Deer hunting by boat has continued to grow in popularity in recent years as more and more hunters use a water approach to access deer hunting opportunities. Using boats to slip in on deer and turkeys is nothing new. However, the equipment now available, particularly kayaks and smaller vessels, allows hunters to hunt more efficiently than ever before. Here’s a look at 4 reasons you should hunt your buck by boat this deer season.
Boat Your Way into Limited Access Public Land
One of the greatest advantages a boat provides is the opportunity to access more public land. Many states have an abundance of public land along lakes and rivers with limited access beyond a water approach. Hunters learning to use a boat to tap into these locations can open a wealth of new hunting opportunities this season.
One of my favorite deer hunts of all time took place on a public ground island that a crew of friends and I accessed with kayaks and a small jon boat. The boats allowed us to leave the crowds behind and have the island to ourselves on a cold, single-digit day in November. The result—one of our greatest deer hunts of all time.
A Stealthy Approach
I’ve used jon boats for over 20 years to access deer and turkey hunting opportunities. When I’m using my big boat, I’ll typically cruise in the last leg of the trip with just the trolling motor leading the charge. It allows me to go in super quiet.
Deer rely on the noise we hunters make on our approach to the tree stand for survival. They hear us coming, and they make their retreat. That’s why slipping in by boat can greatly up the odds for success.
The kayak allows you to take your stealth to a whole new level as well. It’s super quiet as you paddle in on the approach. On a number of occasions, I’ve paddled right up on deer, turkeys, and predators that never knew I was in the world.
The sound you’ll make as you paddle into your hunting area is a natural sound, blending in easily with any waves splashing or water rippling. Deer also hear the sound of other animals in the creek on a regular basis. The sounds made by a hunter approaching by boat or kayak will often go unnoticed by deer in the area.
Boat in on the Back Side
A back door approach allows you to access a property different than what other hunters may have in the past. The majority of hunters will walk in from the road. Deer quickly pattern hunters in this routine. That’s why slipping in by water on the back side of a property can be such an effective way of picking a big buck off his normal routine.
Deer quickly learn to pattern hunters when hunting season starts. They will adapt to the presence of hunters and use escape routes and hold tight in bedding cover beyond most hunter’s reach. If you’ll find these hot spots along water access, you’ll have an incredible advantage for a bark side sneak by boat.
An Easier Way to Haul Your Gear and Deer
One of the perks of adding a boat to the mix while deer hunting is your ability to haul more gear. Tree stands, climbing sticks, packs, and other supplies are easier to haul by boat than on your back. Some of the better kayaks on the market these days are capable of hauling some pretty serious loads, allowing you the opportunity to haul you and all your gear, with ample room for a dead deer when success comes your way.
If you want to mix things up and try something new this hunting season, you should give hunting by boat some serious consideration.
It’s a stealthy tactic that will open up new hunting opportunities, greater land access, and a chance to leave the crowds behind.