John's Journal...

Belly Boating to Ducks

Day 3: Tactics to Use When Belly Boating to Ducks

Editor’s Note: Belly boats can take you safely to the secret places ducks love – spots where other hunters never go.

I purchased a belly boat, so I could wade a beaver swamp and not get wet if I fell in a stump hole or a beaver run. Once I began to hunt with a belly boat, I learned that the little craft was useful in more ways than I had imagined.

Slough Slipping:

Click for Larger ViewToday if I find a slough that comes-off the main river and flows into a backwater, often I’ll locate a shallow place on the edge of the slough where I can wade, drift and float with the current toward the flooded timber where the waterfowl are feeding. By floating and wading and often making use of the current, I can get within easy range well before the ducks flush. I call this slough slipping. When one of my favorite rivers flows over its banks, the surrounding woods will fill with water, and northern mallards will come in to feed. Click for Larger ViewThat’s a great time to slough slip to the big flights of ducks. If I can find a fallen tree close to a feeding area where I know waterfowl have been coming-in for several days, I’ll often go to that downed tree, sit in my belly boat and wait for the ducks to arrive. That kind of ambush is very simple, if you take a few precautions and plan your hunt in advance.


I always scout my waterfowling areas in my belly boat. The afternoon before the morning when I intend to go on a hunt, I’ll put on my waders, get into my belly boat and wade to my ambush site with a can of fluorescent spray paint. After I decide exactly where I’ll set-up, I’ll put a small dot of fluorescent paint on the backsides of trees as I retrace my steps out of the water. When I reach the water’s edge, I spray a large dot of fluorescent paint on the tree where I plan to enter the water. Then the next day in the early morning, I can follow the fluorescent paint back to my stand by using a small flashlight. I’m set-up in my belly boat and ready when the ducks come-in to feed.

Stalking Ducks:

Click for Larger ViewAnother of my favorite ways to use my belly boat is to stalk the ducks. Because walking in shallow water with a belly boat floating down around your knees isn’t easy, I’m forced to move much slower than normally. That makes me more cautious and quieter when I approach rafting ducks in a swamp or flooded timber. The trick is to get close-enough to shoot when they jump without spooking the waterfowl when you’re still out of range. If the water becomes deep, I don’t have to wade around a hole. I simply lower myself down into the belly boat, push-off and cross the hole. If I step into a beaver run or a stump hole unexpectedly, the belly boat checks my fall and keeps me dry so that I can continue hunting.

After the ducks do flush, and I take a shot or two, I simply move close to timber or brush, which makes a natural blind where I can wait for returning ducks. When I flush ducks, some of the birds usually return in 5 or 10 minutes. A few members of the flock either will fly-back over to check-out what has spooked them or fly-back directly to the same spot to feed. Click for Larger ViewApparently, the best way to take the ducks after they jump is to let the first two or three returning ducks light and begin to feed. When the rest of the ducks circle over, the early arrivals will decoy the flock back down, and I’ll enjoy some fast shooting.

To learn more about my belly boat, go to, or visit your local Bass Pro Shops’ store.

Tomorrow: More Tactics to Use for Belly Boating to Ducks

Check back each day this week for more about "Belly Boating to Ducks "

Day 1: Why I Needed a Belly Boat to Hunt Ducks
Day 2: What You Need to Wear to Belly Boat Safely and Comfortably to Ducks
Day 3: Tactics to Use When Belly Boating to Ducks
Day 4: More Tactics to Use for Belly Boating to Ducks
Day 5: Helpful Hints to Belly Boat for Ducks Successfully

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Entry647, Day 4