Whether you’re doing it on a lake, reservoir or coastal area, water-based hunting provides for one of the most challenging environments, however, it is also one of the most rewarding. To successfully hunt on water, you need all the right gear and equipment, along with expansive knowledge and tactics.
Waterfowl hunting is an experience which cannot be matched by land-based hunting. Taking to the water in pursuit of waterfowl is a big decision to make, however, and if you have never done it before there are a few advantages and disadvantages which should be carefully considered prior to going for it.
Advantages of Using a Boat
Get Up Close and Personal
They’re not called waterfowl for no reason; their natural habitat is the water. Mallard ducks and other delicious waterfowl spend the majority of their time in the water. When you head out hunting on a boat, you can get up close and personal with huge flocks and dramatically increase the number of waterfowl you manage to catch.
Diversify Your Hunt
Taking to the water will be a challenge for even the most seasoned of waterfowl hunters. Getting the technique right whilst in a boat takes time and it is a brilliant way to change things up and learn new hunting skills. In addition to this, it gives you the opportunity to hunt in a new and unfamiliar environment which is both exciting and possibly (highly) rewarding.
A Wider Range of Hunting Hours
Ducks tend to take to the water early on in the morning and spend significant portions of time there. By learning to hunt waterfowl in their natural habitat, you increase the times of day during which you can go hunting. Many seasoned waterfowl hunters take to the water during the early hours and then progress to land as the hours tick over.
Disadvantages of Using a Boat
Harsher Weather Conditions
Spending time out on the open water, especially during autumn, can bring adverse weather conditions which can change in a matter of seconds. When you go out on the water, it is important that you dress appropriately and take extra equipment to keep you safe, dry and warm should the heavens open and the winds begin to chill your bones.
It is Inherently More Dangerous
If you have no boating experience whatsoever, it is advisable to learn the basics before you attempt to use a boat for hunting. Although inland bodies of water may look calm and serene, they can be very dangerous. You need to be able to confidently and properly control your vessel and regain control should the waters become choppy or you hit an obstruction. In addition to this, there could be obstacles below the surface, so you should also be a competent swimmer.
It Can Take Time
When you are on the water, you generally have a smaller area in which you can work. Because of this, you may spend more time waiting for waterfowl to show up or fall for one of your traps.
In contrast, land-based hunting is a whole different story. A larger hunting area means more room for laying traps, concealing yourself and for the waterfowl themselves to come in for a landing.
If you are keen on taking to the water, then you must be prepared to spend longer than usual on the hunt… this isn’t a problem for most, however! Getting hold of a boat and hunting on the waterfowl may sound like a simple task, but it isn’t! Although it’s easily accessible, the act of water-based hunting requires lots of equipment, knowledge and skill to get right.
- Jonny Mac
When I got the call from Dan that I had won the trip to Ohio from US Outdoorsman Central and the Pursuit channel to hunt whitetail with Kokosing River Outfitters, I was excited and in disbelief.
Dreams of big bucks filled my head and the excitement built each day! It was the longest month of my life. From the time I stepped foot onto their property I was never disappointed. Jeff and Amy go out of their way to make you feel at home. You actually stay at their house. The basement is yours with a big screen tv and a little area with a fridge, toaster, and a microwave. Washer and dryer are free to use also! Every day lunch and dinner is served upstairs, prepared by Amy while everyone talks about their day. After dinner, Jeff asks that you go back downstairs so that he and the guides can formulate a plan and his family can relax, as upstairs is their living area.
Jeff and his guides are very knowledgeable and work very hard to put you on deer. Checking trail cams, weather, and scouting constantly to try to give you a successful hunt. They have 3000 acres and 57 stand locations with a type of stand to fit anyone's comfort level. While none of us got a deer this week we all had opportunities.
One very nice buck was passed due to no camera light, one nice 13 point because he was only 2 1/2, several that were just out of range, or just not what each person was looking for. Arriving here everyone was shocked to see field after field of corn still standing, and miles of beans still begging to be cut. This, coupled with clear skies and a incredibly bright full moon, made hunting very tough.
A lot of deer stayed in the corn bedding and only occasionally leaving for water. Everyone hunted very hard putting in tons of stand time through everything from wind to rain to lunar eclipse and blood moons. Not one of us left sad or disappointed. We all had a great time, made new friends, and enjoyed the amazing outdoors that God gave us.
That's what deer camp is about. It's not about killing a big buck... thats just a lucky bonus. It's about sharing something you love with family, friends, or people you just met and making memories that will last a lifetime.
Not a single person will forget me dropping my bow out of a tree, or not feel Jon's pain as he passed a shot at a buck of a lifetime due to no camera light, or a guy from Minnesota's story about his dog named "Lady" that had everyone laughing so hard it hurt.
That's what deer camp is about. Coming up here, I never planned on ever coming back. Hunting with an outfitter is something I never wanted to do, it just isn't my cup of tea. This week Jeff and Amy changed that. They made it so fun that I booked a trip for next year. I am already looking forward to being back.
Thank you again to US Outdoorsman Central, the Pursuit Channel, and Kokosing River Outfitters for giving me the opportunity to come to Ohio and enjoy the trip of a lifetime!
