Damon Bungard 08/11/2014 | Posted in Fishing, Internationalization, Realtree Kilroy, United States
By Damon Bungard
Kayak hunting is nothing new, in fact, hunting is what drove the development of kayaks in the first place. The word ‘kayak’ comes from the Inuit word ‘qajaq’, meaning ‘hunter’s boat’. Early kayaks were made of driftwood, bone, sealskin, and whale fat, and used to hunt seals, walrus, whales, fish, and as transportation along the coast.
Things have come a long way – bone and skin have been replaced by plastic, metal and nylon, but the heart of the kayak remains the same, and what made the kayak a key part of survival as a hunting tool in native cultures, still remains today.
In this article we’ll look at some of the key benefits kayaks offer as a hunting tool, and how they helped spawn the new Realtree Kilroy.
1) Sneaky Quiet. Hunters learn early on that in order to be successful, you need to be quiet. Game spooks easily, and the more you can blend into the environment and remain unheard and unseen, the more successful you’ll be.
The Realtree Kilroy is a sit-inside design, meaning no scuppers, so no chatter from the water splashing in them, and no snags on sticks or other debris in the water when accessing shallow areas, or dragging up and over obstacles like beaver dams or fallen logs.
The organizational benefits of sidewall storage create a place for ammo, calls, tackle, binoculars, whatever you may need quickly and within reach, without having to fumble around for it and make a lot of movement or noise, and without risk of it falling overboard when the action starts.
2) Portability. The best hunting and fishing is where there are game and fish. That might seem obvious, but people waste a lot of time hunting or fishing where the odds of success are low, because the quarry is few and far between, or so pressured that they are constantly on high alert, or only moving at night.
One of the best ways to combat that and increase your odds is getting to the hard to get to areas, and kayaks excel at that. Motorized duck boats with elaborate blind systems are great, but they are also big and loud, you can’t drive them over beaver dams, or in shallow areas. Kayaks access these areas without a problem. This benefit is becoming more and more obvious, and many hunters and fisherman are even making kayak carriers on their larger boats to get them to near their hunting or fishing location, then accessing the final leg to the honey hole in the kayak.
Fixed position blinds can be very effective, but they take time to build, and if the game stops coming to them, all the effort is wasted. Kayaks can be easily shifted to always be right on the prime spots.
Pressured animals, and older trophy ones, avoid the main travel routes, and tend to move into the thick, gnarly, hard to access places where they’re left alone by hunters. Use a kayak to access these places, and your odds of success increase, while your odds of seeing other hunters goes way down.
The Realtree Kilroy’s low weight and smooth hull make it easy to paddle through debris, drag over obstacles, and put you on a prime patch of real estate.
3) Concealment. It doesn’t matter how quiet you are, and even if you’re in the best hunting spot in the world, if your quarry sees you before you see them, game over. The best hunts are all about getting close to game, and that means being invisible.
The Realtree Kilroy has the concealment factor covered with a complete Realtree Max-5 camouflage system, made primarily for waterfowl hunters, but also effective for big game. The system includes a soft cockpit cover with a huge storage pocket, a removable seat cover, a decoy bag behind the seat that also acts like a cockpit cover, and a complete fitted blind system that stores in the soft cockpit cover when not in use.
With your body covered, these components provide complete coverage and concealment in a lightweight, functional package, while still allowing you access to items you may need quickly during the hunt.
The soft cockpit cover can still be accessed with the blind installed by opening a large zippered panel, and is a great place to store extra ammo and calls. Bungee on top of it can be used to secure any natural vegetation, should you choose to do so.
The removable seat cover was designed to offer concealment of our Elite Seat system while out of the kayak, and protect it from mud, dirty paws, etc.
The decoy bag attaches behind the seat with a cinch-opening Max-5 panel on top, but open mesh underneath. While on the water, it’s easy to twist around, looses the cinch, reach in and deploy decoys. Once collected after the hunt, the open mesh lets them drain and dry. The bag also has a shoulder sling, so if you want to get out of the kayak and deploy decoys on foot, it’s easy to bring them all along. The decoy bag also makes a great storage bag at home in the garage, so you can keep all of the components together to dry, stored in one place, ready to go quickly on your next hunt.
The fitted blind system completely covers the entire Realtree Kilroy, while providing zippered access to the front and rear cockpit covers, and openings for the built in YakAttack gear tracks on the Kilroy. It’s cut to ride right at water line, so you can still paddle with it on, without it creating a lot of drag, or snagging on debris in the water. Once folded up, it can store in the front cockpit cover, or the decoy bag, or in stern via the hatched bulkhead.
4) Comfort. Good hunters are patient hunters. Hunting is often described as long periods of boredom broken up by a few seconds of adrenaline. The longer you can hunt, the more successful you will be. That means being comfortable when sitting still for long periods, often in cold and wet conditions.
The Elite Seat system in the Kilroy provides recliner like comfort during the long sits, both while paddling and sitting still. It can be quickly and easily removed and used as a chair in constructed blind on shore, or you can recline it while in the Realtree Kilroy, effectively turning the kayak into a floating layout blind, or you can drag it into a corn field as a layout blind there too.
The new self-inflating lumbar pad system from Therm-a-rest, adds to the comfort by creating adjustable lumbar support. It’s also removable, and great to use in the truck on the drive as well.
Standing in cold water all day gets old too, and is something waterfowl hunters know all too well. With the stability of the Kilroy making it easy to shoot while either seated or standing, there’s no need to stand in the cold water all day. Just relax in the seat, high and dry.
5) Versatility. The Realtree Kilroy isn’t just a hunting platform, it’s a highly versatile sporting platform. It can be used for various style of hunting, from classic decoy based waterfowl ambush hunting, to downriver jump shooting. It can be used to access hard to reach areas for bigger game such as deer and hogs, with enough capacity to get them out. It’s also a fully functional fishing platform, complete with all the RAM and YakAttack fishing accessories that come standard on the regular Kilroy.
There’s enough room to bring your four-legged hunting friend along, or you can choose to retrieve birds yourself by simply paddling to them. If you prefer longer, multi-day hunting forays, there’s enough storage for camping gear in the bow and stern.
If you enjoy filming your hunts, the standard YakAttack tracks offer great mounting options for GoPro’s or other cameras.
That’s a quick rundown of what makes the Realtree Kilroy such a great hunting partner. The pictures included are from both the standard Kilroy, and the new 2015 Realtree Kilroy version that is shipping to your local Jackson Kayak dealer now.
Fin, fur, or feathers, the Realtree Kilroy has you covered.
Thanks to Brian Hardy for many of these great images, and Ed Anderson at the No Business Lodge for helping make them happen.
About the Author, Damon Bungard:
With a kayak, fly rod, camera, bow, or gun in hand, exploring the rivers and mountains of the world keeps Damon on the move and in search of his next adventure. Growing up as a military dependent, travel and exploration is in his DNA. Damon has traveled from Chile to the ends of North America in search of the next rapid to run, river to explore, fish to catch, game to hunt, and memory to make.
As Product Manager for Jackson Kayak and Brand Manager for Orion Coolers, his passion for the outdoors translates directly into the products we offer. Damon, his wife Ashley, and mini-dachshund, Tripper, make their home base camp near our factory in Spencer, TN.