You’ve decided to take the plunge and join the great wide world of waterfowl hunting, or maybe you’ve been hunting for years and just need to upgrade. Either way you are in the market for a new waterfowl gun and aren’t quite sure what you are looking for. Let me give you some tips to point you in the right direction.
- Size Matters – waterfowl hunters have successfully dropped birds with a variety of shotgun gauges but the overwhelming favorite is without a doubt the 12gauge. Ducks and geese are strong, durable birds designed to withstand the worst nature can offer, so it goes without saying it takes a strong firearm to drop them. Most hunters will find a gun chambered in 3” significant for both ducks and geese, however, those who routinely hunt larger species at maximum distance many want to consider the magnum 31/2 “
- Not Your Daddy’s Rabbit Gun– Yes, you can hunt ducks with the same shotgun you use for rabbits and you will probably do okay. But, if you use a shotgun specifically designed and manufactured for waterfowl hunting your will find everything becomes just a little bit easier and your gear will last longer. I prefer a barrel length of 28-30” range and would highly discourage anything less than 26”. I would also recommend ensuring your selection has larger glove friendly actions, triggers and releases – if not consider having them installed, it will be well worth it during a late season single digit hunt.
- Durability is #1 – When it comes to waterfowl hunting it is not a matter of IF you and your gear will be get wet, it is only a question of when. With that in mind it is vital that your new shotgun be designed to withstand repeated exposure to wet conditions and even being dunked. Synthetic stocks are all the rage and definitely hold up to the elements better than traditional wood, plus they come in a variety of camo patterns as well as black. You also want to ensure the finish is more durable than simple bluing and the internal components should also be treated for better corrosion resistance. Finally, select a model which is easy to breakdown and reassemble – you will thank yourself when doing so after a cold day in the blind.
- Action – shotguns come in three sections; break away, pump and autoloader. While the break away may steal the stage at the gun club or when protecting the coach from hostiles it has little place in the marsh. The ability to hold the maximum number of rounds, fire those rounds as quickly as possible and reload as easily as you can is vital to putting ducks on the ground. The actual choice between pump or autoloader become more a cost of personal preference and cost, both are capable of filling limits in the hands of a trained shooter However, if you are not knowledgeable about guns other than knowing how to shoot them there are advantages to going with a more traditional pump. Even the best modern autoloaders do require a little more care than their pump counterparts and can be prone to malfunction at a greater rate. But if you are a confident in your ability to maintain an autoloader and can afford to shoot quality loads don’t let this discourage you from adding one to your arsenal.