Waterfowl Boat Checklist

By Ryan Eder

Most hunters are “gear guys”; we want to have the right equipment for every situation and even if we do not need it, it helps us sleep at night knowing we are prepared anyway. The duck boat is a special place. It is a mobile hide that we essentially live out of at least for a day at a time. It is amazing how much gear we need to spend a full day (or more) out in the marsh, or on the lake or river to hunt ducks. Here are a few “must-have’s” for the duck boat.

Relatively speaking, most duck boats are 16’ up to 26’ long. While that may vary, it is important to focus on that size range for safety requirements set by the U.S. Coast Guard. The following items are not just a must have based on duck hunting, they are legally required. Most of these items are pretty self-explanatory as the sole purpose of them is to save a life in the event of an accident on the water.
• Coast Guard approved life vest (1 per passenger)
• Throwable floatation device
• Air horn or whistle (noise making device)
• Flare gun
• Fire extinguisher
• Proper registration and licenses
• First aid kit

Here is a basic checklist of other gear for the duck boat:

Decoys and decoy bags – I highly recommend having your decoys in some kind of bag (we even use pop up hampers like a college student uses in their dorm!). Scattered decoys make it hard to move about the boat.

Boat blind – pretty self explanatory here, you and the boat have to be concealed to have birds commit.

Push pole – for cleaning and setting decoys in shallow water, as well as guiding the boat in shallow water.

Dog ladder – having an easy-on ladder for the dog is a must. They will appreciate it and so will you! Maybe a ladder/platform combo!

Dog Supplies – extra food, blankets, canine survival kit, etc. Your best friend should be just as comfortable as you.

Spare paddle – you never know when the engine will have problems and can’t make the repair on water. A paddle is 100 times better than using your hands or feet or best case scenario waiting for a tow.

Duct tape / Repair tape – in case a fuel line has an issue, or general repairs needed both types of tape are must on the boat.

Burlap, camo netting or real/artificial brush – the motor needs to be covered and if you have a boat blind of any kind, you’ll want to conceal the hunters from above (gap between the front and back of blind from above).

Floating gun case – trust me, if it doesn’t float try not to have it on the boat!

Anchor – just in case you need to secure a location and there is no other options.

Dry storage – if the boat has none, bring a sealed container to keep important things dry such as wallet, shotgun shells, cell phone, etc.

Survival kit – including strike-anywhere matches in a waterproof container, a candle, space blanket, multi-tool, survival snacks, and parachute cord

Extra clothes – a full change of clothes (underwear to parka) in a waterproof canoe bag. If a hunter falls into the water, dry clothes will help ward off hypothermia.

Hard-hat spotlight – a must for any boat hunter that allows for illumination while leaving your hands free.

Fuel stabilizer – Protection to the gas lines to prevent freezing and moisture build up.

Tool chest – This is a no brainer, the last thing you want is not be able to repair simple fixes on the boat if need be because you don’t have proper tools to do the fix.

Quick starting spray – this can be a headache saver when that old engine is giving you fits.

Small chain saw – this might sound like overkill but a small chainsaw can come in handy when exploring up stream or some hard to get to areas. A chainsaw can make quick work of an obstacle and set you on your way for greener pastures.

Limb pruners – These are great for hiding the boat in brush when you position along the bank. You can trim limbs and brush quickly and quietly with them and conceal your boat to blend in even more so with your surroundings.

Stout nylon rope – pretty self-explanatory, every boat should have security lines to tie off with.

One-burner camp stove/heater – There is nothing more comforting than a hot cup of coffee or a quick hunter’s breakfast in the boat. Use extreme caution when dealing with fire, nothing is more dangerous to a boat than fire.

Hand-held GPS – Even in Iowa where people say it’s hard to get lost you should always have some sort of GPS unit with you. Some of the larger lakes can be a bit tricky to navigate and remember where you are so it is pretty smart to have a GPS or mapping tool with you. Today’s cell phones come equipped with mapping aps that will do the trick. These are not only for finding your way back to dock, but also to make sure you can notify someone of your current location.

Spare Parts – You should always carry in a dry storage bag or tote extra spare parts that you might need (spark plugs, fuel lines, boat plug, battery, etc.). Obviously you can’t have a spare part for everything so focus on the common ones that tend to be needed more frequently than others.

Food/Water – a day on the water would be pretty miserable without hydration and energy. Pack some water or other beverages (no alcohol) and a few energy snacks to help you make it to meal time.

Seating With Back Support – an aching back can turn a good hunt into a miserable one in a matter of minutes. If possible try and bring some sort of back support with you, if the boat you are hunting on doesn’t have high back seats.

Extra Gas – you should always go on the water with a full tank, but human’s forget or if you happen to burn more than you expected an extra gallon of gas can make life easier on you.

Honestly the list can go on and on based off of your personal preferences, but the list above should get you everything you need to have a safe, comfortable, and successful time on the waterfowl boat. One last thing to remember is to print out or write down your checklist a few nights before your outing and have your gear ready to go. When you pack an item check it off and you should never have any issues of forgetting your gear. Good luck this fall!