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Kayaking for Deer: 5 Reasons to Go in by Boat

Brodie Swisher

Deer hunting by boat is nothing new. Hunters have been using water access for decades to get closer to unsuspecting deer. However, kayaking for deer is more popular now than ever. Today’s kayaks allow hunters to hunt more efficiently than ever before due to the size and stability they now offer. 

Thinking about giving it a try? 

kayaking for deer

Here’s a look at 5 reasons you should go in by boat for your deer this season.

The Low-Impact Commute

Regardless of whether you’re hunting early season, or the middle of the rut, a long walk to the tree stand will typically leave you soaked in sweat. It may be no big deal at first, but as you climb into your stand and cool off, those sweaty clothes soon leave you cold and shivering. It’s a bad place to be. Hunting by kayak is much easier on the body. It delivers a low-impact commute to your stand that allows you to arrive without the excessive physical strain and sweat that comes with it. 

The kayak commute also allows you to lessen your ground contact, so there’s minimal scent left behind to spook deer. It’s simple. Less boots on the ground means less human odor to warn deer of your presence.

Greater Access 

A kayak opens the doors of hunting opportunity like nothing else, particularly on public land. Most public lands across the country will feature some type of water access. Creeks, rivers, and lakes around these public lands deliver the perfect approach route for your next deer hunt. Hunters learning to use a boat to tap into these locations can open a wealth of new hunting opportunities this season.
My biggest bow buck to date went down on a hunt where water access was in play. I slipped into a small island with a few friends, accessed with kayaks. The boat access allowed us to leave the crowds behind and have the island to ourselves on a cold, single-digit day in November. The end result was one of my best bucks yet. 

kayak in creek

A Silent Approach

I’ve used boats for over 20 years to access deer and turkey hunting opportunities, but always hated the noise from the outboard motor signaling my approach. I’ve used a trolling motor at times to lessen the noise, but a big boat simply comes with big noise. It’s inevitable. That’s why the kayak became my go-to vessel for getting in and out of the woods with far less noise in my approach. It allows me to go in super quiet.
Think about it. Deer rely on the noise we hunters make on our approach to the tree stand for survival. They hear us coming, and they make their retreat. That’s why slipping in by boat can greatly up the odds for success. 

On a number of occasions, I’ve paddled right up on deer, turkeys and predators that never knew I was in the world. 

The sound you’ll make as you paddle in to your hunting area is a natural sound, blending in easily with any waves splashing or water rippling. Deer hear the sounds of other animals in the water on a regular basis. The sounds made by a hunter approaching by kayak will typically go unnoticed by deer in the area. 

deer track by kayak

Cruising in From the Back Side

The average hunter will walk in to their tree stand location from the road, or parking area. We all like a simple approach to our stand. However, deer quickly pattern hunters in this routine. That’s why slipping in by water on the back side of a property can be such an effective way of picking a big buck off his normal routine. 

You can bet deer will quickly adapt to hunting pressure when the season starts. While younger deer may tolerate some hunting pressure, mature deer will not. They will retreat to thicker cover and move beyond their normal routine when hunting pressure moves in close. They will adapt to the presence of hunters, using escape routes and holding tight in bedding cover beyond most hunter’s reach. If you’ll find these hot spots along water access, you’ll have an incredible advantage for a back side sneak when using a kayak. 

hunting with kayak

Pack All Your Gear and Deer

One of the greatest advantages of hunting from a kayak is the ability to lighten the load on your back. No more hauling insane loads strapped to your backpack. The kayak can now do the heavy hauling for you. Tree stands, climbing sticks, packs and other supplies are much easier to haul by kayak than on your back. Some of the better kayaks on the market these days are capable of hauling some pretty serious loads, allowing you the opportunity to haul you and all your gear, as well as your deer, when success comes your way. 


Adding a kayak to your deer hunting strategy is next-level hunting at its best. It’s a fun and exciting way to add more adventure to your hunt, while delivering a more efficient means of hauling all your gear and deer. If you want to mix things up and try something new this hunting season, you should give kayak hunting for your next deer a serious look.

It’s a stealthy tactic that will open up new hunting opportunities, greater access, and a chance to leave the crowds behind.

Mossy Oak Store deer hunting

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