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Today is May 9, 2021


The kayak and the hunter

By Tony Kinton

The kayak and the hunter

The author paddles along a stream with public land lining each side. He dragged the kayak up the river bank and into an old river run. Wood ducks were there. Photo by Sam Valentine.

In a tall pine, partially hidden but visible in pieces to one who took time for close scrutiny, he sat proudly.

Eyes keen for a fish breaking the surface or simply sequestered there in solitude and wishing no disturbance, I don’t know. But he was there. Not the most common sight in these parts, but then again not terribly rare. A bald eagle. I watched closely. He then slid from that selected limb and spread wings in a grandiose display that spoke of freedom. Overhead now, appearing close enough to touch. The moment was filled with wonderment.

At the time, a month or so back as you read this and before the leaves turned orange, brown and gold and the skies azure, I was paddling a small kayak along a waterway that had public land open to hunting on each side. Some specific guidelines were naturally in place regarding that hunting, but it was open, waiting there for use but begging respect. The purpose of my paddling, in addition to general sightseeing, was a scouting mission. I had in mind not the animal that claims the most attention among state hunters — the whitetail — but squirrels and perhaps the wood duck. Seasons for deer and ducks would be along directly but not before squirrels were legal. For you see, I am a squirrel hunter, have been since my dad took me when I was a 10-year-old. That has now been a couple years past six decades.

I had long considered such a vehicle for such an endeavor but had somehow never gotten around to trying it. The canoe, yes, but not the kayak. The latter is more effective in a great many situations, and this was one of them. Pullover and explore the countryside. Drag the craft to a flooded slough for some potential fishing or duck hunting as seasons allow. The canoe will do the same, but weight and bulk can be an issue. Not so much with the kayak.

Some might ask why in regards to this entire kayak enterprise. A valid answer is the hunting territory that is available. Streams that course through Wildlife Management Areas, National Forest lands and National Wildlife Refuges across the state afford basic access to surrounding woods and a float may be the most expeditious means by which to reach them. Age, something with which I have become acquainted, may preclude long hikes to quiet spots seldom visited, but a small watercraft can open some productive venues that are off-limits to motorized contrivances.

Simply, a kayak — or canoe but with added restrictions — can enhance hunting opportunities. Public lands are many; streams or lakes can become the means by which to explore and hunt some viable sites. And always wear a Personal Flotation Device when on the water. Oh, and you may see an eagle along the way. 


Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit for more information.

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