First-time duck hunters — prepare for sticker shock

So, you think you want to do some duck hunting this year. You’re wondering what you’ll need. All I can say is get the checkbook ready.

A friend of mine recently asked me what he’d need to get started hunting ducks. He’s pretty well-off, and he asked if money were no object, what would I get?

The first thing that came to mind was a hunting lease. It won’t do any good to have all the gear in the world if you don’t have a place to use it. I told him to go hit up his neighbor, who I happen to know has a very attractive pond on his place, at least from a duck’s perspective.

Once he gets the lease, I told him he’ll need to go out and get a shotgun. Maybe a couple. He’ll want to test out five or six guns so he can find the one that fits him well and swings smoothly. Then he’ll need a good pair of waders. Again, probably a few pairs. A breathable pair for warm weather and a thick neoprene pair for cold days would be a good start.

Don’t forget the coat, pants, boots, gloves and hat. Even if he wears his waders, I told him he might want to change into the pants and boots when he gets out of the water. It makes the wait a little more comfortable, provided the blind’s dry.

Then of course there’s the dog. A good, well-bred black lab is a good bet, especially if a top-notch handler can be coerced to train it.

A good call is a must, but I said he might as well get 20 or 30, work with all of them, then decide which one produces the best tones. While he’s ordering those, I told him he should send off for about 20 dozen duck and goose decoys in assorted species and sizes. Then he’ll need a truck and trailer to haul ‘em.

His expression was something you’d see on the face of a juror listening to the facts in the Jeffrey Dahmer case. I admitted it sounded crazy, but it’s what it takes to hunt ducks. Every waterfowler has bought all that and more. The only difference is that most of us accumulate all this stuff over decades, rather than one season. Well, I have to go. I need to help my buddy move his new gun safe into the house.