I know this is an old post but as a beginner with one season under my belt I can attest to the quality of the information dispensed in this post. I didn't read this before now but luckily with research and educated guesses in terms of gear purchases I've blindly followed the beaten path described in this post. I started (last fall) with a synthetic 870 express, hip waders a brown fleece and a fleece mask. Since then I got a set of 6 Avian-X Mallard decoys, 6 GHG GW Teal decoys, a quackhead J frame single reed call, Buck Gardener Double Nasty II, and his whistle on a nice Avery paracord lanyard. After skinny dipping my way to D1 at SJ after Tom assured us my hip waders were sufficient to get to the check upgraded to some cabelas waders and hand warmer/shell holder. Also got a drake full zip hooded wader jacket to upgrade the Marine Corps issue desert fleece (plus it's waterproof). I plan on upgrading the shotgun next week with a Winchester SX3 in camo. It doesn't quite follow suit like the rest of th OP's post but I found some spare change and it's the one luxury I really like. Plus my fat face has to nearly imbed itself into the stock to get a good look down the low profile rib of my 870. Add a jerk string to my decoys and I'm set for now.