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Whether you’re doing it on a lake, reservoir or coastal area, water-based hunting provides for one of the most challenging environments, however, it is also one of the most rewarding. To successfully hunt on water, you need all the right gear and equipment, along with expansive knowledge and tactics.

Waterfowl hunting is an experience which cannot be matched by land-based hunting. Taking to the water in pursuit of waterfowl is a big decision to make, however, and if you have never done it before there are a few advantages and disadvantages which should be carefully considered prior to going for it.

Advantages of Using a Boat

  1. Get Up Close and Personal
    They’re not called waterfowl for no reason; their natural habitat is the water. Mallard ducks and other delicious waterfowl spend the majority of their time in the water. When you head out hunting on a boat, you can get up close and personal with huge flocks and dramatically increase the number of waterfowl you manage to catch.
  2. Diversify Your Hunt
    Taking to the water will be a challenge for even the most seasoned of waterfowl hunters. Getting the technique right whilst in a boat takes time and it is a brilliant way to change things up and learn new hunting skills. In addition to this, it gives you the opportunity to hunt in a new and unfamiliar environment which is both exciting and possibly (highly) rewarding.
  3. A Wider Range of Hunting Hours
    Ducks tend to take to the water early on in the morning and spend significant portions of time there. By learning to hunt waterfowl in their natural habitat, you increase the times of day during which you can go hunting. Many seasoned waterfowl hunters take to the water during the early hours and then progress to land as the hours tick over.

Disadvantages of Using a Boat

  1. Harsher Weather Conditions
    Spending time out on the open water, especially during autumn, can bring adverse weather conditions which can change in a matter of seconds. When you go out on the water, it is important that you dress appropriately and take extra equipment to keep you safe, dry and warm should the heavens open and the winds begin to chill your bones.
  2. It is Inherently More Dangerous
    If you have no boating experience whatsoever, it is advisable to learn the basics before you attempt to use a boat for hunting. Although inland bodies of water may look calm and serene, they can be very dangerous. You need to be able to confidently and properly control your vessel and regain control should the waters become choppy or you hit an obstruction. In addition to this, there could be obstacles below the surface, so you should also be a competent swimmer.
  3. It Can Take Time
    When you are on the water, you generally have a smaller area in which you can work. Because of this, you may spend more time waiting for waterfowl to show up or fall for one of your traps.


In contrast, land-based hunting is a whole different story. A larger hunting area means more room for laying traps, concealing yourself and for the waterfowl themselves to come in for a landing.

If you are keen on taking to the water, then you must be prepared to spend longer than usual on the hunt… this isn’t a problem for most, however! Getting hold of a boat and hunting on the waterfowl may sound like a simple task, but it isn’t! Although it’s easily accessible, the act of water-based hunting requires lots of equipment, knowledge and skill to get right.

- Jonny Mac

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