Waterfowling without dogs


April 28, 2007, 03:11 AM
With my turkey season wrapped up, this is what's on my mind. Anybody go for this?
Scouting these new areas before and during turkey season, one thing I've noticed is that some swamps teeming with ducks and geese. I've never been able to go for waterfowl before, but it seems like a great opportunity. Most of it being more marsh than actual lake, I was thinking chest-waders would suffice for the most part. Still, for recovery's sake, should my friends and I look into a plastic kayak or two - or could we even get away with one of those inflatable floating fishing chairs, if anything? As a final worry, anybody ever been attacked by a beaver? They're all over :p
Really looking forward to trying something out this fall, but want to make sure that it's doable without dogs and think about how to approach it best.

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uk roe hunter
April 28, 2007, 03:24 AM
You can do it without a dog- but don't. It's not on to shoot stuff then not be able to retrieve it. I use a labrador, but lots of dogs can be trained to do the job.

April 28, 2007, 09:31 AM
Hunting with dogs is far more effective. Without & even with the best intentions, it is inevitable that you stand to lose more birds. Besides, watching a dog work is a pleasure unto itself. While using a float tube is feasible (I fish out of one A LOT), dropping a shotgun is also a possibility . . . chasing a cripple would be "Funniest Home Videos" material . . .

Bwana John
April 28, 2007, 03:56 PM
Be ready to get wet.

April 29, 2007, 01:43 AM
as i feared... well thanks for the input then. guess it'll be a little while 'til i take on waterfowling.

April 29, 2007, 09:28 AM
I used to hunt without a retriever most of the time (out of boat blinds, fixed blinds but never jump shooting). As long as you aren't shooting over moving water you should be OK if you have a boat or can wade the water. I've never lost a duck or goose except for the one that got hung up in the top of a very tall oak that I couldn't climb so I doubt a retriever would have helped much. Retrievers make the job easier and do add to the experience if they are well trained.

May 2, 2007, 10:27 PM
Get a lab. I am ashamed to say that over the years I have lost birds due to fast currents, wounded ones swimming out of range, and even turtles because I couldn't get to them. I tried the pirouge thing, but it is very inefficient, I have floated across creek channels on a bag of decoys (and yes I got stuck most of the time in the middle :(, and I have tried just about every other thing you could think of to get my birds.

Then I got a dog and even though I don't get to hunt as much as I used to, just the companionship and watching my dog work make the hunt. And my dog isn't even very good.

May 8, 2007, 07:29 AM
To some extent it depends on where you set up. We shoot woodies in some small, overgrown ponds. You can use a fishing pole and lure with large exposed treble hooks for retrieving. Even if I still had my lab, I'd never put him in that stinky water.

You can also jump shoot ditches and retrieve with hip boots or waders.

Rivers or large lakes are a different progam.

Where a dog is great is for cripples. Now I only use Hevi-Shot and the cripple thing is pretty much done.

May 8, 2007, 08:14 AM
You can do it, but you'll have to drop them on open water and have a boat handy if you ever want to find them. If you're willing to pass up shots over heavy cover you'll probably get some of them.

However if nothing else, maybe you'll learn to call them in close, which is very satisfying all by itself. I always enjoy the calling more then the shooting.

May 9, 2007, 10:08 AM
+1 on the fishing pole and top water lure, what we use over small tanks. You might invest in an RC boat, put a hook on it to retreve the ducks. While your at it put a decoy over it, so it helps both ways.

May 9, 2007, 10:52 AM
Only thing better than owning a hunting retriever is having a friend with a hunting retriever. That way he can buy feed, scoop poo, pay the vet, and all you have to do is call him up and invite him to go duck hunting.

May 9, 2007, 10:56 AM
My first advice: Get a dog.

However, if that's not possible, it can be done. I've done it, although while I've got some good stories, I can say that it was often frustrating.

