Best deer hunting kayak

Best deer hunting kayak DEFAULT

Float a Canoe into a Big Buck’s Bedding Area for the Ultimate Whitetail Hunt

Seven years ago, Aaron Warbritton borrowed his landlord’s fiberglass canoe to access a piece of hunting ground in Iowa. Along with a hunting buddy, he paddled a mile upstream to a prime riverbottom, and then paddled a mile back with a dead whitetail buck in his boat. These days Warbritton, a host of the popular YouTube series and podcast The Hunting Public, travels state to state, chasing bucks on public land, and taking viewers and listeners along for the ride. Warbritton and the other Hunting Public guys usually go in cold, speed-scout when they get there, then jump into a hunt. They use a variety of tools to fit their run-and-gun style—ghillie suits, tree saddles, and especially canoes and kayaks.

Launch a Surprise Attack

“You’re usually extremely quiet when approaching a spot via water, and you also leave minimal ground scent, especially if you end up hunting close to the bank,” Warbritton says. “We’ve noticed over the years that bucks tend to bed and live close to water sources. They have good cover and good security, but also a lot of available browse and water right there. That helps them stay secluded, so they don’t have to move far to get a drink.”

Bedding near a river also helps whitetails feel ­secure, and this is especially true for rivers with oxbows, or U-shaped bends. When he’s inside the U, a buck is protected on three sides, since predators don’t typically come from the water. Warbritton likes to home in on these areas and access them by boat. He selects spots using digital maps, then sets up when he finds fresh sign. To avoid bumping bedded deer, he does as little walking as possible when he gets there.

“If it’s a fairly shallow creek, there is usually a big cut in the bank on each side of the oxbow, and the dirt that came out of the cut bank kind of accumulates,” he says. “A lot of times, there’s a shallow water crossing there. The deer that bed on the tip of those oxbows have multiple escape routes down through the crossings. With the wind coming in from the land side, they rarely expect to see any danger coming from the water. We’ve paddled up to rutting bucks right on the bank in the middle of November. They just don’t know what you are.”

Read Next: Secrets of the Deer Hunting Gear Minimalist

Zach Ferenbaugh, another member of the Hunting Public crew, stalked within 28 yards of a bedded buck last year along a muddy Iowa riverbottom after canoeing his way into the spot. He spent much of his archery season ditching the treestand and instead hunting riverbottom whitetails from the ground, like a Western bowhunter might spot-and-stalk mule deer. It made for surprisingly close encounters, and thrilling footage.

More often than not, Warbritton will just use a boat to simply cross streams and rivers, but he doesn’t let obstacles or long hauls get in his way. “In Kentucky a few years ago, we used a grappling hook to hook trees and climb straight up steep banks. It looked like something Batman would have used.” With bigger boats and outboard motors, he’s accessed areas more than 10 miles upriver. With canoes and kayaks, he’ll usually travel 2 to 4 miles.

Woman dragging a canoe through the water.

Paddle Easy (or Embrace the Drag)

But getting there is only half the battle. Depending on local laws, a successful hunter may not be allowed to quarter a buck and will have to take it out whole in the boat. That’s not a problem with a big, sturdy canoe, but for smaller craft like lightweight fishing kayaks, Warbritton has a different solution. “You can get an inner tube, pull it behind you, strap the deer to it, and float him down the river. It gets a bit complicated if you’re dealing with any sort of current, but that’s one way to do it.”

Sometimes, Warbritton will just drag the buck out across land. “You can access a lot of the areas we hunt on foot, but your intrusion is way more aggressive that way,” Warbritton says. “A kayak helps us get in there, leave minimal ground scent, and pop up right in the middle of the bedding area. In situations where we’ve floated into areas that also have ground access, we’ll just paddle out in the kayak, and then go back and drag the deer out.”

Warbritton’s favorite way to float to and from a deer stand is to use two vehicles—one parked upstream and the other downriver. Launch your boat from the first parking area upstream and let the current carry you to your spot. When the hunt is over, get back in the water and float downstream to the second vehicle.

Whichever method you choose, scout the water beforehand for current speed, water level, and hazards. There could be snags or dammed-up logs in the way, plus rocks and rapids. Wear a life jacket, and pack along a set of hip waders in case you need to get out of the boat and portage around obstacles. Stay dry, and you’ll stay in the hunt.



Luke from Illinois asks,

Topic: Best Kayak for Public Land Hunting:

Best Kayak

The best kayak our public land guys have found for entering public lands via creeks and small rivers is the Cabela&#;s Advanced Anglers It is sturdy and stable and will carry plenty of gear.

