Revisiting Small Boats for Hunting

skiffI have written about the utilization of small water craft for hunting many times, but I have just returned from a boat-based hunt for black bears in Prince William Sound in Alaska. With some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, PWS is a great place to hunt, but it is mainly only accessible by boat. There is a caveat though; you must have a large boat to get to the hunting areas, but you must also have smaller boats to get ashore to actually do the hunting. In other words, if you don’t have multiple boats, you don’t hunt. 

Most hunters are not forced to take to large bodies of water that require multiple boats to hunt, but most people have water near them and small water craft can help put them into lesser traveled spots and hard to get to locations.

So, what kind of boat should you get for your local water hole? Obviously, there is no standard answer because all boats are not equal. Different missions and different terrain require different platforms to float you into the action.

For example, for back country backpacking rafts, I like to use one of the few ‘pack raft’ brands.  Pack rafts are packable rafts that are super lightweight but very durable. They are expensive but they pay for themselves the first time you can get into an area and float yourself out without putting a pile of miles on your hunting boots. You can use them to cross streams that act as natural barriers to other hunters. You can Google pack raft and see for yourself what is available.

Next up, the standard canoe is very handy for such waters as ponds, lakes, and gentle flowing rivers. They can be purchased in very light weight models or heavier models allowing two to three man trips. My favorite solo canoe is the Pack canoe by Old Town. Canoes are handy and easy to maneuver, and they are an American classic.

I really like motorized inflatable boats for open water and hauling loads. Choppy water requires the safety of inflatables, in my opinion, and there are many good brands. A rigid inflatable boat (RIB) is very effective on waters with rocky shores. The rigid hulls will eliminate punctures and dents that most aluminum and wooden boats are susceptible to.

With the right small boat, you could be hunting in untouched places without any competition for years.