It’s in the Bag

A blind bag can tell you a lot about a duck hunter. A giant bag stuffed with food, clothes, extra calls, a foot-long Maglite, a weather radio, and other assorted devices likely resides in a permanent blind, a boat, or one of those basement-size pit blinds. By contrast, a blind bag that seems hardly big enough to hold a handful of shotshells and a couple of cheese crackers probably belongs to a hunter who slogs deep into the flooded timber or hides within the cocoon-like confines of a laydown blind. No matter how much fun it is to accumulate the stuff you need to handle all the “what ifs” of waterfowling, circumstances usually dictate how much of it you can actually take with you on a duck hunt.

When I first moved to Memphis and started hunting out of rice field pits, I carried a full-size, bursting-at-the-seams blind bag that housed the following:

  • neoprene gloves—for making my hands feel colder while picking up decoys
  • a facemask—dutifully worn and despised; I’ve always been a hat guy
  • a box of duck loads—which translated to 12 shells, since half of every box ended up in the wriggling primordial ooze in the bottom of the pit
  • a box of never-opened goose loads—you never know when you might be overtaken by the white tornado
  • a game strap—for me, the ultimate symbol of hope
  • half a box of raspberry breakfast bars—the filet mignon of duck blind foods
  • a 3-cell aluminum flashlight—to ward off pit mates who attempted to steal my breakfast bars
  • a dozen or so backup duck calls—each tuned for hunting slightly different weather conditions
  • sunglasses—never used due to the goofiness of wearing shades with a camo facemask
  • a small first-aid kit—to mend gushing wounds resulting from full-on wars with the pit’s flip-top
  • a knife—to extricate my clothing whenever I was defeated by the flip-top
  • a camera—a useful magnet for dust and other debris that found its way inside the blind bag
  • a weather radio—for listening to the ravages of winter weather in faraway places and inducing delusions of snowstorms and full limits
  • two or three choke tubes—in case the birds and I differed in our interpretation of “over the decoys”
  • a few chemical handwarmers and a pair of Arctic-weight insulated gloves—you never know when a polar front might unexpectedly descend on you

After a season or two of hauling all this stuff around, I downsized to an Avery Guide bag, a midsize man purse capable of holding, surprisingly, most of the items on the list above. I had to toss out the camera and the weather radio, but all the rest could be wheedled and cajoled into the Guide bag—even though the fit was so tight that retrieving any one item meant emptying all the contents onto the pit’s foot-wide bench seat.

Eventually, my things fell off the bench and into the ooze for the last time, and I vowed to lay off hunting ducks from a pit blind for a while. Now I hunt rice fields from the supine comfort of a mummy blind—a Drake Stake-Out blind to be exact. If you’ve never tried this type of hunting, it may be difficult to imagine how exciting it can be, or how confining. Very little room remains after you have slithered into the blind. Clearly, the Guide bag was a luxury I could no longer afford. To remove an item from the bag, I had to release the blind’s tops, sit up, put the bag on top of the coffin blind, get what I needed, and then find a way to squeeze the bag back inside with me. Simply getting my hands on a breakfast bar burned more calories than the beloved snack offered.

Obviously, I needed a smaller bag, so now I’ve switched to an Avery Power Hunter bag, a miniscule satchel designed for ground blind hunters. Here’s what’s inside:

  • a box of duck loads (I keep six goose loads in the bag’s shell loops)
  • neoprene decoy gloves
  • midweight insulated gloves (only when it’s cold)
  • a cap light
  • a laminated sunrise/sunset chart
  • my hunting wallet with my licenses

It’s amazing what you can do without when circumstances demand it. I abandoned the hateful facemask and now paint up instead. I switched to a cap light for setting up, so I leave my big flashlight/food protector in the pickup. Ever the optimist, I still carry my game strap, but now I clip it to a D-ring on my tiny blind bag. I stick with the four duck and two speck calls on my lanyard and make do without the bagful of backups. And the modified choke tube in my Benelli gets the job done just fine, so I rarely carry an extra tube. Everything else that once resided in my blind bag now stays in the truck or at the house. I don’t know if a simplified approach is truly better, but simpler sure is easier to haul around.

How about you? What kind of blind bag do you carry into the field and what things will you put inside it this duck season?

–Tom

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33 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    coyotefeeder said,

    Pair of sock, Hand Warmers,Ligter,Two boxes of duck load and ten goose shells,lots of water to drink,dog food, and that my freind is a good day.

