I got a Harbst call the day before I left for North Dakota on a 14-day hunting trip. I didn’t blow it for more than 5 minutes before heading out. It is a multicolor all acrylic double reed. I almost always have a double reed on my lanyard although I usually prefer a single reed (old school). This call really surprised me. It is really loud for a double reed and has a GREAT sound. I love it when you get a call that you KNOW the guy who built it took pride in tuning it for YOU. This may be the best pure duck sound producing call I use. Dave’s Grade A++.
Lucky Duck HD Spinner
I bought a pair of the HD Lucky Duck Spinners for my fall trip to North Dakota. What sold them to me was their look and the easy sync to a remote. One remote for both spinners plus the ability to put them on constant to intermittent timer. They come with a good stake system and I liked them a lot out of the box. Once in the field things started to change. First the remote transmitter quit within the first 20 minutes of the hunt. Bad battery. I made a trip to town (28 miles one way) for a battery and we got ready for day two. After running for about an hour I the wings were not in sync (one was slipping on the shaft). In hour two the wing fell off. I turned the unit off and used one the rest of the day. That night I took it apart and tightened a set screw on the shaft. Problem solved? Next morning set up and within an hour the same wing is coming off and I notice the other decoy’s wings are not in sync. That night took them apart, again, and re-tightened all four wings. For good measure I added a drop of super glue on the screw head. Next day all the wings stayed on and only one of the decoys wings slipped. I contacted Lucky Duck after my hunt and asked if there is a recommended fix for this problem. They informed they had not heard of others having this problem but would send me a new set of wing joint attachments for both decoys. Now I watched a couple of episodes of The Grind (Waterfowl hunting show using Lucky Duck Gear) and can see that during their shows there are glimpses of the HD Lucky Duck Spinners with the wings out of sync; my conclusion is may be a more common problem then acknowledged. Dave’s Grade C.
Sutter Basin Duck Calls
I got a single reed Sutter Basin Duck Call for my trip to North Dakota. It is an all acrylic green model. It is crisp and loud. I prefer a single reed in most situations. This call performs well across the range from hail calls to chatter. I liked it so much I kept it on my lanyard every day of the trip. When I need to reach out to ducks in the distance this call rang out! Sharp looking and good sounding; my kind of call. Dave’s Grade A+.
Mr. Heater 9000-BTU Portable Radiant Propane Heater.
On my trip to North Dakota this year I was planning to stay in a sleeper unit inside a 20’ decoy trailer. I purchased this heater to use in the trailer for the nights which I knew would be COLD. The compact heater uses small propane bottles. The heater puts out great heat. My issues occurred at 1 to 2 AM when it would shut off and I could not get it restarted. Luckily, I had a couple of propane lanterns that I turned on to provide slightly inadequate heat. I took a trip into Minot to exchange the heater during the trip. The new heater worked well one night and then a repeat of the performance of the earlier heater occurred. Dave’s grade D.
Northern Custom Calls
Late Summer this year I got a pair of double reed duck calls from Northern Custom Calls. One in acrylic and one in wooden mouth piece and acrylic sound chamber. They are SHARP Looking Calls~! Both sound great and make an easy feeding chuckle and content quacks. Great finishing calls. So much of my duck hunting is in areas were realistic, subtle calling is important. These calls are “ducky”. Dave’s Grade A.
Let-Em-Lite Duck Calls
This call is made from the highest-grade acrylic you can buy and also made from some of the best-looking acrylic you have seen. These calls have aluminum bands that have been anodized to different colors, to match the particular call. These calls sound awesome and look awesome. If you want a one of a kind call, pick a call out of the many and you will not be disappointed. I love the raspy quack, the rolling deep chuckle. This will always be on my lanyard. I can’t wait to bust some Mallards over the prairie this October. Dave’s grade A+.
Sillosock 3D Sentry Mallard
I picked up a dozen of these to add motion and density to a couple dozen full body duck decoys I use when field hunting. The look is outstanding. The heads and colors of the sock are great. My concern is in the body and that they do not collapse well. This makes them less durable then some alternatives on the market. Dave’s Grade C.
Dr. Dogs Ear Oil
All pets can suffer from ear mites and/or ear infection symptoms. Dr. Dogs Ear Oil is a natural remedy for treating ear mites, killing adults and eggs as they hatch. Boo, my white lab began having symptoms of ear problems; shaking his head and rubbing his ears. Inspection showed some irritation in the ear cannel. I am not a fan of using overly-harsh chemical treatment and asked around for opinions on what works best. I heard from other dog owners and my own vet that Dr. Dogs Ear Oil was the way to go. A few drops in the ears and immediately the dog calmed. I now do weekly drops as a preventative to keep the dogs healthy and happy. Dr. Dogs Ear Oil earns a Dave’s Grade A.
