they’ll take less in January and February in most of the country. Is any of this earth shattering? No. But I’m covering it because today I hung up my decoys for their spring and summer slumber and thought about what I should be using with them next season. I pulled my Masai Mara out of its case and set it out in line for a good cleaning. And I threw that piece of shit muff into the garbage where it belonged when I took it out of the box. This season is done for me as of today. But next season started as soon as I typed the first word of this article. I’m so happy it’s always hunting season.