Use Your Kayak to Increase Hunting Success

Kayak anglers love that they can get to remote waters that others can’t reach.

Fish that aren’t being pounded by lures day in and day out are less spooked and more willing to bite. As summer gives way to fall, our thoughts turn from fishing to hunting.

Many kayak anglers think it’s time put the kayak in winter storage—not so fast!

Your kayak can get you to prime, unpressured hunting spots!

Kayak fishing is growing in popularity in the Midwest. A lot of fishing enthusiasts are realizing how the portability and capabilities of kayaks can change their hunting game. For years, hunters have been hiking with backpacks, using horses and four-wheelers to get to remote hunting areas and pack out the game. Now, smart hunters are using kayaks and skinny water to access areas that are difficult to get to by other modes of transportation.

Safety first, kayak hunting precautions

Firearm safety is always top of mind. If you intend to shoot from your kayak, practice before actually going out to shoot game. Top of the line fishing kayaks are very stable, but it’s important you get a feel for how your kayak and balance work when firing while floating on the water.    

Always have a dry bag complete with a towel and dry clothing. If you tip your kayak and get wet during colder temperatures, hypothermia is a real concern. Have matches or fire starters in case you need to start a fire to warm up. If you tip, get to land, dry off and put on dry clothes. Your life may depend on it.

Know the weight-carrying capacity of your kayak and follow it. Large kayaks are capable of carrying 600 pounds or more. Smaller, lightweight kayaks may only be capable of carrying 300 pounds (or less). Factor in the weight of everything you will have on board. If you’re targeting large game, add in the weight of the field dressed animal for the trip back.

Kayak Hunter, Jimmy DiTraglia

“I’ve used my kayak for waterfowl and wild turkey hunting. In the future, I plan on using it to access remote, difficult to access woods to hunt deer”. 

Kayaking to my spots eliminates a lot of hunting pressure

I live in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota. I only hunt public land and escaping the crowds is just as important as scouting to know I’m in a good spot. When duck hunting public water, anything around the metro area is swarmed with motor boats set up every 100 yards along the cattails. I have no interest in hunting around that many other shotguns, so I kayak into skinny rivers and small ponds. It’s an advantage of using my kayak the majority of other hunters don’t enjoy.

Get to remote areas for wild turkey hunting

Last May I took a trip to some public river bottoms in Wisconsin to hunt wild turkeys. A friend told me to check it out and specifically mentioned that if I was willing to kayak way back in there that I could escape pressure. The area is almost 14,000 acres of public hardwoods with creeks, swamps, and pothole sloughs. The creeks were deep enough that foot travel was impossible, and the swamps were typical of the upper Midwest in that they have a bottom composed of seemingly bottomless muck. They were also impassable by foot. This resulted in the majority of the pressure being on dry land on the parking lot side of this wilderness.

My kayak and willingness to paddle upstream and drag it across land a few times allowed me to escape hunting pressure. I hunted 3 days and didn’t see a single person the entire time. On the 3rd day, at about 9am, I killed a mature gobbler. Working that hard for it made it so sweet to succeed. Being in woods that I know very few people venture into was special as well.

Experience solitude, get to spots others can’t

On my second day of hunting in Wisconsin, I ran into a couple of turkey hunters at a public parking area and chatted for a bit. Both said they admired my dedication to kayak into the difficult to access areas “just to chase a turkey” and both wished me good luck. To me, it’s not “just to chase a turkey.” Spring turkey hunting is my favorite, but the solitude I experienced was every bit as important to me as the big gobbler I was chasing. I’ve harvested turkeys on public land where walking far into the woods definitely helps, but the foot access still allows for you to bump into a hunter here and there. This place was completely empty and that’s not something a public land hunter gets to experience often.

Jimmy is the author of a website dedicated to healthy eating featuring wild game and fish recipes,  check it out!

Kayak Hunter, Hue Vang

“I mainly hunt waterfowl in my yak. It gets me to spots where there are no motorized boats and are difficult for other hunters to access”.

Increase hunting success!

I remember one year the water level was higher than normal. There was a thick bulrush that was in 5 to 7 feet of water and the nearest solid land was about 70 yards in. There was no way anything would be in shooting range from land to where I wanted to set up my decoys in open water. I was able to paddle my kayak out and conceal myself inside the edge of the bulrush (see photo). That was the first time I shot ducks directly out of my kayak with my decoys literally right in front of me. It was one of my best hunts ever! My kayak has plenty of load capacity for me to bring 8 floater geese decoys, about 2 dozen duck decoys, guns, and ammo. On cold days, I can also fit my small buddy heater with me.

Kayak Hunting
Kayak Hunting

Some days my buddies and I bring a yak along to retrieve ducks. We don’t own dogs, so whoever shoots a duck gets the pleasure of paddling out to retrieve it. If there are multiple ducks shot, a game of rock, paper, scissors ensues. Hunting from a kayak is my preferred method of chasing waterfowl, nothing compares to it!

Kayak Hunter, Jake Kaiser

“I mainly hunt waterfowl out of my kayak, I also use it for turkey and deer hunting”.

Using a kayak for hunting has numerous advantages

I’ve used it to get to areas that aren’t accessible by foot or to sneak up ditches to get into remote ponds for ducks. I’ve also used my kayak to approach bedded deer from downwind. Kayaks are stealthy and can move very quietly, that’s important to hunting success.

My kayak has allowed me to access “islands” in the springtime to hunt turkeys on public land when the river is in a flood stage.

Hauling a blind, decoys, bows, guns and ammo into remote areas by foot can be too much work for many hunters. You can save a lot of time and energy by using a kayak for these tasks and packing out the harvested game.

You can use a kayak to hunt just about anything, but the kind of kayak you have can limit your options

My Bonafide ss127 kayak is 12’ 7” long and can carry 475 lb. I use it for big game hunting and retrieval. Sometimes I use it for hunting ducks in rice paddies without my dog. It’s stable enough that I can stand up to spot downed birds in cover and see over cover for incoming flocks. My kayak has enough load capacity that I can bring Sarge, my 90 lb. lab, to retrieve ducks for me.

Rivers and streams are often bordering of public and private land and can provide back-door accessibility to remote spots. Your hunting kayak can get you to these spots. It can make your hunt more of an adventure!

Get to hunting spots others can’t!

How do you find these remote hunting areas? Ask friends or other hunters. Use Google Earth Satellite images to find spots that ATV’s and foot travelers can’t or won’t cross. The rewards of hunting in spots where pressure is low, and you can enjoy solitude can payoff big! Use your kayak to get there, most other hunters don’t enjoy these advantages.