  2. 2

    adam said,

    I thought any food brought to the blind is fair game? I quess the oldtimers got me on that one. Last year I just tossed a box of shells in my pocket and headed out. Last Christmas I received a hand me down smaller bag that hold the essentals:
    3-20 OZ. mountain dews
    1-box of goose/duck shells(I figure goose shells will kill ducks twice)
    1 pound Jerkey
    Cell Phone (to call in sick)
    and my hunting wallet

  3. 3

    Johnny said,

    I have an avery bag too. I can stuff in there a box or two of shells(depends on where I go)2 gatorades. crackers, pop tarts. a few hand warmers. half a roll of butt paper in a sandwhich bag. a few calls, gloves. Headlamp. Its not very big so I might have to take somethings out to get to others. Sometimes I wish I could bring more. But usually does the trick.

  4. 4

    Robin said,

    I use an Avery Bag. Same type of stuff shells, headlamp, plus a small pack of baby wipes, they are very handy if you get in a bind.

  5. 5

    Tony said,

    I have at least 10 bags that I have used – including some of the bags mentioned, but I have been using a small / medium sized Bass Pro blind bag for the past two years – because it works. I carry it all over the country and it always has what I need. 2 or 3 boxes of shells, choke tubes, calls, smail binos, face mask, gloves, hunting wallet, game strap,shell belt, Snickers bar, hard compartment for the camo shades, compartment for small flashlights, outside sleeve for my Mountain Dew – it goes where I go. When a bag is not practical, I take what I need and put it in the pockets of my Drake coat – its like a blind bag that you wear.

  6. 6

    harris said,

    game strap
    jerk string
    30 – 3″ steel BB’s
    payday candy bar large (one bite goes to the dog)
    bottle of water
    string facemask (hot)
    fleece Yukon facemask/hood (cold)
    goretex gloves (cold)
    cat eye hat light
    leatherman
    this all fits in an Avery guide bag
    I sling the bag over one shoulder and my gun over the other so both hands are free

  7. 7

    Jim said,

    lanyard with 4/5 of my favorite calls & a whistle for the dog
    2 breakfast fruit bars & some trail mix
    some “scoby snacks” for Simba
    head mount light
    pair of wool gloves
    face paint
    face mask if it gets really cold
    compact gun cleaning kit (it saved someone else’s hunt a few times)
    first aid kit (especially if I hunt with Omar)
    my clip on the waders shell holder ( 1 box)
    a couple of hand warmers
    and a good knife
    all in a medium sized soft bag with shoulder strap

  8. 8

    Jim said,

    Oh! and don’t forget the TP in a sandwich size freezer bag ( for when “nature” calls)

  9. 9

    justin said,

    cant forget the TP

  10. 10

    Hunter said,

    I use a medium sized blind bag from Avery. My list includes:

    2 Boxes of shells- One box of smaller pellets (4′s or 3′s) and a box of larger pellets (2′s, 1′s or BB)
    1 Small flashlight
    1 Clip on light
    Toilet paper in a sandwich bag
    Topo map, sunrise/sunset chart
    Small binoculars
    Compass
    Lighter
    Extra plug for the boat
    Various extra fuses
    Extra kill switch for the boat
    Half roll of duct tape
    Head net
    Gloves
    Sunglasses and sunglasses hard case
    Flagging tape
    Half roll of decoy cord
    Choke Tubes

  11. 11

    P.C. said,

    T.P.. Small bottle of hand sanitizer. Extra gloves & hats. Hat light & extra batteries. Hand & foot warmers. Wader/boot repair kit. First Aid kit. Medication. Sunglasses. Multi-tool. Cable ties. Thermos. Extra calls. Camo duct (duck) tape. Hunting License. State game laws/waterfowl regs. booklet. Waterfowl I.D. booklets/cards. Plastic grocery bags. Nylons (for birds going to the taxidermist). ‘O’ rings for autos. Ammo. Water bottle. Munchies. This list will adapt to areas being hunted, Weather conditions, Hunting partners (who forget things), And on & on.

  12. 12

    Mike said,

    I use a camo backpack I bought at Wal-Mart. It usually has the following in it:

    Toilet Paper
    Call Lanyard with 2 or 3 duck calls and a short reed goose call that I don’t blow very well
    2 boxes of shells duck and goose
    neck gator
    skull cap ( I hunt in ND)
    Neoprene Gloves
    3 chewy granola bars
    2 mountain dews (the official drink of all duck hunters)
    a cap light
    wader straps (for the ankles)
    a small gun cleaning kit
    a game strap

    Wow now that I think about it, that’s a lot of stuff.

