Words and photos by Jeff Little
When I started fishing out of a kayak on the upper Potomac River in 1998, I didn’t know anyone else who did it. It was many years before I stopped getting long stares at the boat ramp followed by twenty questions about my rig and how I was able to stay upright when I caught fish. Adam Corry has been duck hunting out of a kayak for more than a decade. These days, the Wilderness Systems pro staffer runs the Kayak Hunting Facebook group, but he is still as much in the minority as I was in 1998. This is part two of our twenty question session. Here’s part one. -JL
#13-14: What factors into your decision to abandon a spot you’ve set up on try somewhere else near by? Are you any more mobile in your kayak?
Corry: I hope to have done my homework and end up on the “X”, but it doesn’t always happen like that. If I can watch birds dropping into close proximity of my spot but are not interested in my setup I’m changing me first. I ask myself what I am doing wrong. If I can’t figure it out I’ll move to set up on those birds. And without a doubt I feel more mobile in my kayak in those situations. When in the boat I will stick to a spot until lunch time and then make a change to prepare for the evening flurry. It’s just a question of the gear and bulk holding me back. The kayak relieves that even if it’s all in my mind.
#15: Do you think that because you are in a smaller craft, that blending in is easier than a traditional boat or a blind?
Corry: I think it depends on the available cover in the area but I can tell you that less boat and being lower to the water means less cover around you is needed.
#16-17: Do you know many other kayak hunters in your area? What trends do you see in the sport in its infancy?
Corry: I’m seeing more and more these days. I’ve always seen guys here and there with canoes and a few kayaks, but kayaks are becoming more popular. I think the main thing is that the kayak fishing explosion is bleeding over into the waterfowl world and today’s purpose-built kayaks are an excellent option.
#18: What keeps people from trying a kayak if they are used to more traditional hunts?
Corry: I get the same responses all the time. “It’ll flip when you shoot,” or “Too cold out there for that.” My favorite is just the “You hunt out of it?” I think it’s a combination of those things and being used to a way of doing things. I often catch myself feeling like an outcast even with family (all in good fun) because it’s just different. But that talk stops when the ducks are in the bag and the conversation soon turns to how I made it happen on that particular hunt in the kayak.
#19: What advice would you have for a kayak angler or a hunter who thinks that he might want to get into kayak hunting?
Corry: If you already have the kayak and the experience then it is a real easy transition. I have found over the years that hunting out of my kayak has made me a gear minimalist, or at least a most-important gear only hunter. Stick to the things you really need. Don’t overlook safety, and not just your PFD, but cold weather gear as well. Always have extra clothing, food, water and worst case preparations in the dry bag. Take your rig out to an area you can safely and legally shoot and take some practice shots to get used to how your kayak handles recoil in different positions. Find your comfort zone. If you don’t have a kayak and want to start hunting out of one, go to reputable local dealer and have them walk you through options. Take into consideration stability and weight capacity. Color is not a bad thing to think about too. I recommend camo.
#20: What was your favorite hunting day on the water?
Corry: It’s hard to pick a favorite but I can choose one of the funniest . It was a real misery loves company kind of day. I took two coworkers to a great late season spot in a coastal bay and used the kayak as the gear hauler along the shoreline while they walked the marsh. We set up, killed birds, and had a good time all the while it was pouring and blowing. The kayak was my old sit-in Pamlico and had filled up with water pretty bad while sitting there and the wind kept slapping little wave spray into it all day. We didn’t want to stop hunting long enough to flip it over and drain it so we just put up with the sluggish paddling while picking up birds.
We go to leave and load the gear back up. All the water weight shifted probably ten times sending either a gun case, decoy bag, or bucket overboard and the tide was high leaving me to do the tippy toe dance to avoid water coming in over my chest waders which I did not prevent. What did I learn? Take a hand bilge if you have a sit-in. Oh and ask your friends if they want to bring their kayaks too to spread the gear. I didn’t even know that the one guy had one sitting home but didn’t bring it because I didn’t ask. That’s good information to have at the truck on the way back home.
#21-23: How healthy is the population of waterfowl on Maryland’s eastern shore? Do you see trends in it improving or declining? What affects those trends?
Corry: That’s a good question. Things look pretty good according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited when looking at migration monitoring and survey data. I truly feel that the glory days of duck hunting my grandfather used to talk about are not that far out of reach. A lot of the variables that affect trends are out of the control of local wildlife managers as the breeding grounds are far removed in most cases. That’s why collaborative efforts are so important. Still, having adequate habitat and food sources when the birds arrive here is just as important. The Eastern Shore has a lot to offer in those respects and that will always work to this areas benefit. The amount of agricultural acreage and adjacent surface water areas including Federal refuge lands in my part of the State is awesome and waterfowl love it.
Go back to part one of Hunting Waterfowl by Kayak: 20 Questions.
Jeff Little is a Regional Pro Staff Director for Wilderness Systems Kayaks and produces instructional fishing video for his Tight Line Junkie’s Journal Pivotshare channel.