First off, don't hunt alone. To retrieve the birds, you're going to get wet. You can get stuck. Do minimize the possibility of dying while "having fun", make sure you've got a buddy nearby.

Practice your shooting, a lot. You want to be able to KNOW you can drop a bird in a specific area. Ideally, you want it pretty much dead in the air, so it drops and doesn't move at all. Be ready to take a quick follow-up shot if one starts swimming.

As others have said, don't shoot over moving water.

Waders are good (especially neoprene ones). Always back them up with a life-jacket. Also, a long rope or piece of strong webbing (one end tied to you, one end held by your buddy) can help if things go badly wrong.

Channel your inner McGuyver. Fishing rods are good. I've used HUGE muskie lures before. Those collapsable decoy retrievers are great. The longer the better. I've used a stick and parachute cord. In warmer weather, I've taken off my boots and shirt and just gone swimming after a goose (I did mention to make sure it's dead, right?!).

Pass up shots that are too long or that you have any doubt you can't make. Like I said, you don't just want to hit the bird, you want to kill it in the air.

Unless it's a safety issue, don't give up looking for cripples. I can only think of one duck I lost, and I looked for almost three hours.

Frankly, putting up with junk like this is what drove me to get a dog.

May 9, 2007, 01:23 PM
"As others have said, don't shoot over moving water."

We have to shoot over moving water because if the birds land in the head-high reeds they're a pain to find and that's if you don't sink a leg into the muck up to the hip.

We retrieve with a camo'd 16' Carolina skiff.


May 9, 2007, 01:27 PM
i think a kayakl would work just fine, as long as you can carry it to where you're hunting and paddle around without too much brush/marshy stuff in the way. a dog is def the way to go....

May 9, 2007, 01:39 PM
*friend in Kayak* BAM BAM BAM ... "IN-COOOMMMMIIIING"... SPLASH... SPLASH... THUD... "Oops"....

Well Doctor, It's a funny story actually....

May 9, 2007, 01:50 PM
Duck = funny, but painful
Big Goose = not funny

This is sort of like the places we hunt. You just try to drop the birds in the creek and that means sticking to the low-flying ones going up or down the creek. The ones with any altitude crossing the creek will glide into the reeds quite often and that can mean hours of looking.


May 9, 2007, 02:45 PM
Hunting Waterfowl without a dog is possible but problematic. A good waterfowl dog is worth its weight in gold.You can loose the mark on a falling bird that dog sure won't. Forget finding wounded birds.
I do hunt grain fields for geese without dogs but that is dry land not over water.

May 9, 2007, 02:58 PM
The only place I would consider a dog as "optional" when hunting waterfowl would be geese on/over harvested corn/soybean fields.

May 9, 2007, 03:02 PM
A guy brought his duck dog a couple of years ago and let him go into the water when the tide was running out of the creek.

We had to take the skiff to get the birds and the dog.



May 9, 2007, 03:16 PM
I can see it now...

*friend in Kayak* BAM BAM BAM ... "IN-COOOMMMMIIIING"... SPLASH... SPLASH... THUD... "Oops"....

Well Doctor, It's a funny story actually....

Oh I don't know.... I've been shooting ducks out of kayaks most of my life. Including off shore in the Boston area with my bigger kayaks. You just have to learn to shoot sitting down. That, by the way, takes a bit of practice.

This one works real well in lakes or smaller rivers.

May 9, 2007, 04:57 PM
I've done it many times over still waters before. All it takes is a few buddies with you who understand the importance of spotting the ducks. The only time I ever lost a duck was when the buddy who was supposed to be spotting told me that the duck fell near "that large log over there". I live in central Louisiana, I'll give you three guesses as to what "that large log over there" was. I gave up on that duck, and that day's hunt. A 12-13 footer in that small of a pond could easily ruin your day.

May 9, 2007, 05:25 PM
Pretty cool stuff all around -

I would _love_ a dog, but it's just impossible now, my place is too small and I'm hardly ever at home, even if bathroom breaks weren't a problem I'd just feel bad having so little time. So that's why I asked.