  13. 13

    TomCat said,

    For my small blind bag I go light.
    Most everything seems to end up in a jacket pockets anyway.

    3 Duck calls + 1 whistle
    2 boxes 3″ – #2s + 6 rds. – 3 1/2″ – T shot
    1 game strap
    License wallet
    compass
    6 Chemical warmers
    12 cable ties
    Choke tube wrench
    Lighter
    Leatherman
    Deak cord
    Small binocculars
    Head mount LED light + Spare batteries
    Duck sausage, crackers, hot sauce & 2 pepsi’s
    For extra cold mornings – small baggie jalapenio’s

  14. 14

    Russ said,

    I hunt with a Avery blind bag.Wool fingerless gloves,neoprene gauntlet gloves,surefire flashlight,5to6 ziplock bags1 just for dog snacks,box#3 3inch shells,6 #2s incase of geese,2 water bottles 1 for me 1 for Mack my Lab,a knife,xtra decoy line,small first aid kit for mack in case and camera for those unforgetable mishaps or missed shots and just for the memories. To The Fallin Game Russ

  15. 15

    JR said,

    I guess Im on the overloaded side, my bag usually goes like this;
    2 or 3 boxes duck loads
    1 box goose shells (3 shells of which get loaded occasionally then put back in the box)
    game strap
    neo gloves
    wool fingerless gloves
    head lamp
    head net
    face paint
    hand warmer
    camo beanie (for when the ball cap is too cold)
    5 or 6 calls
    choke tubes
    sun glasses
    dog collar remote
    1 liter mountain dew
    a rock star energy drink
    crackers
    candy bar
    maybe some little debbies
    and a bottle of water
    anything that wont fit can go in the gun box in the boat.

    you know just the essentials.

  16. 16

    MTfowler said,

    I use an Avery blind bag to hold a box of goose loads, ducks loads, game strap, headlamp and small flashlight, license, extra hat, game laws, fleece mask, lanyard w/calls, bullet bottle thermos, 2 pairs of gloves, “snack bars’, grass clippers for brushing in the blind, twine for decoys, 3 chokes, small digital camera, knife, multi tool, bottle of advil, first aid bandages, GPS, and the most valuable item of all…..5 big sections of paper towel for the obvious! If I’m in a boat for the day, I bring the Avery blind bag so I can bring more stuff and stay out in the field all day.

  17. 17

    Brian said,

    Sometimes trying to find the downed duck in the tall weeds is fun – we don’t have a dog, so I’ve gotten a nice small thing to bring that has helped us a lot! Take an old telescoping radio antenna and tie on a bunch of neon plastic ribbon tape to the top of it…..I extend it and hold it so its well above my head and thereby above the tall weeds…..and my buddy guides me thru the weeds until I’m “in the area” where we both saw the duck land. He can’t see me – but he can see the neon tape – we’ve never been able NOT to find our prize!
    Along with TP – I carry a small travel/purse pack of those Cottonelle wet wipes…..they come in handy cleaning off hands…..and other body parts too when the TP is all gone!

  18. 18

    Scott said,

    Blind bags are too bulky and always end up wet when I hunt a marsh. 20 duck loads a hopeful handful of goose loads, package of poptarts, rope with a slip knot at either end (instead of a game strap… it fits in the coat pocket much better), extra pair of jersey gloves and 1 extra duck call… for back up and a ball cap light.

    Any more wouldn’t be roughin’ it.

  19. 19

    Bobby O said,

    I use a Camo Camelback backpack (bladder removed), mainly hunt our farms field blinds that we access by ATV, and then hide them. Contents: 1 box #3 duck loads, 1 box BB duck loads (windy days), couple of 20ox ‘Dews, candy bars (well hidden), Leatherman tool, 2 Avery duck stringers (somebody always forgot theirs), small digital camera and compact binoculars, cased sunglasses,jerky, cigars in small tupperware, facemask, ear-flap cap or neck gaiter, AA penlight w/lanyard, Avery neoprene shellbelt, walkie-talkie, 2x cheaters (to assemble the Robo with those little clips for the wings), light gloves and a waist-belt handwarmer, hotpacks, and 1/2 roll of TP in a ziplock baggie (corn ‘paper’ is just too rough, even for an emergency!)
    Mainly hunt with hip waders and long T, camo flannel shirt and camo fleece vest down to about 35F, then switch to Chest waders, long sleeve T and my Drake Camo Anorak, which is almost too warm unless its 20F or below.