Hi Bill, my question is in regard to the guys on public land using a waterway of some sort to access certain areas or properties&#;.. i was wandering if they had a certain style/size of canoe or kayak that they preferred. Obviously its gonna have to be something big enough to carry some gear. I&#;m just curious if they had a certain size that worked well.

I&#;m trying to find something that&#;s small enough to be very mobile yet stable enough to haul a stand and sticks and possibly a deer on the way out. My property is bordered on one side by a river and boating in would save me many a step as well as be lower impact than my access from land. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Have a great day and your show is awesome.

Best Kayak for Public Land Hunting was last modified: June 15th, by Bill Winke

Bill responds,


I got this from Aaron:

As far as getting a deer out, we have not tried it on a kayak yet. We&#;ve hauled out a few with the canoe but it&#;s obviously bigger than the yaks. It&#;s possible it could work. Hope to try it this fall!&#;
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Perfect hunting kayak

I'm going to start with a little ramblin' backstory, bear with me. :)

The Mobile-Tensaw River Delta has been a prominent figure in my life for as long as I can remember. As a small kid driving back and forth across I to visit my grandparents, I used to peer out the window at the seemingly endless swamp and fantasize about running away Huck Finn style and living off of wild game. In college, I started hunting it, gradually exploring deeper and deeper into the backwaters and islands. First by foot, then with waders (or swimming!), and then with a collection of small boats.

I have killed a good percentage of my game with the aid of of pirogues, canoes, kayaks, and jon boats. Between paddling for exercise, camping, fishing, and hunting, I have probably been on the water almost every week for the past 7 years. There have been periods where I was out every single day for several weeks at a time. My love for the delta is apparently contagious, because I was able last year to convince my wife that we should purchase a home on a bluff overlooking it; a home that we found while navigating the 50 mile Bartram Canoe Trail!

My love of all things outdoors also led me to pick up a part time job while I was in college at a sporting goods store. I was enthusiastic enough that they eventually promoted me to department manager, and I got to see first hand the explosion of kayaking popularity that has swept the nation. I spent 5 years helping people buy kayaks and canoes, and have established friendships with many of the customers and coworkers that I sold boats to. I moved on to greener pastures, but I still miss that job.

I say all this because I have an unpopular opinion when it comes to hunting kayaks, and would like to emphasize that while it is contrarian, it is at least informed.

Long story short, sit-on kayaks are terrible for hunting.

In my mind, it's kind of like the saddle vs treestand debate. Treestands (and sit-ons) are definitely the norm for hunters, and have a lot of marketing behind them. They're the "normal" and "safe" choice. Lots of glossy magazine pictures and "celebrities" using them. And there are definitely more options for a sit-on paddler, with lots of snazzy battleships sporting camoesque colors, gun racks, and trolling motor mounts. People say they are roomier, more comfortable, and safer.

But folks say the same thing about their summit.

My opinion after having spent countless hours in and around kayaks is that sit-ons are unacceptably heavy, cumbersome, slow, and expensive for what they are. A sit-on is not safer than a sit-in, and the supposed stability advantage is overstated.

Some of the same advantages that make a saddle a better choice for the mobile hunter make a sit-in kayak a much better option. Namely, a sit-in is ridiculously lightweight and can function in places a sit-on cannot. It also offers a much lower profile, which is good for stealth. And it is easier to hunt further back in a sit-in than a sit-on, just like it is easier to hunt further back in a saddle than a treestand.

A run-of-the mill sit-on kayak is going to weigh right in the neighborhood of lbs. The cheaper models made from thinner polyethylene are going to be a few pounds lighter, and some of the more heavy-duty models with lots of accessories and fancy seats are going to push into the +lb range. They are also going to have an average width of " at the widest part of the hull, which is generally right at your hips.

Contrast this to my "main squeeze" kayak, a Wilderness Systems Pungo A Pungo weighs only 49lbs, and some of that weight is in the "cockpit tray" that can and should be removed. lbs is pretty much the average for a 12ft sit-in. And at 29" wide, my pungo (and sit-ins in general) is substantially narrower.

A lighter weight kayak is a huge advantage for several reasons.

