Boating for Whitetails

When brainstorming ways to access public land for whitetails — and distance yourself from other deer hunters — don’t forget the boating option.

Boating for Whitetails

In an online article I wrote this summer called “Celebrating Summer Whitetails,” I detailed the massive wind storm that struck Wisconsin in July 2019. I pursue whitetails on public land in some of these wind-damaged areas, and access after the storm has been extremely difficult, and at times impossible, due to the number of downed trees.

While looking at maps recently, I wondered about a massive public land parcel I’d never hiked or hunted before. I knew this area had been decimated in the wind storm, so walking the property wasn’t an option. But I noticed a lake bordered it on one side, and figured I could drop in a row boat at the lake access and then travel across the water. This would allow me to check out a distant part of the parcel that I predicted hadn’t experienced much hunting pressure since the storm.

I was right.

After rowing to the distant shoreline and beaching the boat, I began my scouting mission on foot. The area was tore up with buck sign, and my only mistake was not packing my bow and hunting clothing for an evening sit.

I plan to return soon to bowhunt the property. During my scouting hike, I piled up some logs to build one ground blind near a funnel. It should be ideal for an all-day sit in early to mid-November when bucks are traveling to find a doe in heat. I also found an old logging road that points toward some nearby private land ag fields; this should be a fantastic area for an evening sit.

Not only will my boat allow me to access this public land, but having the boat will also make it possible to haul in a portable treestand (legal) if desired, and haul out a dead deer if I’m successful.

The author spent a couple minutes searching Facebook Marketing with key words “duck boat for sale” and found these three rigs near his home. The boats on trailers were priced at $600, the other one was only $400.
The author spent a couple minutes searching Facebook Marketing with key words “duck boat for sale” and found these three rigs near his home. The boats on trailers were priced at $600, the other one was only $400.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to purchase a used row boat, canoe or kayak. As I was writing this article, I found a few on Facebook Marketplace near me priced at $600-ish for a row boat and trailer. I used the words “duck boat for sale” in my search. Used canoes are priced at approximately $300, and some kayaks are even less. In my opinion, this money could be the best investment you ever make for outstanding deer hunting.

Note: A kayak works well for gaining access, but it can be more limiting for hauling a dead deer. It all depends on the make and model. The lead photo of this article features a NuCanoe, which obviously has enough space to carry a big-bodied whitetail, but you won’t find a used one for a couple hundred dollars on Facebook.

Shane Simpson, who has an outstanding YouTube channel filled with informative deer and turkey content, used a small kayak on the public land bowhunt featured below. Check out his innovative method for transporting a tagged doe!

Shane Simpson got creative after harvesting this doe on public land accessed via kayak.
Shane Simpson got creative after harvesting this doe on public land accessed via kayak.
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