As I said, too, the areas I'd been looking at were just swamp. I haven't walked into the middle of any of the murky areas, but I'd be surprised if the water was much over waist in all but a few places. That said, I would not be surprised to find the mud's 20 feet deep, so I had been thinking about water safety. It's all still water though, except for little beaver channels that you can hop from one side to the other - doubt I'd be shooting over those.

I'll have to head out with some waders ahead of time just to walk around and get a feel for the turf and feasibility of retrieval with just waders, and maybe look into a kayak if I think it's shootable but too difficult to get the birds afterwards with just waders. Thanks for the input to date!

May 9, 2007, 08:05 PM
I'll give you three guesses as to what "that large log over there" was. That was likely one of those logs that tastes so good on rice with some Louisiana sauce on it. :D

May 10, 2007, 07:33 AM
bclark - If you are wading, use neoprene waders (they provide a lot of bouyancy on their own) and a life jacket. Also, use a fairly long, sturdy stick to probe the area you are about to step on. It can help stabilize you and lets you know if the bottom drops off or gets too soft.

It may seem like overkill, but it's better to err on the side of caution.

Len S
May 10, 2007, 08:07 AM
As I was writing this I realized just how crazy (read stupid maybe) waterfowlers really are. I was writing that the only time I hunt without a dog is when the river gets icy and it is to dangerous for the dog. Then we walk out to get the birds. :( So it is too dangerous for the dog so but not for the hunters.:what: Well anyway if you choose not to use a dog it will be a good cardio workout esp in water.


May 10, 2007, 08:48 AM
What's the old saying, "About as smart as standing in a cold shower tearing up $100 bills."

Dumb and expensive.


Len S
May 10, 2007, 09:39 AM
I should be more carefull if I say it is crazy they will say we need to be hospitalized for our own saftey and take away our guns.
True story. I came home from a COLD hunting trip. My son was starting to have resp. problems, it used to be every time he got a cold he got a lung infection. I gave mim a duck call at age 4 he learned to blow it and cough better, no more infections, anyway we called his doc who said to take him to ER resp rate was up to 32 albuterol did not work( I am a paramedic) so off to the er me still in some of my hunting stuff. A doc i know from taking people to his ER asked me why I was dressed like that I explained. He asked what waterfowling entailed. I told him. He said I should be carefull talking about it because standing in a river with ice flows in 10 degree weather was grounds to be commited. He went with me the next day :)


uk roe hunter
May 10, 2007, 10:42 AM
I have sat on my marsh in weather so cold i thought i might die.... but i keep going back for more.

I have quite a strenous fitness regime..... for my dog. she goes from general retrieving work. to running beside the car for a mile or so, then plent of swimming then retrieving over marsh mud. By the time it comes to september 1st she has muscles like the guvnor of california! I shoot over the humber which is a big river with a heavy tidal flow, dogs get lost every year. i train mine hard and don't let her retrieve from really fast ebbing flows, she would end up in Denmark.

If any of you guys ever visit the uk PM me and i will take you on the marsh and we will do some wildfowling UK style.


Crazy Uncle Al Gore
May 10, 2007, 10:57 AM
I don't have a bird dog so I always wear swimming trunks under my camo. Retrieving the ducks yourself can be a challenge, but it's fun. That said, as soon as I can get a bird dog I will. Especially since I'm limited to hunting in warm weather.

May 10, 2007, 08:25 PM
For those who self-retrieve, how do you get all those feathers out of your mouth? :)

Len S
May 11, 2007, 11:43 AM
Lotsa floss


May 11, 2007, 12:34 PM
Hunting without a dog is like "do it yourself sex" vs a loving skilled female partner. Of course the bar/food bill is lower with option 1.

May 13, 2007, 01:59 AM
If hunting with a dog is like sex with a women, you're either doing your hunting or your lovemaking in a very unusal way.

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