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BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS: Final checklist for duck season

The cold fronts are pushing through, there is definitely no shortage of water, and the ducks have already started their annual migration. 

All of this points to one major event.  This is an event that is anticipated months in advance by many waterfowlers across the country. OPENING DAY! 

However, before the season starts, you might want to make sure you have everything in order.  Here are a few things you need to check out before the season begins:

1. Waders

If you are going to duck hunt, then you will more than likely be in the water part of the time, which means you will need a pair of waders.

If you plan on using yours from the last season, there are a few things to check. 

First, make sure they don’t leak. Tiny holes or dry rot can lead to a boot full of water, which is no fun for anyone. 

Next, make sure that there are no spiders or bugs in the boot before you put them on. A bite on the foot from a black widow or brown recluse will put a damper on your season for sure.

2.  Shot gun

Before the season starts, make sure your shotgun is in good operating order.  Check the choke to make sure you are shooting one designed for steel shot, and by all means make sure your gun has a plug.  If your gun holds more than three shells total, it is illegal for waterfowl. You will get a ticket.

3. Shells

The first thing to make sure of when it comes to your ammunition for duck hunting is to be sure that you are legal. 

You must shoot non-toxic shot.  Lead is not allowed.  The fines are expensive so be sure you get this one right. 

If you have shells left over from last season, be sure to inspect them.  I have found that it is very common for the brass to rust, which will lead to gun malfunctions.  Carefully clean the rust with some steel wool or properly dispose of the bad shells. 

4. Skeeter spray

I can not promise that you will see any ducks on your first hunt, but I can just about guarantee you will see plenty of mosquitoes. They will more than likely be out in droves.  Be sure to put a can of Deep Woods Off in your blind bag, truck, and boat. Keep three cans just in case you forget one.  It is also a good idea to bring along a Therma Cell.  Nothing will ruins a hunt faster than viscous attacks from skeeters!

5. Boat motor test

It is not uncommon for a duck hunter to park his duck rig after season and not start it again until the next season. 

This is a bad idea. Be sure to test run your motor before the season. It’s also necessary to be sure to grease all of the fittings, especially on mud motors. You don’t want to be the guy holding up traffic at the ramp or having to get towed in.  It’s also no fun to paddle to your blind.  A little preparation goes a long way on this one! 

6. Mask and gloves

When you are packing your gear, make sure to have some lightweight camo gloves and a lightweight face mask or face paint. 

Hands and faces glaring in the sun are sure to spook ducks as the attempt to come into your decoys. 

7. Hunting license

This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. 

Make sure you have the right licenses and permits. You will need a hunting license, a federal duck stamp (signed across the face), a state duck stamp, and your license must have the HIP endorsement.

Depending on your age, you may also need a hunter safety certification. If you plan to hunt on public ground, there may be additional refuge permits necessary as well.  Read the rules and follow them.

A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to hunting as well as most things in life.  I hope you have a great season and your duck straps are full. Do me a favor…. when you see that beautiful sunrise, be sure to give thanks to God for letting you be a duck hunter.

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of the Outdoorsman’s Church in Winnie, owner of DuckDogTrainer.com and outdoors writer for The News.