Monday, November 1, 2010

Getting back there with small boats

Article by Luke Clayton - from catfish

Luke Clayton
When I was a youngster, my uncle Jack built a wooden boat out of marine plywood. The little craft couldn’t have been more than 12 feet long. It was heavy, square nosed and difficult to paddle, but I loved fishing from it. It gave me and my parents access to those fishing spots that were previously impossible to reach.

My love for small boats began at an early age and to this day remains a passion. There is simply nothing as exhilarating as paddling a small boat back into remote areas where one seldom encounters another human.

A couple years ago, I discovered the NuCanoe. This little craft takes on the best attributes of the canoe and kayak, blending them into what I consider the best all around small craft available. My 12-foot model weighs a bit over 70 pounds and draws only an inch or so of water, making it idea for negotiation shallow water. With its pointed bow, it easily slices through standing weeds and vegetation growing in the shallows. I’ve used it to catch white and largemouth bass, crappie and catfish on the larger reservoirs, always paying close attention to safety and venturing out onto the open water only on calm days. With plenty of flotation built in, the NuCanoe floats even when filled with water. It’s good to know your boat will remain afloat should a mishap occur!

My little boat has taken me on float trips down the Brazos River and I use it regularly to access my backwater duck blinds. This past week, I used it to retrieve a wild hog I shot in some very remote country. The interior of the land I was hunting cannot be accessed by roads. In many places, it’s too thick for an ATV.

I was still hunting a stretch of oaks and the forest floor was covered in acorns. Hog sign was everywhere and I could even smell the porkers in the cool, moist morning air. I heard a hog squeal a few hundred yards back in the woods, and circled downwind and attempted to approach within shooting range. Larger hogs have a tenacity to whack smaller pigs around with their snouts and I’m sure it was one of the smaller hogs that squealed and gave away their location.

As I neared the stretch of woods where I expected to intercept the porkers, I noted they were feeding on the opposite side of one of the long sand pits on the property. I made mental note that this particular water body ran a good half mile, back in the direction of my truck. I slipped up to a brush line, got a good rest and picked out a fat, young sow.

My plan was to make some cured, smoked ham and this little hog was a likely candidate! My 50 caliber TC Bone Collector muzzleloader, loaded with 2 of the 50 caliber White Hots pellets by Legendary Powders boomed, sent the 225-Grain Shock Wave Sabot on its 80-yard journey to the hog. My pork was on the ground.

Before making the shot I had devised a plan for getting the meat out. Eighty pounds is a lot for this sixty-year-old hunter to drag well over a half mile through the brush. But it would be an easy job with my NuCanoe.

I hiked back to the truck and drove to the edge of the water, unloaded my little craft and made the 15-minute paddle back to the hog. Within a half hour, I had the porker field dressed and back at the truck. The paddle back, even with the added weight of the hog, seemed just as easy as paddling back with the craft unloaded with fresh pork. Weight doesn’t seem to make a big difference when paddling a well designed, shallow-draft boat.

Luke used his NuCanoe to paddle this good-eating wild hog back to civilization. photo by Luke Clayton

There are many reasons I love fishing, hunting and sight seeing from my small boat. I don’t have to wait at busy launch ramps to put my boat in the water. I supply the horsepower to propel my craft and don’t have to buy gasoline or worry about repairs on an expensive outboard.

Maybe the biggest benefit is the exercise I get paddling. I don’t make hard work out of it; one long, hard paddle stroke will push the boat about 15 feet. One can cover a lot of distance in a short period of time using this system and, without working up a sweat!

In preparation for duck season, I used the boat to access shoreline cattails which I loaded and used to brush up my duck blinds. By the time you’re reading this I will have used my NuCanoe several times to negotiate the shallow backwaters well before sunup to access these blinds. Stay tuned for a duck hunting article next!

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