Lucky Duck Decoy Deceiver
I am always looking for an edge for ducks and geese. Realistic motion that will not spook geese always helps kill geese. I purchased a pair of these decoy stands that turn your decoys to get more birds feet down in the spread. However, they are a little pricey ($100 a pair), and the movement is what is advertised but is so minimal I can’t believe it makes any difference to the geese. It might be great on a Turkey decoy, but in Oregon where I mostly turkey hunt, you can’t use them. They will not be making the trip with me next season. Dave’s Grade a C-.
I drive a 2008 F250 “Duck Truck”. Primarily, I am towing a 20’ decoy trailer and I own a couple of different boats that are pulled and one 28’ camp trailer. I was told, and I believe, that if you own a low sulfur diesel you need to use fuel additives to get and keep optimum performance. Opti-Lube XPD is the ultimate in performance diesel fuel additives. The best diesel fuel additive on the market. I have measurable better fuel economy and noticeable improved acceleration.
Opti-Lube XPD’s primary purpose is to increase the lubricity properties of ultra low sulfur diesels (ULSD). However, improving Lubricity is just the beginning. XPD Formula is a multi-functional additive for upgrading the quality and enhancing the performance of diesel fuels. It improves lubricity, efficiency, cleans injectors, improves Cetane by up to 3 points and contains an anti-gel to keep your fuel flowing down to -10° F.* Opti-Lube XPD earns Dave’s grade A+.
Flambeau Storm Front Blue Wing Teal Decoys
Here in Oregon we rarely see Blue Wing Teal but every year on my trip to North Dakota we see TONS of them. Last year I wanted to add some BWT to my water spread. I picked up a dozen of these as I like the body positions and their over-all look. I also like the keel and anchor ties (multiple spots to change how they ride the water). However, after using them less then half-a-dozen times I noticed some significant paint loss on five of the decoys. Not good. Dave’s grade C.
I finally purchased a pair of these high end sunglasses and initially I loved them. By far the best sunglasses I have owned; also by far the most expensive at $204. With in a month of owning them while talking to my buddy in the driveway my new glasses fell off my hat and hit the driveway. This resulted in a scratched lens. Now the warranty states Costa will repair glasses for a "nominal" fee. For my glasses "nominal " = $95. I paid it as I already had the 240 invested. Three months later I dropped them again and now have another scratch on the lens. Again the glasses are great but not durable enough to justify the view. Dave's Grade, C.
The RIVER GATOR Mallard decoy catch any current in creeks, streams and rivers~The end result is a life like side to side motion without motors, batteries, remotes or jerk strings! Perfect in any spread~When it comes to ducks, motion kills, and River Gators provide the maximum of motion without jerk strings or batteries! I started with a four pack and now have eight in my spread. I like them so much I will double that number by next fall. Dave' s Grade A.
Taiga Cooler ~ Living the Cooler Life
I finally bit the bullet and got me a high end cooler. After looking over several of the top brands I finalized my selection and choose a Taiga Cooler. The reason being I am impressed with their construction. Nearly indestructible. I like the idea of the last cooler I will ever buy! Besides the durability, they are built “true to size” and really offer a better space to cost value. I got the 55 quart cooler in camo green. It is solid; which is nice because at times it doubles as a seat in my boat. I recently took my Taiga Cooler on an extended hunting trip to North Dakota. I loaded it with two smaller blocks of ice, packed it tight with food then put cold ice over the top. I covered the cooler on the 2 day trip to Minot. When I got there, it was like I packed it yesterday with very little melt of the ice. I was impressed! Dave’s Grade A+.
I hunt in a lot of different environments. One of my favorite is in the potholes in North Dakota. These potholes hold birds. Unfortunately they are silt filled, sticky, gunky, muddy were everything slides and eventually ends up in the mud; including you and your gun. This past trip I brought a tool to keep my gun clean and me safe from firing a plugged barrel. An SRB Waterfowlers Rest is a simple yet ingenious improvement to the stick in the mud solutions I have been employing. The SRB Field Rests Waterfowl Set includes 2 metal sockets bolted to 2-31″ adjustable extensions and 2 durable plastic rests. This 2 piece waterfowl set is awesome in the flooded fields, marshes or anywhere there is shallow water and ducks! I also will be using mine in the spring when I go after turkeys. Dave’s Grade A.
Anser decoys have unique features. First, the look is outstanding. Feather detail and flocked heads make them look like geese. Second, the construction is exceptional. Stiff fiberglass posts with a hard plastic skeleton. Head connections, something I have had trouble with other popular windsocks are terrific. Solid. Picking them up by the head has not caused disconnection issues. A unique feature of these wind socks is the side feeder decoy, Anser decoys are the only maker of a side filing wind sock. It greatly enhances the natural look of the spread.
