View Full Version : Deer hunting from a float tube?

March 26, 2007, 08:25 AM
There's a lot of water where I hunt most, at least in non-drought years. Yesterday while moving almost silently through the water on a raft, it occurred to me that with a float tube and push-pedals, I could move: (a) completely silently, and (b) completely movement free from my legs, which would be underwater. Yes, I'd be moving slowly along, but legs hidden. The creek winds through most of the land, and deer have to come to water, esp. in early season. Seems like a good way to still hunt. Moving (combined with insulated waders) would help keep you warm. Deer would have to take a second look before deciding you're not a duck or stump. It would be a VERY comfy method of hunting, relative to a tree stand, etc. Won't work for bow, but with ML or rifle, it'd be infinitely quieter than crunching through the leaves. Anyone ever done this?

March 26, 2007, 08:47 AM
Sounds like a great idea to me. Noi idea of you area but if you shot one on the far side of a lake might make for a long drag.
I have often thought of drifting down the river here. problems are kinda swift current, snags etc, and the water is so cold by Oct.

March 26, 2007, 10:57 AM
OK, but what do you do if you actually get one? I have hunted from canoes and boats before, and it is a great way to move silently through an area and get close to game. Hauling a 150 lbs deer out in a canoe can be challenging, so how are you going to haul one out with a float tube?

March 26, 2007, 11:43 AM
Hauling a 150 lbs deer out in a canoe can be challenging

One good thing is all the weight of the animal is in the bottom of the canoe, helping balance plenty..
I have taken deer and one elk across a river with my canoe. With two guys the deer was easy but we had calm water.

The elk was a different story. It was the South Fork of the Payette River and kayakers Paradise. Lucky it was straight down the mountain to a calmer area of the water. And buy cutting the elk in half we were able to make it across in two trips. You wore Life jackets for durn sure as the water was just 3 or 4 inches from the gunwale of the canoe. Low enough it was a concern with two guys and half a elk inside. Then we had to drag it hundreds of feet till with a couple of ropes and the winch I was able to hoist the half a elk at a time up the hillside.

Took two days to get that animal home. It was shot one day about noon and was close to dusk by the time we had it down to the river. So we layed it on its back with sticks to hold the ribs open for the cold air to help keep it cool, cover with driftwood and my shirt to try and help keep critters at bay. It was afternoon the next day by the time we got home.

Did this several years back with my Dad and it is a memory I will never forget.

March 26, 2007, 11:46 AM
I read a great article on still hunting a few months ago. One of the methods discussed was using waterways to move silently through the woods, and with out leaving as much of your own sent behind.

I don't know if I'd like sitting on a float tube all day. Movement is too restricted, and simple tasks such as taking a whiz would be a pain. I'm assuming you mean a product like those waders with a big tube that lets you float while fishing.

A good alternative might be a stationary float with a ground blind on top. Find where the deer come to cross or drink and place a guide line from one shore to the other. Feed that line through some PVC attached to the railing of the float so you can pull yourself out to the middle and back. The only thing I'd worry about at that point is falling asleep to the lulling sounds and motions of the water. :)

Wild Bill Bucks
March 26, 2007, 11:51 AM
Kids Beach ball, inside the gut cavity, and held inside by wrapping rope around carcass, will keep it afloat, and is easy to carry until needed.

If there is ANY current in the water, you might have a real problem, unless you are pretty strong kicker.

Brought one down coal creek like this once, but I was in a kiyak. It was pretty hard paddling, so I can't imagine how hard it would be to get one very far with a float tube.

March 26, 2007, 01:39 PM
I'd haul it back by getting out and draggin it over land as per normal (then crossing the creek by either carrying it, or if the water is too deep, putting it on the float tube to cross, with me hanging onto the side of the tube).

Taking a whiz could be a problem though. You'd have to go to the bank, and step on to land for a minute, then resume stalking. This is a deep and wide creek, so there is virtually no current.

WBB, if you do it that way, would you be concerned about microbes from the water getting into your deer cavity and contaminating the meat?

March 26, 2007, 04:27 PM
Deer hair is actually hollow and they float quite well. If you shoot one, you could tie a rope to it and just pull it behind you. Don't field-dress it 'till after you get it to the truck.

The creeks around here are much too shallow and I'd end up walking with the tube around my waist all day like a little kid at the pool. Dragging a dead deer across one sand bar after another would be a... drag.

I have still hunted using a creek as a trail because you can be nearly silent, the banks hide a lot of your movement and you don't leave much scent. If I had killed one, I would have just gotten out of the water and walked back to get a vehicle.