  20. 20

    EHC said,

    Looking at everybody’s lists, I’d say the collective unconscious of duck hunters is pretty strong. In addition to most of this gear (snickers and extra gloves are essential), I also bring along a small limb saw so I can get hidden just right but still get my gun up if we have to move along the edge of some of the sloughs we hunt. Is it December yet?!

  21. 21

    Matt D said,

    Wow — lots of variety above, and hate to say it, but i seem to be inline as well. Carry an Avery Guide bag (with the DU logo) – random assortment of loose 12GA 3″ steel (roughly 3 boxes ranging from #2′s to BBB) some homemade turkey jerky, the Cottonelle Travel TP (’bout a 1/2 roll in proctective plastic), extra pair of socks to warm my feet(for when i accidently over top my waders on the retrieve), Couple of soda’s or bottles of water, lanyard with calls (3 duck, 1 goose and the whistle), sharp knife, extra pair of gloves, and 1 walkie talkie (with built in weather radio, my hunting buddy has the other), gamestrap and finally the headlamp.

    Other than the blind bag, end up carrying a bag ‘o’ decoys (1-1/2 doz), little swamp stool, little heater (coleman sportcat) and the firepower :D all of this to trudge about a mile back into the swamp to set up at ~4am… but oh how I love that day!

  22. 22

    Ben said,

    Red Head floater bag:
    Two boxes of shells
    Face net
    Extra gloves
    3 duck calls and 1 goose
    Head lamp
    cell phone
    camera
    bottle of water
    can of copenhagen
    Seems to be working I went with the floater bag due to a flipped boat and a lost video camera. recommend it highly it even come with a built in light so you aren’t scramblin around for that nicotine fix

  23. 23

    Rob said,

    I have a brand new Boyt blind bag, from the Sponsor’s table at our most recent DU banquet. It is larger than the previous bag, so I don’t know what I will add, but somewhat in order of need, I already carry;
    At least one full box of 3in #2′s for ducks and one full box of 3-1/2in something for the geese.
    My dog whistle
    A lanyard with four calls, two duck, one teal, and combo drake mallard, widgeon whistle. And a couple of goose calls.
    A big ole thermos of black coffee-old school
    Sandwiches, if I got up real early, or last years Snickers and Kit Kats, this years apples.
    First aid kit. I’m the guide.
    Extra gloves and socks.
    Radio. I remember when the NCAA would only allow three Michigan Football games to be televised, so we had no choice.
    Duck strap. Got to think positive.
    Decoy cord for rigging a jerker on calm days.
    Dog treats, not necessarily her first choice.
    Camera, also for ballast.
    A copy of the regulations. That’s a wood duck, not a river duck.
    Cell phone, to find out how poorly others are doing or is it just me.
    Surgical gloves, trash bag, knife, can opener, oh, there’s another Snickers, face mask, bug spray.

  24. 24

    Zane Clardy said,

    Well i carry the duck commander blind bag. If anyone is looking for a bag almost equivalent to the avery blind bag at a little better price its a good bag, even though the avery is better. My necessities include:
    a random assortment of shells mostly 2′s but some 3′s and 4′s and bb’s
    hunting licenses
    fleece facemask
    pair of neoprene decoy gloves
    pair of wool gloves
    pair of surgeon gloves(put them under your wool gloves and you will NEVER feel the wind
    gotta have the TP
    3 duck calls/2 goose calls
    Electronic Collar remote/and whistle
    2 or 3 packs of cheese crackers
    and the most important atleast a half can of Grizzly Straight, if its a stressful morning you may need a whole can.
    Thats a winning combo right there

  25. 25

    Chris Sr. said,

    We mainly hunt from boats so, I have an old Planno plastic box that is huge ( I like it) but I don’t think it is made anymore. Inside is 4 boxes of shells ( we’ll shoot two in order to get two birds pass shooting), gloves, 1 wood duck call, spotlight, 1st aid stuff, other centerfire rounds ( in case we see a deer or hog ), toilet paper, vienna sausages, insulated face mask, strong LED headlamp, 12v. adapters, hunting lic., markers, spare gps batteries, shot shell bandolier (full), string, keys for a padlock on a ladder stand that was stolen years ago ( I might find it ! ), reflective clip on markers and flagging tape ( just in case, I always forget I have it), matches and lighters, and change for a phone call or something.
    If I need to go into the woods I have a smaller but, large fanny pack for lights gloves, scents, bullets and a canteen and VHF radio.

