Using Small Boats for Hunting, Part One

During the Pike County, Illinois Whitetail hunting gold rush of the 1990’s, I spent some time at my uncle’s cabin on the Mississippi River and learned a valuable hunting lesson. On a whim, I decided to take the family’s boat over to one of the many islands in the middle of the river, and what I discovered blew my hunting mind.

Whitetail deer were living in uninterrupted seclusion and they just watched me as I wandered around scouting. I could not believe how docile these deer acted around me and by finding an undisturbed location via the water; I had found fresh hunting grounds. 

Boats are underrated. There are several reasons to use a small boat while hunting, but better hunting is definitely the best reason in my opinion. You don’t need a motorized boat either. A canoe or small inflatable water craft can provide you with the ability to experience better hunting.

All states have waterways. Some of the best bird hunting I ever experienced was floating a tiny river in the high desert of eastern Oregon. Access to hidden spots is often difficult by land, but water opens up new worlds.

Better hunting is an obvious benefit of using a boat but having the silence and solitude of your own location just can’t be beat. I have a friend in eastern Oregon who has a small rowboat that he uses every fall to kill his yearly black bear with. Every year in the fall, I ask him if he killed his bear yet. Like clockwork he replies, “Yep.” We have this short conversation every year, and people are amazed that he is that successful, but all they would have to do is get in their own boat to have the same success.

One thing I really like about boats is that you can go places where nobody else goes. Having privacy and your own hunting spot is priceless.

Another benefit of using a small boat is that you can carry more gear than you can on your back. This means you can go more remote for longer periods of time than you could backpacking.  With more supplies, you can have more comfort and that means you can stay longer and enjoy yourself way more than you would humping a pack every day. 

Not only is a boat handy for transporting your belongings, but when it comes to getting your animal out, I will take the smooth glide of a small boat over water than the torture of uphill pack jobs. Boats are awesome and it’s time to start thinking about how your hunting career could change with a small boat.