The Perfect Duck Hunting Canoe Setup

Hunting for ducks is a popular sport, and if you intend to go duck hunting in a canoe, there are certain items you’ll have to place inside the boat in order for your expedition to be both safe and productive. There are several methods of hunting ducks from some type of boat and you’ll have to make sure certain items are in your possession before you head out on the water. The right duck hunting canoe setup requires knowing ahead of time what you’ll need to bring with you to be a success in the end.

The Canoe Itself

Most duck hunters use either a kayak or a standard canoe. The ideal boat should be made out of either royalex or fiberglass and not aluminum. Why? Because royalex and fiberglass boats are much quieter than those made out of aluminum. Of course, if you choose a boat made out of aluminum, you can sometimes dampen the sound with items such as old door mats or carpet pieces. Regarding length, the 10- to 18-foot canoes are often used to hunt ducks. They allow you to store quite a bit of equipment while still allowing for comfort as you row.

Let’s take a look at two methods used to hunt ducks from canoes or kayaks.

Method 1: Blind Hunting

Of the two methods of duck hunting discussed here, this one is easiest. With this method, you’ll be hidden from view until the ducks are within the right range. Keep in mind that ducks have great eyesight, which is why hunters’ canoes need “blinds” or something to keep them out of sight of those ducks. Only when the ducks are close to you and within shooting range should you make yourself known before you pull the trigger. Blind hunting works great both on land and on water.

Method #2: Float Hunting

This method sounds easy but actually takes a bit of practice to perfect it. It involves a certain amount of skill and speed, in part because the shot often needs to be made within seconds of seeing the duck. You simply head down the river in your boat and keep a constant eye on your surroundings. Once the ducks are spotted, you maneuver the boat to the right spot until the ducks are in range. Then, you’ll quickly shoot the ducks and paddle to where they are for retrieval.

How to successfully float hunt from a canoe

To be successful at these types of hunting, you’ll need to make sure the following items are inside of your boat:

  • Decoys – Either floating or non-floating decoys can be used while you’re hunting ducks. Floating decoys go on the water, while non-floating decoys are kept on the banks. You can keep several types of decoys in your canoe, and never place them too close to one another because this can deter ducks from landing somewhere close by since it looks like a threat to them.
  • Camouflage clothing including a face mask – Both you and the boat need to be camouflaged, and for the boat you can use tree branches, reeds, and any other materials that you find nearby. When covering the boat, don’t forget to cover all sides of it plus the top. This is necessary because most ducks will see the top of your boat first.
  • Duck calls – Single-reed duck calls are the most common, but there are different types to consider because they vary in range and pitch. If you’ll be using it over long stretches of water, high-pitch and long-range calls work best. When ducks are closer, a sound that doesn’t carry very far is likely best. You can also carry two different types of duck calls so that you’re prepared no matter what.
  • Shotgun – Most people who hunt ducks choose a shotgun, in part because this gun is useful both on land and on the water. The most common type is a 12-gauge shotgun with an open choke and one that is loaded with either #4 or #6 steel shots. What you want is a gun that creates a very dense and wide spray pattern when the duck is close by.
  • Mallard decoys – These aren’t a necessity, but many hunters claim they are much more successful at hunting ducks when they have about half a dozen mallard decoys in the boat to use when the time is right. The decoys are effective because they are very realistic-looking and ducks are attracted to them.
  • Gun holders – There are many different types of gun holders, but most involve flexible rubber fingers that grasp the butt of the gun and keep it in place until you need it. They are usually reasonably priced and many hunters choose to buy two of them so they can use one for the stock and one for the barrel of the gun.
  • Seat for the boat – When shopping for the seat to put in your canoe, remember that you get what you pay for, so spending a little extra money in the beginning is more likely to provide you with a seat that not only works great but will last for many years. For this item, shopping at brand-name stores usually gives you better results.

When you’re duck hunting, you have to concentrate on being as quiet as possible and as hidden as possible. This is why using camouflage and remaining silent are crucial when hunting ducks. If anything in your boat can clink or rattle at any point, it’s important that you soundproof it so you can get better results. This includes items such as shells, zips, or anything else that is loose in the boat.


Hunting ducks is part art, part science, so there is always something new to learn. Remember that ducks especially love large bodies of water such as lakes, bays, large rivers, or inlets. That’s where they feed and sleep, but even running river waters attracts them and can lure them away at times. Ducks also head to sheltered waters when it’s windy outside, which makes them easier to find. The important thing to remember is to have a good duck hunting canoe setup so that you’re prepared and can focus on the hunt.