Pro-Staff - Bucks of Georgia
November 7, 2017 started out like any other morning. My Alarm goes off at 3am, I reach up turn on my headboard light, and shut off my alarm. I laid there for a minute or two before sitting up and mumbling to myself “41 days”... 41 days since opening day 9-1-2017. That’s how many days I’ve hunted so far this Whitetail season. I threw on my hoodie, stepped outside and opened the garage door, and off to the gas station for my morning coffee. The gas clerk, a pretty young lady “Morning Ralph, you off for another morning hunt?” That’s how often I visit the gas station for coffee, first name basis and they know I’m a hunter. So I’ve got my coffee, I say “goodbye” to the pretty gas clerk and drive home.
While enjoying my coffee and sitting in the garage, I bring up my Hunting app. Let’s see, stand list “check” weather “ 34°, wind out of the Southwest” The only thing wrong... is this particular set is bad for the wind direction. Everything is upwind of me. By now I’m debating on whether to change sets or just hunt it. I decided to make the decision when I came to the first turn towards one of my sets. Eventually after a few morning rituals and a 36oz cup of joe, I’m all dressed and loaded up and ready to roll. Heading down the road in complete darkness, and a few passing cars, it starts to snow, a light snow but it’s a snow. That’s when I knew which stand to hunt, The bad set. I’ve always had a lucky feeling when it snowed. This time was no different.
So it’s 5:40am now and I’m sitting in my tree stand. This tree is “Old Reliable” and the reason for that is because 8 of the 10 deer I’ve harvested since 2014 have been out of Old Reliable. It’s a perfect area for deer to bed in and travel through. There’s a perfect food source of corn and beans with a creek running though the area. All the ingredients for a successful hunt.
So as I’m sitting, listening and Facebook reading and Instagram watching, dawn is now approaching and I can hear robins and sparrows waking up. There are rabbits hopping about below me, and to my left is a pretty mature doe walking around and eating about 26yds away. I’m pretty excited now, rarely do I see a deer in this area before 8am, they usually come through an hour after sunrise. I reach for my phone and record a little video for Snapchat and that’s when I noticed her become a little weary and on edge. Now I know she hasn’t winded or seen me. Then of course it dawned on me “she’s got a buck with her” I said softly. So I watched pretty closely around the area as it became lighter. So far, nothing was in the open, then she made a B-line for the clump of bushes and before I knew it there stood a Buck.
So at this point I’m even more excited and then I noticed the antler on one side looked pretty decent and the other side looked really goofy and small. Then he takes a couple steps and I notice he’s got a bit of a limp, I grabbed my range finder and low and behold this buck has 3 legs.....Yup 3 legs!!
Now I’m in a debate with myself, shoot or pass. Now I had shot a buck already this year and he was no prize buck. I was waiting for a bigger buck, but this fella had my attention due to his uniqueness, plus he was already disabled. So I made the executive decision to shoot if he gave me a shot. After a few moments of him looking at this Doe, he wandered behind a cedar tree and then the Doe came out and walked under my stand and off to the right of me about 30yds. So I grabbed my bleat can and called to that buck a couple times.
That definitely got his attention and well, here he came. Straight towards me and then he stopped and turned just enough quartering to me and I sent my arrow right between his blade and elbow. Now this deer had no clue I was there nor did he even hear, smell or see anything and when that arrow blew thru him, he bolted like a bolt of lighting. First thing I thought was “man that’s a fast, tough 3 legged deer.”
So after about 45 minutes, I’m sitting in my stand getting things gathered together. That’s when I just happen to look up and there’s a doe running down a fence line towards me and in tow is this beautiful, majestic y’all 8pt buck and he’s a grunting and his nose is buried into the ground...lol just my luck. Honestly if I had to do over again, I would have still of taken that goofy buck. It’s not very often you see a set of antlers like that and to top it off.......He had 3 legs.
Jr Bucks of Nebraska Pro-Staff
I came to Kansas five years ago not knowing how my hunting would turn out. As a Midwest native I saw what I never expected. I always heard great things in the past about Monster Bucks in Kansas. I thought to myself "OK maybe only on private land, and hunting with outfitters". Turns out that I ate my own words. My first season here left me with great encounters of larger that average bucks (140"+). I had a difficult time patterning these big bucks while I hunted a small 680 acre tract of public land in North Central Kansas.
This is the part that was just a learning curve I thought. Boy was I wrong! These mature bucks became unpredictable with added pressure from just a few other hunters that fall. I Ended my first Kansas season with three does, and a heart break of no buck.
The next two seasons I watched several good bucks on both private, and public ground. I harvested a young nine pointer the second season, and removed a wounded five pointer the third season. Tagged ten does over those two seasons. The forth season I switched my focus to public land mostly, and hunting private with my buddy. With great summer scouting, and major preparations. My hunting partner, and I set out on a mission of doing management.
We had a plan of taking two mature bucks. We ended up taking a handful of does, and both of us went buckless. We had great encounters with 4 year old, and younger bucks. We just couldn't get the older bucks in range for a shot.
This summer I scouted hard, and found a special tract of land on the Kansas Special Hunts Program. I've been hunting in the meantime with my two hunting partners on private. I've harvested four does so far, and passed on 12 different young bucks.
As we enter the month of Buckvember my hopes are high of making a dream of harvesting a true Kansas giant a reality. My journey continues, and I will be hard at it until I complete the task at hand. Never give up, and push hard in everything you do folks. Your persistence will pay off.
Bucks of Kansas Pro Staffer