I suspect a full spread of Anser decoys would kill birds. However, I use my Anser Canada decoys as a way to enhance motion in a spread of primarily full body flocked Avians. They look good mixed in and with just a slight wind make the spread look alive. Just a dozen mixed into three dozen full bodies can be the difference from your spread looking like little goose statues to mimicking a feeding flock in a prime field.
Take a moment and check them out. And remember when able, support American made! Dave's Grade A.
My latest addition to my lanyard is a Baptized Short Reed Goose Call. I liked the way it looked when I ordered it, but LOVE the way it sounds. Having a longer barrel then my other short reeds gives it more bottom end, a really nice moan and throaty “Err Honk” greeting call.
It produces the best clucks of any call I have owned….. and I have owned a few! Moderately priced, beautiful, with a quality sound Baptized Goose Call earns Dave’s Grade of an A+
Northern Guide Breathable Boot Foot ~ by Waterfowl Wading Systems
Functionality and innovation characterize this multi-featured Wader with the finest materials right here in the U.S.A. These waders are designed to overachieve~! The advanced new Northern Guide Bootfoot waders offer HD Soft material combined with CaddisDry™ fabric for maximum comfort. Large hand warmer pockets and easy-access ammo pockets on the chest offer security and convenience. These waders feature reinforced knees and seats, triple sealed seams and high-density rubber sole boots. They wear lik a pair of jeans or overalls. I hated wearing my heavy neoprene waders which had me sweating and lumbering around. These breathable waders allowed me to walk into my hunting area without over heating and I moved in and out of the layouts easily. I LOVE these. It is easy to see they are over built and I anticipate many years of service. Dave’s Grade A ++++.
Duck Blind Bistro
Duck Blind Bistro is billed as the Ultimate Outdoor Oven. The actual goal of providing a superior quality cooking utensil for outdoor enthusiasts in my view has been met! It is a durable, cast aluminum construction which is lite weight and highly functional. This tool allows you to cook biscuits, calzones, cinnamon rolls and more while in your blind. It is designed to be taken apart and used as a multipurpose utensil doubling as two skillets. It can be used on a propane stove, wood fire or any heat source. I have used this tool while out fishing and while on a picnic with the family. I CAN’T WIAT to take this out duck hunting. There are few morning hunts in the cold that wouldn’t be better with a hot biscuit. I highly recommend all outdoorsman check out the Duck Blind Bistro. Dave’s Grade A+.
I had a neighbor visit the house one evening and mentioned that my labs were making quite a racket during the day while I was at work. Now, I have used bark collars in the past but doing so when you are not around is risking your dogs health. In concern, I checked around and found Bark Blaster ~ A GREAT way to condition your dog to reduce his barking. In a day, my labs learned that the hydrant "Beep" indicated they would get sprayed and dramatically reduced their barking. Dave's Grade A+.
I own a lot of camo clothing. But until this purchase, I didn't own snow camo. Honestly, I don't hunt Waterfowl often in the snow....I do occasionally. What I do is hunt coyotes in the winter. This purchase provided me a quality, durable, warm light weight perfect camo jacket for winter habitat. I know guys who go in "All white" suites but at 100 yards this camo is undetectable in a snowy environment. I love this garment~ Daves Grade A+
Dave and Dogs Tested Gear
Relixx Lanyards~The Signature~I got one of these beautiful lanyards for my brother. I love the style. It truly is impressive. It features a multi-color braid on the neck section and a spiral braid on the chest section of the lanyard. I picked out orange and green. This lanyard has four double drops. Three wrap hangman knots are tight. You can choose your colors and have a whistle clip instead of a call drop, and choose to make all call drops as single or paired drops. It holds plenty of calls and gives the option of "Double Call Drops" for call security. Iam really impressed with the tight weave which gives you a stiff lanyard so you can slide it on your chest while in a layout situation. Dave's Grade an A.
You can get this lanyard at https://www.manmadecustoms.com
Momarsh's Invilab Dog Blind. I purchase this blind to hunt North Dakota Pot Holes this fall. We hunt in some potholes that require you to get "into" the marsh past the reeds. This puts Chase in the water. Building reed mats just isn't cutting it. SO I got this Blind. I like that it is adjustable and will get him out of the water. I like the screen windows on the sides and that you can open or close back and front entrances. It is not as stable as I had hoped and when the legs are folded, (to allow field use) the floor is "lumpy" and hard for Chase to be comfortable. Dave's Grade C+.