In an ongoing series of posts, Balog checks out new waterfowling gear for this season
It's that time of year again. The waterfowling catalogs are hitting the mailboxes, and new displays of duck hunting gear are showing up on store shelves. In the upcoming weeks here on the Duck Blog, I'm going to be checking out as much new-for-2014 gear as possible to give the scoop on what you need -- and what you don't.
We'll start with decoys. There’s a reason they fill the first pages of waterfowl hunting catalogs. Duck and goose hunters just can’t seem to get enough of them. Even if you already have a good spread, there's always a reason to “need” new decoys.
For 2014, manufacturers seem focused on multiple species. Bass Pro Shops alone is offering 11 species! In fact, there are so many winners that we'll break up our report into two editions. But for starters, check these out:
Hardcore Gadwall Floaters
Gadwall numbers have been on a meteoric rise over the past decade. Hardcore Brands has taken note and introduced incredibly realistic decoys to match. In addition to imitating grey ducks, hunters in northern states and Canada know an overall drab look in the early season spreads matches the eclipse plumage ducks are wearing at that time. Hardcore’s ArmorCoat Paint process is said to take abuse year after year without sacrificing realism. In addition, Hardcore decoys are equipped with WhaleTail keels, a design that forces water toward the rear of the keel, thus moving the deocys forward and back, like real swimming ducks, rather than in random circles. Price is $69.99 for six.
Avian-X Topflight Pintails
If there’s a more realistic-looking decoy than the new Avian-X Topflight Pintail, I’ve not seen it. Like all decoy companies, Avian-X advertises the durability of their paint process, but it’s the overall look of these beauties that steals the show. It’s evident that a tremendous amount of observation and research has been done to closely mimic the subtle poses of live ducks. These pintails will have everyone in the blind taking a second look throughout the hunt. Price is $69.99 for six.
Redhead Reality Series Battle Zone Mallard
In addition to offering their popular Redhead Reality Series decoys in every species under the sun, Bass Pro Shops is also offering the mallard in a foam-filled version. Reportedly 35 percent lighter than other foam-filled decoys, these indestructible floaters are hand-painted to exquisite detail. They offer mutiple tie locations on the keel, and come in at a price point that is actually below many non-filled floaters. For the money and durability, how can you go wrong?
Price is $59.99 for six.
DOA Rogue Series Canada Goose Full-Body
New manufacturer DOA produces some great looking decoys, but they also go the distance with engineering. Their Rogue series features a proprietary paint process that allows for "throw and go hunting," and won't become brittle in extreme conditions. The decoys are all one-piece -- no searching for heads and feet during set up, and they feature flocked heads and tails. DOA seems to be solving all the problems before they exist. Price is $209.99 for six.
With a glut of new decoys on the market, I had to limit my picks. But I think you'll see these really seperate themselves from the pack. We'll continue our search in the next installment. But be forewarned; regardless of how happy you are with your current spread, after seeing these beauties, you may decide you need more decoys.
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Realtree waterfowl editor Brian Lovett has been an obsessive duck and goose hunter for more than 30 years, chasing his passion on the Dakota prairies and the marshes and open water of his home state of Wisconsin. He's been a writer and editor in the outdoors industry since 1991.