A good duck blind, like a good fishing spot, requires a lot of effort to get to. An early wake up call, industrial strength coffee, a predawn trip across lakes or bay that leaves cheeks raw and digits numb, followed by a workout session lugging bags of decoys through sucking mud that would tax any NFL lineman is mandatory. Or so you think.
Duck hunting from a kayak is a pleasurable pursuit and the notion that one must go miles from the ramp to find fins and feathers is a flawed one.
One of my favorite venues is an isolated back bay near the Coastal Bend. The little bay is separated from its larger partner by a squat highway bridge. The bridge is low enough to block airboats from passing underneath; large patches of oyster shell armor the bay floor and are an effective deterrent to outboards. Kayaks, on the other hand, have no problem skimming over the hostile oyster beds.
I generally have my little bay all to myself and have yet seen another hunter or fisherman. It is only a matter of time though. Secret spots rarely remain secret but they often remain productive for long periods.
Hunting ducks from a kayak is basic hunting at its best. A shotgun, ammo, license and stamps, and a dozen decoys will get you started. If you have always wanted to try duck hunting but were scared of the investment or didnt want to store hundreds of decoys, this is a great way to get started.
As our states population continues to increase, so does hunting pressure. Over the last three decades, the size of a typical decoy spread has increased significantly. As a young waterfowl hunter, several dozen "dekes" were enough for me to get the attention of passing puddle ducks; however, as hunting pressure has increased the size of hunters decoy spreads have increased as well. It is now commonplace to see spreads numbering in the hundreds.
Although decoy bags are bulky, they are easy to lash onto your hull. Bungee cords of different lengths can be used individually or in combinations to achieve the proper length. If you dont have a forward hatch that you can slide your shotgun all the way into, lash your gun case to the side of your hull.
Kayaks can transport duck hunters into a completely new world, one where there are very few humans and ducks decoy much easier. These spots arent always obvious but they are around if you look. You must train your eye, much like seeing waking and tailing redfish. What is frustrating to the neophyte becomes second nature after just a few seasons.
Two of the best tools I know for finding these gems are Texas Lakes & Bays (published by Texas Fish & Game) and a road atlas. Start by looking for small roads that hug a shoreline of a targeted lake or bay. Always consider legal access when scouting launch sites. Although it may be just a short jaunt to the water from a road, it may not be legal. Look for No Trespassing signs and dont break the law.
Scouting an area beforehand pays dividends. What if others arrive before you? Is there enough area to park safely? Is there enough area to hunt without interfering with another hunter or hunters? Answers to these questions may affect your decision to hunt in a particular area or not.
Scouting during the season is helpful too. A quick drive-by might reveal 6 pickups parked next to the spot you had high hopes for. To the diligent go the rewards.
Since they are quick and easy to assemble, shore blinds are the kayak hunters best friend. Take advantage of any brush on the shoreline and fortify it with a cammo drape. If you dont mind a little extra gear, carry four light poles with you that you can jam into the mud on shore, making a simple framework to which you can hang the drape on.
A second cammo drape is needed to cover your hull. Drag your hull up into the shoreline grasses away from your blind and then make it blend into the scenery with the drape.
The last recommended item is a folding stool. In a tip of the hat to Father Time, I find it easier time rising from a seated position than a squatting one. Aluminum stools can be lashed to the deck of your kayak and their weight is negligible,
Most of the areas you will hunt in are near shallow water but this doesnt preclude you from travelling through some deep areas to get to blind. Chest waders inhibit the best swimmers and capsizing is a potential deadly event. Be smart and wear your PFD until you get to your blind.
One of the reasons I like to hunt from a kayak is all the "fishy" looking areas I go to. Once the sun rises and the birds stop decoying, it is time to stow the shotgun and pull out the rod. Bright bluebird skies and shallow water are the perfect mix for game fish that want to enjoy some warmer water.
If you love duck hunting but have shied way of late due to all the effort, consider hunting this year from a kayak. Contrary to popular opinion, productive duck blinds dont always take a lot of effort to get to.