  26. 26

    The great white hunter said,

    hunting license
    2 box of duck loads
    A few goose rounds, more depending on season and location
    grizzly straight
    grizzly straight
    grizzly straight
    gun cleaning kit
    phone
    compass
    gloves
    knife

  27. 27

    Jim said,

    One thing I didn’t mention because it is usually in my jacket pocket or clipped on my waiders is a GPS. It’s great for finding the blind in the dark, especially in fog! I made a believer out of “Old Birdeye” in this gadget…it helps if you know how to use it before getting out on the lake.

  28. 28

    Bryant said,

    I do a lot of walk in hunting so carrying the dekes and a big bulky bag with the gun just isn’t practical. So i Keep it light and essential. In the bag 2 boxes of 3″ 2s or BBs capable of ducks or geese. A cap light, a gerber folding knife and an extra pair of light gloves. I wear the calls out there, have a leatherman and the handwarmers in the coat pocket.

  29. 29

    JESSE BERARD said,

    At the open of season I remove the rear seat of my jeep & load up a large lockable
    storage box with just about everything I own for duck hunting.For years I used
    a big blind bag that could hold just about everything (and most of the time did)that
    was in my storage box.Last year I switched to a Final Approach hip bag (just sounds
    more manly than fanny pack)and a shell belt.I found that scaling down has made me
    less capable of taking a lot of gear I just don’t need.I can make any adjustments
    to what I need to take in the field by opening up my (hunting closet)I mean the back of
    jeep and change from mild to cold,dry to wet,ducks to geese,and so on.My motto;
    “take it all,carry what you need”you just never know what this game is going to throw at
    you. Let feathers fall & the B.S. fly!Good hunting!

  30. 30

    Nick-Okie not from Muskogee said,

    I have a Redhead Blind Bag about a medium size bag.
    2 boxes 3 1/2” #3′s
    1 box 3 1/2” BB’s
    2 pair wool gloves
    1 pair neoprene decoy gloves
    3 calls
    1 knife & multi-tool
    2 chokes
    1 choke wrench
    1 camo beanie
    1 kneck gater(in Oklahoma you never know when a cold snap migt turn up)
    camera
    cell phone
    license
    shell bag(in case ducks are working behind us I can load it and leave the rest
    of my stuff in the blind and go,seems like we are always on the fly.)
    fleece hand warmer
    6 chemical hand warmers
    copy of hunting regs w/ sunrise chart
    notebook & pen
    bottled water
    some snacks of some sort(not that i can keep my partner in a blind long
    enough to get hungry)
    small flaslight
    clip on light
    extra batteries
    flagging tape
    binoculars
    face paint
    I think that is just about it. No wonder I am so tired when i get
    back home.I have only been seriously duck hunting for the
    past five years. I dont know how i didnt get into it sooner. That
    is what the notebook is for,I try to keep track of favorable conditions.
    Go Sooners!!!

  31. 31

    TC said,

    TP is the most important thing after shells. I mainly hunt long walk-in marsh spots, so I’m already tied up with decoy bag and shotgun. Repel is essential because it doesn’t get cold in SETX until Dec or Jan. Just bought an Avery handwarmer pouch that will double as a shoulder slung bag to carry the light weight essentials, plus doubles as a handwarmer for the colder weather that we receive.

  32. 32

    FC said,

    Agree on TP being top priority after shells–and the small package of wet-wipes is a great suggestion I’ll be putting into practice going forward.

    If you hunt with a dog: A couple tea bags (just regular old black tea… aka Lipton) are great for helping a cut paw/pad stop bleeding–it’s also been said that it helps ease pain… but I can’t seem to get a straight answer from Jake. Just get the bag wet, and hold on the pad for a minute.

  33. 33

    TomCat said,

    THIS WEEK I ADDED A THERMA CELL MOSQUITO REPELLER. MOST OF MY HUNTS ARE IN N.W. FLORIDA FROM A LAYOUT BOAT BLIND. EVEN IN OUR COLD WINTERS (30-35 DEGREES) THE MOSQUITO’S AND NO SEE-UM’S WILL SUCK YOU DRY. FOUND THIS THERMA CELL TO WORK GREAT. BY THE WAY 2 WOODIES & 2 GREEN TEALS YESTERDAY. MAYBE WE’LL MEET IN S.E. TEXAS THIS YEAR IF I CAN AFFORD THE GAS. KEEP DUCK’N


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