April 16, 2024
This is a list of innovative tools for waterfowl hunting that have taken place in the last thirty years or so, that we take for granted when chasing ducks and geese. 

Revolutionary Tools In Waterfowl Hunting

By: Justin Hunold

A bit ago we talked about the advent of percussion caps and the advancements in shotgun shells after that happened. We also looked at the point in time that we could pluck a hunter out of , put him into a modern duck blind and he’d fit right in. That seemingly happened in the 1960’s, but if he were in that blind what are some things he would see that would maybe astonish him. Tools that we look at on a daily basis as common but just a short 50-60 years ago would be revolutionary, if not altogether foreign?

This is a list of innovative tools for waterfowl hunting that have taken place in the last thirty years or so, that we take for granted when chasing ducks and geese. 

Modern Shotgun Finishes are almost impervious to natural conditions

Shotguns-Let’s start with something near and dear to our hearts here at Retay, shotguns. While the hunter from the 1960’s may have been toting a good semi automatic there was a higher probability that he was using a pump, side by side or an over under. With the advent of astoundingly reliable semi automatics like our Gordion or Masai Mara it’s becoming rarer and rarer to see anything other than a fast cycling, reliable and nimble semi in the blind. 

That’s not to say that a good pump like the Retay GPS XL doesn’t have a place because, it certainly does but the push in Inertia operated shotguns was nothing that the hunter of the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s could have ever predicted. In those days it was commonplace for a semi to be more of a problem than an advantage but our industry has sought to move past that. Retay is at the head of the pack with the Inertia Plus bolt design. 

We could go over the normally stated advancement in magnum shotguns, making 3 and 3.5 inch offerings the norm but that horse has been beaten to death. And a lot of folks are back to shooting 20 gauges for waterfowl and to great effect. So, let’s look at something that is overlooked and undervalued, shotgun finishes. 

When “Plastic” guns started to make appearances back in the 1980’s traditional hunters scoffed at them but the synthetic stocked guns started to impress with their ability to operate in any weather condition, and the owners lack of fear of scratching the gun. Now it’s a talking point to see a wood gun out on a hunt.
With the advent of synthetic, hydro dipped guns came next. With the plastic and matte finish of the modern shotguns these guns became great testbeds for all sorts of camouflage finishes. With these coatings the guns became very weather resistant. Again, camo guns are now a normalcy. A lot of the time the guns will have aggressive texturing and molded sling attachments as well. These camo finishes are great for ease of maintenance. Wipe em down with a Dude Wipe and some oil on the moving parts and you’re good to go, but there is one more that is now the gold standard. 

Cerakote is a baked-on hard finish that bonds to the metal of the gun. Now your gun can be whatever color you choose, and be basically impervious to all weather conditions. My own Masai Mara is the Grey Light version, I don’t worry about any weather conditions. I’ve dunked it and put it right in the case for travel without a second thought. The 1960’s hunter had absolutely no option to do that with his blued and wood gun. Again, all we have to do is make sure the internals are cleaned out when we get home after a hunt in a salt marsh or freezing rain and that Cerakote gun will be good to go the next time we call it up to bat. 

When spinning wing decoys work nothing works better

Spinning Wing Decoys -Spinning wing decoys were REVOLUTIONARY when they hit the market in the late 90’s and hunter’s have more versions to choose from now than ever. They are so good at drawing ducks they aren’t legal everywhere. Think about that for a second. Now imagine that hunter from the 1960’s seeing a spinner for the first time. Imagine when you turn it on with a remote, and then kill it when that first swirl of birds locks up, ready to light into the spread, what is that 1960’s dude thinking? 

In a time when people are searching out hand carved decoys and vintage decoys to use in their spreads our retro hunter would be totally at home, but if there was ever a magic bullet when it comes to decoying birds it is likely a spinner or maybe some other form of battery powered motion. 

This has become a double edged sword though, currently we often opt out of spinners for a more subtle motion in the decoys. But make no mistake they still work and the old timer would try to fit that thing in his Delorean to get it back to his mid century spread. 

Lighting makes us more successful and safer when working predawn

LED Lighting-Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Modern hunters aren’t the almighty but there are plenty of times our modern lighting options are a miracle in comparison to even twenty years ago. We light up the predawn as if we were running and gunning in broad daylight and we are better for it. 

Whether it’s a simple headlamp with multiple color lights or LED Deck, or LED Light Bars and spots these things are awesome. I remember when a Mag Light was the goto, or if you were a cool guy you might have one of those military style angle head D cell flashlights. Now, you’d never think about taking anything other than a headlamp out for personal use. 

We underestimate how much more successful and safer we are because of these lights. We are able to be more precise in all of our set ups with our personal headlamps. We are able to get in with long walks or paddles because of the little gems and light up some back water in a way that would have taken a car battery and a spot light just a short time ago. 

We are safer in those pre dawn races to the “Spot” because of the relatively inexpensive investment in on board lighting for our boats. And from there we are able to see where we are going and what we are doing. 

The deck lighting is not only great for general use, but let’s not forget we are out there with firearms. We are always responsible with our guns but the rules of firearms safety always apply. When we can see what’s going on with those guns we are safer. So, deck lighting adds safety in ways we might not even think about.  

Would these be the only things our “old timer” would notice? Absolutely not! He’d probably mention that computer phone thing you have attached to your hand, face paint, camo, waders, and a million other observations, but these things are worth mentioning first. They are often overlooked in different ways. We will probably dive into some of the others in upcoming articles. So next time you turn your lights on, put you spinner out and load your Retay before the first flight of the morning, just nod your head to how good we have it. And don’t forget to occasionally lose yourself in this thought experiment -Would you be out there if you didn’t have it so good? Would you do it the way that hunter from the 1960’s did if you had to? Do you love it like that? 

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