Paddle up waterfowl

Paddleboards like the Flatstalker are excellent vessels for getting into hard-to-reach places during waterfowl seasons.

Get off the beaten path one-man vessels

Years ago, in the back of a lake near home, my father took me on my first duck hunt. The water was cold, the world was dark, and paddling the wooden johnboat deep into the swamp was tiring. It was nearly enough to turn a young future hunter away from the sport.

Eventually, we started using a small, single-man boat similar to a Pelican Bass Raider in a camouflage pattern to get back to those tough-to-reach spots where many ducks would go to escape hunting pressure on the open areas of the wooded lake.

Several years ago, I came across the Stealth 1200 and Stealth 2000 duck boats by Beavertail. Considered sneak boats by the manufacturer, they are not much different than the new lines of sit-on-top kayaks. Both models address the needs of the duck hunter with features such as molded-in gun holders, shell-box holders, decoy slots for ease of placement and picking up spreads, and a sturdy platform for shooting from the water.

North Carolina-built Creek Boat (Greentop Enterprise 704-982-0993) is a favorite among solo hunters who want something that is low maintenance, quick to load and unload and easy to use.  They can be paddled but are designed with the electric motor in mind.

Primarily built for fishing flats such as in Florida, the Flatstalker is a paddleboard with a large cooler designed to integrate with the board at different locations in order to balance properly for the paddler. Unlike most paddleboards, this board is built like a tank, and it paddles like a tank compared to other paddleboards. But it is built like a battleship and has also gained a small following among hunters trying to get into hard-to-reach places.

And that brings us to the current wave of sit-on-top kayaks. Although they are built to last, they are easy to paddle, track near perfectly, are comfortable to sit in, and are super stable. Large, open decks both in front of the paddler and behind (usually designed to hold a cooler or crate) allow plenty of room for equipment such as decoys.

Many have molded-in or built-in slots to hold small tackle bags that naturally work for holding shotgun shells or various duck calls. Molded areas across the decks designed to keep the paddle from rolling out of the way when fishing also hold the shotgun nearby for the ready when the birds begin flying.

Have you considered filming your hunt? Many kayak anglers have become camera savvy with action cameras such as the GoPro and any number of others that are on the market. There are an unlimited number of camera angles available on these kayaks, including using existing rod holders to mount an over-the-top view camera pole that offers a unique and enjoyable memory.

Many kayaks, including the Old Town Predator, come in a camouflage design, although the one drawback is the numerous bright colors available from each of the manufacturers. These color schemes can be overcome by camouflage webbing or tarps similar to those used on hunting blinds and stands simply by opening them over the deck.

No longer is the solo duck hunter burdened by cumbersome boats that are nearly impossible to handle alone. We now have an option that allows us much more freedom and enjoyment.

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