Kayak to Your Ducks
Kayak to Your Ducks
I routinely use a white water kayak for hunting ducks. The kayak that I use is made by Perception and it is their Stikine model. It is just less than 10 feet long. The Stikine has a standard white water size cockpit, and it takes a standard white water spray skirt. If you have legitimate white water kayaking skills including a reliable roll, this is definitely a rig that you safely use for windy open water crossings.
Packing the gun: I take the barrel off my 12 gauge pump shotgun, and I wrap both the stock and barrel in heavy plastic bags. Those two pieces run from my lap, down the tops of my legs, and rest on my ankles. You never know they are there when you are paddling.
Decoys: I take up to 6 magnum mallard decoys or about 8 standard decoys which I pack in the stern. I haven't heard about many people using 6 decoys, especially for big water situations, but 6 is enough if you set up in an area where the ducks want to land. In fact, lately I've been hunting a spot that is a real duck magnet with no decoys and I've definitely been satisfied with my success lately. I keep hearing about mallards flying around in big flocks and people needing a bunch of decoys to attract them and I do see some larger groups of ducks, but I also see a lot of pairs of mallards flying around together and landing off by themselves. If you see a flock of say 12 ducks, it doesn't mean they all arrived in one group; they probably arrived two by two. I mainly hunt alone, but if you and a friend each take 6 decoys you'll be up to a dozen. I have been known to tow a second kayak packed heavily with about 3 dozen decoys (including a bag of decoys tied onto the spray skirt), and that is OK if I'm only going a mile or slightly longer, but it would suck for longer trips because the towed kayak cuts back and forth like a zara spook top water lure. I once towed a bag full of decoys behind my kayak, and that was very slow going and my ab muscles were sore the next day from the work out, and I didn't even paddle very far that day. After doing it one time, I never had the desire to tow a bag full of decoys again.
I also pack a piece of camo material to hide the boat. The kayak works well for fetching ducks. I sometimes go 4 or 5 miles from my truck before light in the kayak. Needless to say, a GPS is useful for this type of hunting. I personaly would much rather paddle in the water than hike on the land in the dark. I cruise along at about 4 miles per hour. One nice thing about the kayak is that you don't have to worry about the motor starting or bumping the prop in shallow water. Another good thing is that you don't need a boat ramp. I sometimes hunt in places where I have to carry the kayak a few hundred yards to get to the water. I own a very good 12 foot aluminum boat with a 15 Hp motor, but I almost always use the kayak instead for duck hunting. I have a friend with a recreational type kayak, and that is faster, and he can carry more gear, and he doesn't have to take his gun apart to pack it, but it isn't a safe boat for windy open water crossings. I think one reason that a kayak is great for hunting is that they were designed for hunting thousands of years ago. So, why not steel a page out of the Inuit's playbook and take a kayak hunting? If you buy white water kayaking gear for hunting, you will be getting a two-for-one deal because you can use it for running white water rivers, and you can use it for hunting.
There are not very many people who like to hunt and have white water kayaking gear and skills, so if you hunt this way, you will likely be doing it solo.
I also like the kayak for scouting even when I could be running around in my 12 foot motor boat because I remember the country better when I paddle through it.
People in open motor boats have told me I'm crazy for being out on windy water in a kayak, but I feel that I'm way way safer in a white water kayak with my rolling ability than they are in a small open boat.
I have not tried to shoot out of my kayak, but I may give it a try. One time this fall, I was floating down a river scouting for ducks. I saw a mallard drake in an eddy aways down stream of me. I leaned foreward until my face was on the deck and I did drift into good shooting range before the duck flew away, and this was right in the middle of hunting season. I only tried it that one time, but it did work that time. So, I might think up some system (which will probably involve the cheapest shotgun I can find) that allows me to float rivers and shoot ducks out of the kayak.