  1. It is drastically easier to load, unload, and carry. I can cartop a sit-in effortlessly in one swift movement, and carry it rested on one shoulder with ease. Every sit-in owner I have paddled with has required assistance or a mechanical aid to handle his boat, or been winded and sweaty by the time he had wrestled it into place.
  2. It is easier to get to small, remote waters. I frequently launch my kayaks in places that are definitely not boat ramps or kayak launches. Many places require me to lower the boat down a ft creek bank, stern first with a long rope, and then scramble down with my gear. I also frequently cannot park my vehicle on the bank, and have to tote my boat a long way over logs, cypress knees, and swampy ground. Doing this with a lb boat would be exhausting, impractical, and not at all fun. Loading and launching my kayak is a complete non-issue, vs the hassle of loading a sit-on or hooking up a trailer and going through the checklist a boat requires. This means I can, and will, go for long stretches using it every weekend. My experience is that sit-ons spend a lot of time just sitting-on a garage floor, sawhorses, or a trailer because they are a PITA to load.
  3. A lighter boat, everything else being equal, is faster on the water. In addition, a narrower boat is easier to paddle and faster. Imagine sitting in the middle of a typical 14ft, flat-bottom jon and trying to paddle it like a kayak. You would need an incredibly long paddle, and would get tired very quickly and generate very little power due to the mechanical disadvantage. A sit-on is obviously not as bad, but I will say I have never lost a race to a sit-on kayak. I can cover in a half day routes that my sit-on buddies need an overnighted to traverse. This means I can hunt places that most are not willing/able to access in their boats. I see this frequently out duck hunting. There will be lots of kayaks within a mile of the boat ramp, and hardly any 2 miles out.
A sit-in also let's you sit at or below the waterline. This not only gives you a low and stable center of gravity (making you incredibly "tip-proof" on the water), but also allows for a lower profile on the water. While not a huge advantage for the typical deer hunter, it is a huge advantage for a waterfowler. I can actually stick my feet all the way down in the bow of my kayak and lay my head on the seat like a pillow. This let's me cruise under downed trees that would stop most paddlers. As long as the top of my cockpit will clear, I can get through! And once I slip back into those undisturbed stretches of creek and bayou, I can keep a low profile while I float shoot wood ducks.

As far as the supposed 3 big disadvantages of a sit-in; stability, capacity, and safetythey're all a non-issue for the typical saddle hunter.

On the water a sit-in is more stable due to the low center of gravity. Most people flip getting in and out. I promise you, if you can sit on a bed and swing your feet up onto it, you can get in a sit-in and never worry about flipping it. Load your butt first!

Capacity is also a non-issue. My gear consists of a backpack and a weapon. Both if these fit in a well thought out sit-in with room to spare for a cut-up deer. If you can't cut them up, buy a canoe. It will be lighter, narrower, and more spacious than a sit-on, and be faster to boot.

And finally, safety. I have heard it repeated ad nauseam that sit-ons are safer due to their air tight design and scupper holes. I would point out that in the event of a man-overboard situation, a polyethelyne boat is naturally buoyant, and contains additional flotation to keep it from sinking. Re-entry is usually as simple as flipping the boat and crawling in over the bow so as not to flip the boat again on it's short axis. If you flip it carefully, you shouldn't fill the cockpit with water. If you do, it is true you'll have to bail it out. However, this is a fair tradeoff given the difficulty of flipping a lb sit-on boat while treading water!

I know a lot of guys like their sit-ons, and kill deer out of them. My dad likes his summits, and kills deer out of those too! But if you like to hunt lighter, faster, and deeper, a sit-in makes sense like a saddle does!

For the visually inclined, here's a video of me going over my very simple (and dirty, shame on me) kayak, as well as loading, unloading, and shouldering it. I hope this helps anyone looking at adding a kayak to their list of hunting tools.


MY NEW HUNTING KAYAK - Nucanoe Frontier 12

The 12 Best Hunting Kayaks

First came kayak fishing as a draft of fresh air that helped modernize the good old canoe and pier based fishing. Now, the versatility of kayaking has spread over other river and lake sports.

After all, there are many types of lunch lurking around the lake, and not just beneath it. Kayak hunting is now promising to expand the market and bring a new wave of people to share the hobby with. These are the best hunting kayaks to use for recreational or professional use.

VIBE Sea GhostVIBE Sea Ghost

The sit-on-top VIBE Sea Ghost is usually marketed as a saltwater-resistant fishing kayak, but it doubles as a hunting kayak perfectly.

Large, wide, and stable, the Sea Ghost offers a solid piece of boat from which to shoot at whatever comes your way. Its superior tracking means that you can also stalk your prey silently and accurately for several miles.

Its crafter, VIBE, is an up-and-coming adventure gear maker that understands that accuracy requires an edge of convenience. That is why the vessel&#;s multiple mounts and accessories, even if designed with rods and nets in mind, are well-made and easy to adapt.

The Sea Ghost is 11 feet long, 32 inches wide. It weighs 62 pounds, but can carry up to pounds. It’s available in different color combinations, including factory-made unique camo patterns.


