How to Hunt Ducks from a Boat
Hunting ducks from a boat is a lot more common than hunting them on land. After all, they are waterborne animals and it is important that you understand how to hunt ducks from a boat if you want to take it up seriously. Ducks will often flee to water when startled on land – they are smart animals and know that humans can’t always pursue them there.
Whether you’re wanting to use a non-motorised watercraft such as a punt or canoe or a powered boat up to five knots, here are a few tips you should keep in mind.
Know Your Boat Well
If you’re an inexperienced sailor, perhaps your time would be well-spent by taking time to get to know your boat first. Canoes and kayaks can be thrown off-balance suddenly and are prone to capsizing – with over half of boating-related fatalities being caused by capsizing, it is no laughing matter. You need to know your boat well and understand its characteristics before you entertain the thought of hunting from it.
Research Weather Conditions
The weather conditions can make or break a hunt, especially when you are on the water. You should never attempt to hunt on water with adverse conditions, especially if you are using a boat which doesn’t have a power source. If the weather takes a turn for the worst mid-hunt, get out of there as soon as possible. You should always be prepared if you do get caught out in some heavy rain by ensuring you have waterproofs with you such as a waterproof coat with a hood, some gloves and something that'll keep your legs dry.
Check Wind Conditions
Wind conditions can affect your hunt just as much as weather conditions. Knowing the direction of the wind is essential in correctly positioning any of your decoys and blinds. Determining wind conditions on relatively calm mornings requires nothing more than a small plastic squeeze bottle filled with some talcum powder. Before you set up your decoys, squeeze the bottle and see in which direction the powder drifts. Powder is carried by the wind much easier than anything else and is a solid way to determine the wind conditions.
Use Camo Cord
To conceal yourself on the water, nothing quite beats the look of natural vegetation. You can use camo cord to attach a wide range of different plants, leaves and pieces of vegetation to your hunting vessel. If you are taking water-based duck hunting seriously, consider spending lots of time to weave vegetation into your cord and create what even a human could confuse with shrubbery. Ducks are smart, but you can outsmart them with some hard work.
Head Out Late
Waterfowl tend to move around more and migrate at night when there are cold fronts and tailwinds. On a day with good migration, don’t leave early and consider heading out later than usual so you can stay on the water later. The peak duck hunting time is often late at night (or early in the morning) when migrating flocks begin to move. Attaching a good set of light bars to your duck boat is recommended if you plan on some low light hunting, even if they are just used as a set of emergency lights.
Adopt a Calm Approach
Ducks can easily be spooked by stationary decoys, but they can also be spooked just as much by sudden movement. Balance the two carefully and use a calm approach, making slow and steady movements towards the target which doesn’t cause too much of a ripple on the water.
The most common mistake made by duck hunters is to try and flush large numbers of duck off a roost in the darkness. If these ducks were left alone, they would fly out as dawn breaks and then come back to the roost early in the morning. Instead of spooking the ducks at night, wait patiently until the early morning sunrise and then go and set up for your hunt. It is better to miss out on some early shooting than to miss out on a better overall hunt; ducks provide better shooting opportunities as they return o the roost in smaller numbers as the morning progresses.
Go Get Them Captain Waterfowl
Ducks and other waterfowl are far from being the easiest animals to hunt, however, with some real advice, preparation and research, there is no reason why you can’t take part. The inherent danger with waterfowl hunting is the fact that you too have to take to the water in pursuit of your targets. If you have never commanded a watercraft before, even if you’re using a humble canoe, it is important that you get familiar with it before you even attempt to hunt waterfowl.
Water conditions can change at a moment’s notice and there are many documented cases of fatalities which took place as a result of a novice boater getting in way over their head on the water.
So get your waterfowl boat painted with some nice camouflage and get out there and down some ducks today!