Stealthy pirogues pay off during late-season hunting trips

Using a pirogue is an effective way to get to that hunting spot. (Photo by Terry L. Jones)

Deer, duck and squirrel seasons are still open in January, but the game is wary after months of hunting. Using a pirogue or jon boat this time of year to creep along creeks, sloughs, and lake edges can be an effective way to hunt because they are so quiet and stealthy.

For many years, I have hunted out of a 12-foot fiberglass pirogue, while Clay Scoggin hunts in a 14-foot jon boat.

Scoggin and I both wear waders in the boat for warmth and to stay dry. Unlike Scoggin’s, mine are not camouflaged, so I wear a leafy ghillie suit and head net over them. I think it really helps to disguise me as a threat because when deer see me, they sometimes hesitate before running off.

A good set of binoculars; a waterproof box to keep a wallet, camera, keys, and First Aid kit; a thermos of hot coffee; snacks and a change of dry clothes for the ride home complete our hunting kit.

Use your “long eyes”

When slipping around in a boat, use your “long eyes” to watch far ahead looking for ripples in the water or movement on the bank that might indicate ducks or other animals. A good pair of binoculars are also handy to scan the woods and water. And be particularly alert when drifting around a sharp curve because ducks often flush as you come into view.

Bring a dip net when squirrel hunting because they often sink like a rock. I only shoot a squirrel that will fall on the bank or in shallow water. If it does the latter, I can rake it up with the net if necessary.

When hunting any type of game from a small boat, it often pays to tie up or anchor and just watch the woods and water. Ducks constantly cruise up and down sloughs and creeks and can be ambushed that way.

Deer also like to follow the water’s edge. I carry a grunt and bleat call during the rut and tie up at a spot with good visibility and try the calls. If nothing appears within 10 minutes, I untie and resume my drift.

One of the things that both Scoggin and I enjoy most about hunting from a small boat is the beauty of the swamp. According to Scoggin, “Floating through old cypress trees is like being in God’s special nature cathedral and is peacefully humbling… You never know what you are going to see on the water, on the land, or around the bend, and all of life’s worries are on hold for a while.”

If you choose to hunt in a boat, remember that safety is paramount. Scoggin advises to always wear a life preserver and cancel your hunt if the current in the stream is too swift to be safe. Also, make sure someone knows where you are.

Hunt with a partner

Scoggin prefers hunting with a partner for safety’s sake. “So many bad things can happen on a float. With two people, one person falling out of a boat will be cold and laughed at as they make their way back to the landing. With one person, this could immediately be a life-threatening event.”

I hunt on Dugdemona River and Saline Bayou in North Louisiana, but this water-borne tactic will work anywhere. Because of their myriad waterways, Joyce and Manchac WMAs are great places to hunt out of a small boat.

Tickfaw State Park, located near Springfield, is close to those areas and would be a convenient place to stay while hunting. The 1,200-acre park is on the Tickfaw River, so you could also use your boat to fish while there.

Tickfaw is considered one of the state’s prettiest parks and has 14 cabins, 50 campsites, RV hookups, and a dump station. The cabins are fully stocked with a kitchen and cooking utensils, and towels and bed linens, and each campsite includes a firepit and grill.

There is something for everyone at Tickfaw. Load up your pirogue and enjoy the woods and water.

About Terry L. Jones 96 Articles
A native of Winn Parish, Terry L. Jones has enjoyed hunting and fishing North Louisiana’s woods and water for 50 years. He lives in West Monroe with his wife, Carol.

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