Thursday, December 28, 2017

Essential Kayak hunting tips for beginners.

If you have followed this blog for long, you know I am a big believer in kayaks. I absolutely believe they are the most fun you can have fishing. The excitement of being down there with the action and having a large fish pull you around is absolutely unmatched in the outdoors. Couple that with the ability to go places boats cannot and the ability to go there silently makes them the perfect fishing platform.

I am not the only person who recognizes this and kayaks are getting more and more popular. Innovations are being made and the boundaries are being pushed in what they can do. Gone are the days that kayaks are used solely for touring. You name a water based outdoor adventure and someone has probably done it in a kayak.

One of the last frontiers we are seeing with kayaks is hunting. A few years ago I started seeing my friends go out duck hunting in their kayak. Some have even attempted larger game, gaining access to hard to reach public land for deer, turkey, and varmints.

You can sneak up close to game in a kayak

Like kayak fishing, kayak hunting requires careful planning and gear selection. It takes a lot of effort, but the effort is often well worth it.

The first thing you need to look into is the laws concerning both boating and hunting. It can get complex depending on your area. In my state, it is illegal to shoot deer from a boat. You also must have safety lights, even on a kayak, at night. Your state or country will have different laws, so just go over them carefully before you do anything else.

After you make sure you are doing everything legally, you need to make sure you do everything safely. For this you will need some gear. The most obvious is a PFD. If you are in a kayak you should be wearing one. Period. Other than drowning, the biggest danger is hypothermia. Hunting is mostly done in cold weather. A dunk in a lake with your normal hunting cloths in near freezing weather is deadly. You will get very cold very quickly. You need to be wearing a good pair of insulated waders with a belt (so they do not fill up) and a dry top. A dry top is a pullover type jacket that is designed to keep you dry. They are somewhat expensive, but just as necessary as a PFD. Another option would be a complete dry suit. Although they can be on the spendy side.

Another consideration is your kayak itself. A small kayak might not cut it. It needs to be able to carry you, your gear, and your kill. Check its weight rating and add at least 150 pounds to your weight. Can it handle it?
Some of my closest wildlife encounters have been from a kayak

Ok, so you have squared away the legal and safety stuff, now onto the fun stuff!

The main purpose of a kayak when hunting is to get you to a good spot, a spot no one else has access too. Sometime this means an hour or more paddling. Be sure you have a good seat so you can sit comfortably. A good paddle is also important. I like a long touring paddle, but you will need to try several to find a type that fits your style.

Depending on your quarry, you may need some specific hunting gear.

Duck hunting requires the most gear. They sell some amazing camo for kayaks. You can turn it into a small floating blind if you wish! Some people I know tow a small raft for all their decoys and camo. Waterproof storage of ammo and your gun should also be considered. My kayak has a waterproof opening in the center that fits a shotgun perfectly, however not all do. You need to carefully consider this.

I need to throw a blanket in there to protect my baby
Deer and other larger game come with their own needs. Most importantly, how are you going to bring your kill back? For small game there are specially designed coolers to keep your catch on ice. Larger game will need to be lashed to the deck of your kayak. This can get very tricky. You need to have the straps and a good plan for accomplishing this. Having a deer fall off your kayak or causing you to capsize is a nightmare I don’t even want to think about!

Using a kayak to hunt can give you the edge you need, especially on public land. However, it does come with a lot of extra considerations. Do your homework. Make a plan. Get the right gear. You will not regret it!

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