By: Justin Hunold
A Pirogue is a small boat, which in general description is shaped a lot like if a canoe and Jon boat had an offspring. They are very common in the gulf states, and actually derive from general use handmade boats of the European colonies. They have been a staple in not only waterfowling but also fishing and trapping in the American south for years. Yet, these boats rarely make their way out of the swamps of the Mississippi Delta nearly as often as their utility would encourage it. They are a great way to get into the outdoors.
Enter the modern kayak. Not so long ago kayaks were seen more as an addition to the sportsman’s fleet rather than a do all option, but where the useful pirogue stifled the modern kayak flourished. Between whole fishing tournament series, sport specific and price point kayaks they are checking more boxes for outdoors folks on a daily basis, and in a lot of cases are the lone watercraft that the person owns.
So, what do you need to start waterfowl hunting from a kayak? Let’s start by assuming you have the kayak, and you’re set on paddling or pedaling (in some cases) the kayak. It can be a sit on top or sit in model, although the sit on top versions are really taking over and are likely best suited for hunting.
Personal Flotation Device – A life jacket or PFD is the very first thing you’ll need. This is common sense but it has to be listed. No adventure is worth your life, and kayaking in the dark, cold and inclement weather can all lead to catastrophes unforeseen on a lazy summer float. A PFD can save your life. I would look at a drab or camo color, paddling specific model. They are normally cut high in the back for comfort in a seat and have little to no flotation around your arms or shoulders for ease of movement. This means in some models they will be shooter friendly.
Boat Lights– A good spotlight is a minimum and really a couple of bow mounted LED lights are even better. Your headlamp can do some of the work but the bigger lights that are sold on Amazon or in big box stores are really where its at. I’ve tried to navigate my way through a marsh and standing timber with just a headlamp and believe me its no fun. Plus, I’ve never ended up in the exact right place. Let’s double up and call this a safety feature as well, lights make you visible when crossing the water in the dark. A reasonable light or two mounted to the bow of your yak will help more than you could have imagined.
Dry Bag– Some folks will use a blind bag in this spot and that’s fine, and hell I still do a lot of the time. When I am making a long paddle or and am in deep water, or using my kayak as my hide I will use a drybag. They normally float, so if you drop it in, you’re all good. I like having my extra layers in there, maybe some food and also some of my back up electronics and first aid kit.
Decoy Gloves– I put out and pick up decoys in these but I also paddle in them. Remember waterfowl hunting is all degrees of being wet and cold. The idea is to minimize these conditions to be a more attentive, more capable hunter. Decoy Gloves help this a lot.
Floating Gun Case– Nobody wants their Retay sitting at the bottom of a lake. You also want it to be ice free and ready to go when the birds are lighting in. This is the answer.
Floating Dry Box– Your phone and other electronics can go in one. I like two so that my keys and wallet go in the other and then go in the kayak dry storage. I can get home without my cell phone, but I cannot say the same about the keys and wallet. I beg you don’t put all your essentials in one place….you can also put some extra shells in the phone box, incase things go winchester or maybe a bonus species shows up like Geese.
Hide/Blind– From factory made blinds that start at about $200 down to $15 burlap even if you’re not using your boat as a hide you still have to hide it from view. That’s up to you. I will say some of my very best hunts have come from sitting on a stool in a stick blind with a very well hidden boat under brush and burlap. This all has to do with your style of hunting. No matter what you gotta hide that Yak!
Everything listed Here
There are now hunting specific kayaks out there and you can always get a pirogue by either having one made or DIYing it. In the end though the modern kayak renaissance has made the boats of today so versatile that you can hunt by morning, regroup and take the same kayak over and fish an evening bass tournament. They will haul hundreds of lures or dozens of decoys, or if you’re like me a cooler full of cold ones on a relaxing evening float. Kayaks have a way of getting you close to nature that other vessels seem to not have. I for one plan on using my kayak extensively to access a lot of ducks and geese that get into some skinny water where other boats dare not go. Just like the pirogues of old.