Beavertail-Phantom-Duck-Hunting-KayakBeavertail Phantom Duck Hunting Kayak

The Beavertail Phantom is one of the top hunting models from a company that specializes in hunting. This is a sturdy and resistant catamaran-style kayak with superb stability and a practical non-skid surface, which will allow you to shoot, throw decoys, and move with freedom all around the spacious vessel.

Furthermore, this kayak was designed for low-depth waters. It only needs four inches of water to float. The back storage cabin is also spacious and will fit all your gear without feeling like you&#;re playing Tetris. Add some of Beavertail&#;s own pit covers or ammo racks, which are available from the seller, and you get a little sailing tank.

The Beavertail Phantom is 9 feet long, 32 inches wide, and weighs 55 pounds. It has a total carrying capacity of pounds.


Malibu X-FactorMalibu X-Factor

Malibu calls its 2-person sit-on-top X-Factor the &#;pickup truck&#; of kayaks, and thanks to its resilient materials, solid construction, and huge carrying capacity, the nickname feels very appropriate.

Thanks to its chops, this is a very stable kayak that can keep you on your feet even through choppy, rough waters. Seawater resistant by design, the X-Factor provides a very smooth sail while on a lake. The interior layout is very organized, with cup holders, ammo cases, and a 4-point rear hatch.

At feet long, 33 inches wide, and has a total capacity of pounds, the X-Factor is heavy: it weighs 97 pounds – so you will want the second person around to help you carry it!


Feelfree Lure Feelfree Lure

Type: Sit on top kayak

Here’s another fishing model that performs very well when chasing life on the surface of a lake. The Lure sit-on-top kayak is wider than average. If you’re looking for a kayak where you can move around without capsizing or catching any duck&#;s attention, this is a perfect choice.

In addition, the Lure has a big, comfy and adjustable seat that can easily come out if you ever want to maximize the amount of available space. Not that capacity is tight by any means. The Lure is spacious enough to compete with many canoes. A good sonar and tracking pod round out this great hunter-friendly kayak.

The Feelfree Lure weighs 74 pounds, but can carry up to It&#;s feet long and 34 inches wide.


Native Watercraft Slayer PropelNative Watercraft Slayer Propel

The name of this kayak leaves little room to doubt their manufacturer&#;s intentions. The Slayer Propel is a well-rounded, resistant option for those who need to be able to move around quietly, paddle their way to lost corners, and abruptly start a thrilling chase.

Native Watercraft is a hunter&#;s favorite brand thanks to their attention to detail. This shows greatly around the sit-on-top Slayer, where nothing was skimped in the name of versatility. The kayak comes with an easy-to-switch double pedal mechanism. The paddles are also light, silent, and padded, so they won&#;t detract any attention from your rifle or bait.

The Slayer Propel is a relatively small kayak as it&#;s only 10 feet long and weighs 62 pounds. However, it can carry up to pounds — enough for a bountiful harvest.


NuCanoe PursuitNuCanoe Pursuit

Open space is a highly sought-after quality in hunting kayaks, and NuCanoe doesn&#;t believe this should come at the expense of somewhere to sit. The sit-on-top Pursuit has, therefore, a rotating back seat that still provides plenty of space across most of the hull.

Stable and quick, the Pursuit feels just at home in shallow waters and deep lakes alike. Internal holders and a spacious dry box all find their place alongside a wide hull that you can rig up whichever way you prefer. This kayak is also fully compatible with any of NuCanoe&#;s waterfowl camo covers.

This kayak is feet long, 35 inches wide, and weighs just under 82 pounds.


VIBE Skipjack VIBE Skipjack

Although small and able to fit just one person, the Skipjack sit-on-top kayak makes it very easy to go unnoticed by the riverside. It was meant to pack as many accessories as possible — and since VIBE&#;s hunting gear is renowned for their durability and smart design, the end result puts everything you need within hand&#;s reach.

Storage is plentiful inside the Skipjack. In addition to wide space on top of the hull, it has two separate water-tight hatches. Their curiously-designed &#;paddle parks&#; take up a lot less space than standard paddle holders. In addition, as with any VIBE kayak, the vessel is stable and fast.

Nine feet long and pounds-light, the Skipjack fits in the back of any SUV or even a small pick-up truck.


Hobie Pro AnglerHobie Pro Angler

The foot sit-on-top Hobie Pro is a routine sight in listings for best kayaks in general. It tracks well and is one of the most maneuverable models available right now. It also provides a lot of storage space and can resist fairly shallow waters.

All these qualities make it an excellent hunting kayak, in addition to a superb Angler. So don&#;t be discouraged by the name, and outfit it with a good camo cover, as this highly-ranked model is sure to continue gaining praise by kayaking experts and newcomers to the sport alike. Alternatively, simply get a sand or olive-colored version.

