In hunting, just like in real estate, the key thing is location. You can have all the tools or know all the different tricks, but one of the things that will most dictate whether you have a successful hunt or not is where you do it. Determining where to hunt will depend on many things such as your knowledge of the area, the ability to get to that area, the time you have to hunt, etc.
In this article, we are going to focus on using kayaks to hunt waterfowl. We will show how doing this will help you to maximize the locations you can get to when you go hunting for waterfowl, help you be more successful and also help make the experience more interesting and relaxing.
However, using a boat to go hunting isn’t as simple as just grabbing a boat and heading out. There are some things in terms of safety and strategy that anyone considering adapting this technique should know before they start hunting in a kayak. We will go into detail about some of these things to help answer any questions about this type of hunting and to try and prepare you as best as possible should you decide to go hunting waterfowl by kayak.
Why a kayak?
If you’ve ever had the chance to use a kayak for leisure you know that it can be a very relaxing, easy and inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoors. Well, it is not that different for hunting with a kayak. You get the same level of enjoyment, but hunting waterfowl by kayak offers you a few distinct ways to improve the experience. Let’s take a look at what we mean.
Go where other hunters cannot go
This is a key advantage that using a kayak will offer you. By not limiting yourself to shallow waters that you can walk in or too deep waters where you can operate a motorized boat, you will be able to access more secluded and untouched hunting areas.
This will give you access to waterfowl populations that are less disturbed and perhaps less adapted to being hunted. This, plus the decreased chance of running into another hunter, is a big advantage and is one of the reasons why hunting waterfowl in this way can be so effective.
Lightweight, portable, stable and maneuverable
Kayaks can easily be carried by one or two people and they can be put on top of almost any car. In this way, you can bring your kayak to a variety of different places so that you can try out new hunting areas and help improve your chances when hunting.
Also, because kayaks are so small and come with broad, flat bottoms, they can be safely and easily maneuvered into small creeks or shallow waters. This will allow you to greatly expand the area you are hunting in, which will help you be a more effective hunter.
Since kayaks are operated manually with just a paddle, they make virtually no noise. This is especially important when hunting waterfowl because of how easily your target can get spooked by small noises. Being able to stalk around undisturbed or untouched areas will give you more access to waterfowl and will increase your ability to hunt them.
Tips for hunting waterfowl by kayak
It should be pretty clear by now as to why people use kayaks for hunting waterfowl. They offer some nice perks and can make your experience much more enjoyable. However, as we mentioned earlier, it is not as simple as just picking up a kayak, getting into the water and hunting.
There are some things you should consider first that will help you out. We are going to discuss some of these tips and techniques to help you get a better idea as to how to use this hunting method.
Use your kayak for scouting
The increased mobility and overall stealth afforded by using a kayak for hunting will allow you to be a much more effective scout. Once you settle in on an area you can take your kayak around the different parts of the lake or pond where you are hunting to get an idea as to where the waterfowl you are going after might be. Look towards exposed tidal flats for things like prints, feathers, and food availability. You can also look for where would be an ideal place to set up decoys.
Also, you can use your kayak to scout more than one area in a day. Since you do not have to deal with the hassle of launching and hauling a boat, you can start in one area, use your kayak to scout it out and then if you don’t think the area is good enough you can put it back in the car and head somewhere else. Using a kayak to hunt waterfowl gives you a lot of advantages and can really change how you hunt, but it is important to make the most out of these opportunities.
Camouflage your kayak
Experienced and non-experienced waterfowl hunters alike will recognize the extreme importance of blending in with your surroundings when hunting for these types of animals. Well, using a kayak for this type of hunting is no different.
When you buy a kayak they will come in all sorts of colors, from drab olive green to camouflage. However, it is probably a good idea for you to know where you might want to do your hunting before settling on a specific type or color.
One helpful thing that you could do is invest in a camouflage net that you can apply to the kayak and then take it off when you don’t want it. Also, you could make your own additions to your kayak based on the area where you will be hunting.
For example, if you will be hunting in an area with lots of cattails, you could attach some of these to the boat to help make it blend in easier. Doing things like this will allow you to effectively hide yourself when you are hunting, but it allows you to be flexible when you change locations or want to alter how your kayak looks.
Protect your gun
This is an important thing to consider not only for hunting effectiveness but also for safety Water can have very negative effects on the performance and the condition of your gun so it is important you take the proper steps to protect it so that you will not ruin it and so that it will function properly when you want to use it. A good way to do this is to carry a floating waterproof case where you can store your gun while you are in the kayak.
As you paddle around drops of water will come into the boat and if your gun is exposed it will get wet. Storing it in one of these cases while you are not using it will help to prevent any unwanted water damage, which will protect your gun and also ensure it doesn’t malfunction when you go to use it.
Another thing to do to help keep your gun dry is to carry a rag and a can of oil grease with you. When you use the gun or if you notice that it has gotten some water on it, you can wipe it down with the rag and give it some protection to prevent long-term damage.
Since you will not be standing straight up, but rather sitting and floating in the water, you will need to adjust how you shoot and in what position you do it into not only make sure you are accurate but also to make sure you do not tip the boat over because of the force of the gun. There are three main techniques you can use that will help make shooting from the kayak easier and more effective.
- Rest up against something sturdy. If you have found an area that looks promising and you want to hang around for a while to hopefully get a shot, it would be a good idea to look for a shallow part of the water or some vegetation to rest the kayak up against. By doing this you will anchor the kayak and prevent it from moving or flipping as you wait for your target and eventually shoot at it. However, this might not be the best technique as it forces you to stay in one area, which diminishes one of the key advantages of hunting waterfowl by kayak. For that, it might be a good idea to look at the next technique.
