How to Hunt Public Land Ducks from a Kayak

How to Hunt Public Land Ducks from a Kayak

Many public-land hunters are used to setting up well before legal light to claim their spot. I used to motor out and set my decoys in the dark, allowing plenty of time for the marsh to settle down after I cut off my two-stroke outboard. Usually, I’d see a flurry of ducks that were gone before legal shooting light. A lot of ducks roost in the marsh areas I hunt, so even with a small motor, it was impossible to get set up without spooking birds.

Then a few seasons ago, I had some motor trouble and went hunting with my kayak instead. What a difference it made. Now I consistently kill more ducks at daybreak by sneaking in undetected via paddle power at the last minute. ­Kayaks are fantastic craft for accessing the shallow waters where puddle ducks spend most of their time, and they are just about silent if you don’t lean into the paddles too hard. The low profile of the vessel disappears against the bank if you trace the edges of channels or creeks too.

Paddle in just before shooting time and quietly get set up. As the stroke of the clock signals the start of another hunting day, gently slap the water with the blade of your paddle. The sound will put ducks in the air without sending them to the next county, and they will frequently trickle right in to your decoys.

To take advantage of this technique, practice paddling silently on some scouting runs before the season starts. When you can get in position without spooking any ducks, you’ll know you have it mastered. Just be prepared to have less time to drink your coffee in the marsh.

Written by The Editors for Field & Stream and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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Waterfowl Hunting Tips: Six Hacks For Hiding Your Layout Blind

Waterfowl Hunting Tips: Six Hacks For Hiding Your Layout Blind

Vanish from view with these layout blind concealment tips

Layout field blinds can help you disappear before the eyes of wary geese and ducks, or they can flare every bird that gets close enough to see the decoys. Whether you trudge back to the truck weighed down with your limit or an empty bird strap largely depends on how well you hide your blind. Here’s how to turn a hunter-size duffel bag into just another lump of innocent stubble.

1. Mud Bath

Yes, you shelled out a couple hundred bucks for a spanking-new layout, but your first task is to coat the entire thing with mud. New fabric has a sheen that flashes like a mirror, and you have to dull the shine. Don’t hold back. Mix thick mud in a bucket and slather it on with a mop or paintbrush. Once it dries, give the blind a light shake to dislodge large clods, but otherwise, keep as much dirt on the blind as possible.

2. Yard Work

Working natural cover like crop stubble, grasses, and stalks into your blind’s stubble straps is a crucial step in hiding effectively. Add pruning shears, hedge shears, and a lawn rake to your field gear list. As you’re setting up in the dark, a couple of hunters should be tasked with gathering loads of cover that match the surroundings. These hand tools cut the time required by half. Don’t spoil the look of your hunting area by gathering material near the blinds, though. Move a few dozen yards away.

Hidden waterfowl hunting blind Brian Grossenbacher

3. Trench Warfare

Early-morning light on a field blind can cast a 20-foot shadow and spook birds from a hundred yards. Dig a 6-inch—or deeper—pit to fit the footprint of the blind. This will lower the profile and reduce the shadow. Place a couple of decoys to the west of the blind to soften up the harsh outlines of its shadow.

4. Sock Setup

Late-season birds are particularly wary of bumps in fields. Vanish by crawling into the blind without setting up the internal metal rail structure. Prop your head on your shell bag and stay still. Is it as comfortable as a blind that’s fully set up? Nope. But carrying a full game strap will make you feel better.

5. Ice It Up

On still, cold evenings, try to set up in the dark the night before a hunt. Frost-free blinds are darker than blinds skimmed in the white stuff, which makes a difference during that first half hour until body heat melts the frost.

6. Reapply Makeup

Once you’ve kicked the blind doors open several times, take a few minutes, maybe while the dogs are working, to freshen the cover in your stubble straps. You need to be just as covered up an hour after shooting time as you were in the dark.

Written by T. Edward Nickens for Field & Stream and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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