Fourteen feet long, pounds heavy, and with a width of 38 inches, this is a royalty-worthy king sized kayak.


Sun Dolphin BaliSun Dolphin Bali

Unique among all the kayaks listed here, the sit-on-top Sun Dolphin Bali can fit 1, 2, or 3 people — or just one hunting expert alongside everything he or she needs to catch a succulent family-sized piece of loot.

This kayak has three separate dry storage compartments and fully adjustable seats. It also has paddle holders and mounts meant for rod holders. However, the smart shopper will find many compatible gun holders and ammo cases.

The Sun Dolphin Bali is inches long, and thanks to its width of 34 inches, it is graded to carry up to pounds. That&#;s a very good deal, considering it only weighs 70 pounds wet.


Brooklyn Kayak Company UHBrooklyn Kayak Company UH

The UH is a great option for those who like to keep their hands free while seeking a good place to set up their base camp — or when in the middle of the hunt itself. This is thanks to its superior paddle system, which was designed with long smooth distances in mind.

And anybody who has ever tried to approach a duck without alerting the entire pond knows that a smooth sail is essential!

This sit-on-top vessel is fast and highly maneuverable, but its non-skid bottom will make it easy to move inside and find a comfortable position. The storage area is also roomy, and it comes equipped with seat, paddles, and rudder system.

It’s 10 feet long and 34 inches wide, but only weighs 60 pounds, so one strong person can handle it by themselves.


Wilderness Systems ATAK Wilderness Systems ATAK

A great heavy-weight option for waterfowl hunters, the ATAK offers great tracking and easy customization options.

The ATAK comes with a superb sit-on-top fishing throne, but if you are fond of catamaran-like surfaces in which to prowl about, you will find the ATAK to offer all the space you need. The kayak was purposely built with an open layout to accommodate those who need their gear to be just right.

The ATAK is 14 feet long, 34 inches wide, and weighs 95 pounds. It can carry up to pounds.


Beavertail Final Attack Portable PitBeavertail Final Attack Portable Pit

The Final Attack by Beavertail provides an opportunity to bring your very own warship to the local waters. Although an intimidating site while at the store, the marsh brown paint and lidded &#;coffin-like&#; design will hide you completely from approaching ducks and deer.

Although not compatible with rapids or choppy rivers, this blind pit hunting model will be near-invisible next to a mangrove, in shallow waters, or behind a well-chosen piece of brush. A sniper-worthy ammo rack completes the package.

It’s 8 feet x 44 inches, with a weight of 85 pounds.



Why Hunt In A Kayak?

If you are an old school lake hunter who has grown used to you gear and methods, you may feel like kayak hunting is a fad that will pass away soon enough. However, even if temporary, it&#;s a trend worth experimenting with.

Kayak fishing offers many advantages from traditional duck boats or john boats. First and foremost, it is a much more affordable alternative — which makes it a lot easier to pass on the love of the sport to newcomers. A top-of-the-line hunting kayak can cost about as much as a low-range john boat.

If you already have a boat, though, you can still benefit from a hunting kayak&#;s easy transport and stealth. Sometimes, there is just no time to drive the big RV for a quick weekend hunt, whereas most kayaks can easily be boarded on a pick-up truck or even a large SUV.

Kayaks also tend to be easier to hide and to silence — and this is something that any experienced hunter can appreciate. With a good hunting kayak, you can stealthily reach that shallow mangrove where your other boat can&#;t fit.

What Makes A Good Hunting Kayak?

It&#;s still important to consider that kayaks come in many shapes and sizes — and if you feel like a kayak just doesn&#;t provide enough bang to go chase ducks, then you may have been looking at the wrong kind of kayaks.

Just like there are white-water kayaks meant to brave rapids or to serve as an excuse to get a shoulder workout, there are also many that target adventurers and survivalists in particular. Many hunting kayaks were designed thinking of hiding rifles, and some fishing kayaks are versatile enough to be adapted for hunting easily.

The first attribute of a good hunting kayak is that should be large and stable. You will need to keep things smooth and steady enough to aim properly. Lake hunting is not as much about chasing prey as it is about surprising it, so you will want wider models with good tracking rather than slimmer, faster kayaks.

You should also seek out models that provide good storage space, both on top and in a dry box. In general, 2-person models tend to be better here.

In addition, many models come with holders for your hunting gear and rifles. If budget is an issue, sometimes, the bungee can be adapted with some needle and thread. While there are many ways to add some camouflage to your kayak to help it go unnoticed, the chance to buy one with a factory-made camo paint job never goes amiss.


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