- Adjust how you shoot. Instead of looking for somewhere to rest the boat up against and limiting your mobility, you can just make a few adjustments in how you shoot that will help make it safer and easier. Basically, try to avoid shooting behind you and to your weak side. If you do this, you risk flipping the kayak over and this could have serious consequences for both you and your gun. This will require you to be quick with your paddle because if you see a bird close by on your weak side or behind, you will need to adjust the boat’s position quickly to be able to get a good shot. This will take some practice, but it is important you learn how to do it because not doing so could give you some serious problems.
- Use a stakeout pole. Some kayaks will come with this tool, but if it doesn’t you can easily make one or find one from the stuff you have around the house. It is exactly what the name suggests: a pole. Basically, you want one that is about the size of the kayak or a little smaller so that you can store it easily inside the boat. When you are floating along and see a target you would like to take a shot at, use the stick to steady yourself against the bank or against the bottom of the lake/pond. A stakeout pole can also be useful if you find yourself drifting into some weeds or cattails that are difficult to get out of. You can use the pole to push against something firm and get you back into clear waters.
Make sure you have the right gear
Just like any hunting expedition, you want to make sure you have all the right gear to make sure you are properly prepared for any unexpected situation.
Some of the gear you might already have from your previous waterfowl hunting experiences but some of it, you may need to pick up. Here’s a list of some of the most useful equipment:
- Gun case. We already mentioned this above, but protecting your gun while you are not using it from water damage is of utmost importance.
- Waders. If you have gone waterfowl hunting before you likely have a pair of these. They are important because even though you are using your kayak, there may be times when it is useful for you to get out of the boat and walk around. You will be able to do so in new areas because of the kayak, but unless you know the water is warm you will want to have some protection. Waders give you just that and are a must-have for any kayak waterfowl hunting trip.
- Dry pack. If you have ever gone kayaking before you know that no matter what you do everything in the boat eventually gets wet. Whether water gets into the boat by dripping off the paddle or your clothes or when you get in and out of the boat, it is impossible to keep everything dry. For this reason, it is important to have a dry bag where you can keep some essential supplies. In here you can put your wallet and phone and other electronic devices such as your GPS. Some of these bags fold up in such a way where they trap air inside of them and float. This could be a nice thing to have if you are going to use the bag to store valuables.
- Dry clothes. One thing that should go inside your dry pack is a dry pair of clothes. Chances are you will be out most of the day and if you happen to fall in the water or just get wet from the water that finds its way inside the boat, you will get cold as the day progresses. Not taking care of this can have some dangerous consequences so it is a good idea to have something that you can change into.
- Personal flotation device. Even if you think you are the most experienced swimmer out there, it is still a good idea to take a PFD or life jacket with you. You never know what could happen. PFDs are especially important in cold water. If you were to fall out of the boat in cold water where you cannot touch, spreading out your arms and legs to swim and stay afloat will cause your body temperature to drop quickly. Using a life jacket will allow you to keep your extremities closer to your body and this will mitigate the effects of cold water. So remember, even if you are a great swimmer, take a life jacket!
Some safety tips for hunting waterfowl by kayak
Whenever we talk about hunting it is important to go over the different safety techniques. Hunting waterfowl by kayak is no different. Since you are floating on water and carrying a gun there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to prevent you from hurting yourself or anyone else that might be in the area.
Before heading out to a new area to hunt it is very important you know what the water temperature is going to be. If you are heading out in the summer it might not be a big deal, but if you are going hunting in the spring or fall or even winter, cold water plus cold air temperature can be a dangerous mix.
If the water is going to be cold make sure to follow some of the suggestions we mentioned earlier and bring dry clothes and use waders in the event you need to get out. Also, take extra caution when shooting from the boat since flipping it over and ending up in cold water is something you really want to avoid.
Don’t forget firearm safety
We mentioned earlier keeping your gun dry and that one way to do this would be to use a case. Well, this case is also helpful because it gives you a place to put the gun while you are not using it.
Also, it’s a good idea to consider keeping the gun not loaded and then loading it quickly before making a shot. Some people might read this and say that this is a good way to miss a lot of shots, but constantly switching between using a paddle and a loaded gun seems like a dangerous combination that should be avoided.
This is why it is a good idea to leave the gun in the case unloaded. You might miss a few good shots, but this sacrifice is worth it when you consider the added safety it provides. Also, as you get used to loading and unloading your gun you will eventually learn to do it faster and this will minimize the amount of missed shots that might occur from following this safety tip.
Have some way to communicate for help
Since one of the advantages of hunting waterfowl by kayak is the freedom it gives you to go to unexplored and remote areas, you need to make sure you can contact someone should something go wrong. Your shouts for help will likely not be heard so the only way you will be able to get someone’s attention is by calling them.
It may be tempting to leave the phone behind as you head out to a remote pond to hunt waterfowl, but know that doing this could have some serious consequences. Carry a dry bag with you and put the phone inside so that you can contact someone in the event of an emergency.
Let’s get the kayak in the water
Now that we have shared what we think are some of the keys reasons for hunting waterfowl by kayak and some of the main tips and techniques to help do it successfully, it’s time to get the kayak in the water and get to hunting.
Like all things, there will likely be a learning curve as you get used to this new technique, but it can have incredible benefits and can really enhance the experience. Make sure to still follow some of the same strategies you would use in traditional waterfowl hunting such as camouflage and decoys, but know that you will need to adapt to make the most of your new method.
If you’re not new to using a kayak to hunt waterfowl, what did we miss? What are some things that you do that work or that you have found to not work? Let us know if there are any other tips or techniques that you consider useful so that we can share them and so that everyone can benefit.
Now that we all have a better idea of how this method can help us be more successful hunters, let’s get out there and try it out!