Wild Bill Bucks
March 27, 2007, 08:48 AM

I don't worry to much about the water around here, as most of the creeks wash out almost every spring. I wouldn't put one in a pond or hole of water that has been sitting very long though. Most of the meat that I cut off, doesn't come from the gut cavity anyway, but I am always careful not to cut meat from around areas that have been exposed, such as wound channels, or exposed gutting areas.

Hell, the way our city water has been here lately, my bath water looks like tea. I would probably be more worried about what I have to wash my deer in, than anything else.:D

March 27, 2007, 10:25 PM
years ago when I was a kid, and we used to canoe the river bottoms for bass and northerns, the deer in and near the water would let you drift right up to them......kinda the way they used to react to hunters in trees. But the deer have adapted and now realize that danger now comes from both trees and water and it's harder to get close to them in the canoe now. I use several small streams in the areas I hunt to assist me in stillhunting. With a good pair of waterproof boots and using the sound of moving water to drown the sound my footsteps and with the banks for cover... I can cover more ground much more easily and with less chances of being busted.

April 1, 2007, 12:26 AM
A big +1 to the beach ball. I have been using a bicycle tire pump to add air via a small incision between the ribs. The down side is that you must drag it to the river guts and all. Heavy. Not so the beach ball. You can "sew" it into the cavity using para cord between the ribs.

This is gonna work great! Thanks Wild Bill.

April 7, 2007, 08:28 PM
The answer is NO! It's not a good idea; not without a wetsuit, anyway. Water cold. Chest waders on. Lean back in tube. Water comes up over top of chest waders in back somehow. Not good. I was only fishing, but learned a lesson - ain't gonna work in cold weather. Liked to froze my rear off changing clothes in high wind @ 35 deg F about 8pm. With a wetsuit, should work fine.

April 7, 2007, 10:38 PM
I cant find my dang hunting manual but there has to be a law or something from shooting out of a boat. There is a law against everything these days. Heck you cant even smoke in bars here anymore.

April 8, 2007, 10:44 AM
Why not go find a cheap used Aluminum boat? They can be had rather inexpensively. Paint it kinda camo, get a real small out board if you want. Mine just has oars but I don't go distances. No motor no need to register and buy tags every year. I can throw it in the back if a pickup and hunt, or fish off the water. Much better than a float tube.
Even a small blow up raft would have advantages over a tube but they always seem to get water in the bottom one way or another.

April 8, 2007, 04:22 PM
Well the idea is that your legs are your propulsion, and they are under the water, and so you can move silently and without any movement, other than the smooth, very slow motion of your upper body itself, which can blend in very well, unlike the fast movement of working a paddle above the water. Now, as for using a trolling motor on a small boat, that would work pretty well, but you still have a much larger profile moving through the water.

April 8, 2007, 05:11 PM
I can't imagine having my legs dangling in ice cold water by choice (chest waders or not) for the hours that would likely be involved hunting from a float tube. Sounds like a great way to get hypothermia and you might not even realize you're in trouble until its too late.

A better solution is a 12-13 ft canoe, or one of those small boats used for duck blinds that you pole around. You do not want to get wet. I have been soaked to the bone trapping when it was 15 degrees out and you have to deal with it immediately. In my case, I booked it home which was about a 20 minute walk.

April 12, 2007, 10:49 AM
One small note: I would suppose you would want a rifle with as little recoil as possible for this application. Being not solidly seated and anchored but freely floating might make what is normally a bump or push to the shoulder into a sudden thrusting backwards. Also I think being immediately over the surface of the water will make the noise of the shot considerably louder because the surface would act like a wall containing and reflecting the blast along a plane very close to you. .243 may be the one for you here.

April 12, 2007, 11:26 AM
My buddies and I hunt ducks from a float tube all the time. We use a deer cart to get all our gear into the swamp (public land, no vehicles allowed) We hide among the tag-alders and put out just a few decoys. The bottom is too mucky and deep to just stand and the banks are too far away. I never considered using it in a creek to still-hunt but I think it would work great. We've also used a 16' canoe but it's too visible/hard to hide from the air.

I use Cabela's Ultimate hunting waders. I also wear polypro thermals, fleece wader pants, etc, etc.

April 13, 2007, 10:16 PM
I have hunted ducks in New England for a few years now in my 9.5 foot Kayak. I am an avid fisherman and I must say my Kayak is one of the best buys at about $250.00 I have ever made. I haven't thought about float hunting for deer though, maybe I will this year.