If you want to be successful Texas duck hunting, then you need to put in some scouting time. I let my “duck club” membership lapse because I wanted to get a little more adventurous with my Texas duck hunting. Instead of paying the duck club membership and hunt fees, I bought and fixed up a used john boat and purchased the public hunting permit along with my Texas hunting license. I’ve spent the last few months fixing up the boat, scouting different locations and learning a ton.
The New/Used Texas Duck Hunting Boat
I found a 14 foot used john boat on craigslist for about $400. It came with a little trolling motor and a trailer. It wasn’t registered and the trailer license plates had not been renewed. A little research on the internet led me in the right direction. The paperwork chasing to get the boat titled with the TPWD was an adventure but I finally got that cleared. The registration of the trailer with the county clerk was a little less complex but not much – it still required several trips. She doesn’t look like much in this picture from the original craigslist ad but she cleaned up nicely and I’m ready for some Texas duck hunting in the wild.
Scouting for Texas Duck Hunting with a Buddy
While the little trolling motor that came with the boat did work, it only had 20# of thrust and I was confident that it would not do much in the water. I’m working within a budget so I purchased a 12V battery, battery box and 50# trolling motor. I collected my Texas duck hunting buddy and went to scout a local lake that is rumored to be a decent duck hunting spot. We made it as far as we needed to on the one battery and trolling motor but it was a slow trip and if we’d had a head wind we would not have made it. So, lesson learned – trolling motors are for trolling.
Tasty Spot for Hunting Ducks in Texas
Our initial duck boat launch and scouting trip revealed some juicy duck hunting spots with plenty of sky clearance, open shallow water and cover. Texas has been in a drought this summer and all of the lakes and rivers are very very low. I’m not sure what the impact might be on the Texas duck hunting this year. The hatch was supposed to be very good and we are seeing some early ducks though.
A Bored Texas Duck Hunting Dog
My Texas duck hunting dog is a cross trained Brittany. Yeah, I know, but she tolerates it as long as I take her quail hunting occasionally. I launched the duck boat in a local river and loaded the dog to see how she’d react. After an initial burst of excitement at seeing a lot of birds but being unable to either point or retrieve them, she settled down into some doggy boredom and made a great duck hunting partner.
Shallow Water Rapids Vs A Trolling Motor
I still had the 50# trolling motor attempting to navigate a local river to do a little more scouting for my Texas duck hunting. Downstream was fine but I did have to get out several times to pull the boat because the water was too shallow – less than 3 inches deep in some spots. By the time the battery read 50% I figured it was time to turn around and go back up stream. Now, I’m a novice boater and I’ve since learned that the wiser choice is to go upstream FIRST and then downstream in case anything happens. Nothing happened but 50% battery usage downstream gets you much farther than 50% battery usage upstream. Simple math and another lesson learned. In addition to that, there were several shallow and narrow spots in the river where the current was just too strong for my trolling motor so I got my feet wet more than a few times. A good workout and valuable lesson – again.
A New Motor for My Texas Duck Hunting Boat
I finally decided that the trolling motor just wasn’t going to get me what I wanted. I’m not highly mechanical so buying a used motor from craigslist really wasn’t a good idea. I purchased a Honda 8HP motor from a local dealer for a reasonable price and put it on the john boat. The john boat has a short step and I was fortunate to find a dealer who was willing to educate me first and then sell me what I needed. It has to travel in a tilt position just to clear the ground from my shallow boat and short trailer. Nevertheless, that motor really pushes that little boat very very well and we can now get to places we previously couldn’t reach to do our Texas duck hunting.
Low Water Rapids in a Texas River
I’ve navigated the river a couple times with the new motor and my prop is no longer pristine. I have learned though, how to tilt adjust the motor so that I can make it through 90% of the low spots. The water authority is releasing very little water into the rivers so there are quite a few shallow spots that still require a wet portage – that’ s me getting out and pulling or pushing the boat. That said, we now have access to a much greater range on the river and I’ve found a number of nice little hidey-holes for Texas duck hunting that have wood ducks as well as some early migrants – ducks, not people.
Cross Trained Texas Duck Hunting Dog
The Texas duck hunting dog likes the motor much better. We cover more territory and see more birds and she likes that a lot. She also appreciates the occasional opportunity to get out and scout a little herself along the banks.
A Siren for Texas Duck Hunting
I took my oldest daughter with me on the maiden voyage of the motor on a local big lake. Previously, with the trolling motor, we were limited to the creek inlet. Now, with a regular outboard motor, we have access to the entire lake and all of the duck spots there. We took a late evening cruise and my daughter enjoyed a ride up front. I like to say she’s my Texas duck hunting siren – both the beautiful kind and the loud kind.
Texas Duck Hunting Ponds
A little more scouting, both in person and via Google Earth, has led me to couple of river connected an filled lakes. The water is calm, broad and shallow so it seems to be an ideal location. It also provides almost 360 degrees of bank so that I can adjust depending on the wind direction. This is shaping up to be a great season. Get your Texas duck hunting scouting done now – season starts soon!
Summary of Scouting for Texas Duck Hunting
Wild hunting is definite different than club hunting. While there are plenty of lakes in the Austin, Texas area, most are privately owned and getting permission to hunt in Texas is tough. There is plenty of public hunting area but a boat is needed to scout it and access it effectively. A trolling motor is just that – for trolling. It works fine in the creek but not on rivers or for covering any larger area. An outboard motor dramatically increases your options for Texas duck hunting.