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Old 05-31-2011, 10:37 AM   #1
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Beginners' Layout Hunting Guide

I have been layout hunting for 7 years and have never found a good written introduction or basic guide to layout hunting. The best thing I've seen is the MLB intro DVD, which is great and got me going, but I realized there were more issues that needed to be addressed. I decided last year to write an intro guidebook to layout hunting and posted the chapters up on this site for review and comment. I deliberately sat on everything until the 2010 season had passed so I could check my book against the realities of a recent season, and it seems to be holding true.

I don’t pretend to be an expert, or that what I present is the only way or the best way. There are lots of ways to do any and all of the pieces outlined here. But this is a starting point for people wanting to get into this sport within a sport.

So, here is a "guidebook", free of charge, free to share, free to comment on as a resource for everyone who layout hunts or is thinking about getting into it. If there are glaring issues or omissions, please let me know.

The guidebook has chapters on the following. Any of these is worthy of a book dedicated to that topic, but this is a starting point:
2-Longline rigging
3-Longline & layout placement
4-Layout boat rigging
5-Hunting out of layout
6-Sea ducking
7-Tender considerations
9-Setting up at Night
10-Boat driving
11-Safety issues
12-Where to go
13-Reality check
14-Sources for more info

Many thanks to the people who helped with the initial chapters and those who let me use photos to illustrate specific items (mainly Capt Jeff Coats).

You can find the online version here and download it if you'd like:
"We need a duck hunting version of BUD/S"
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Old 05-31-2011, 12:04 PM   #2
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Thanks for the info. This upcoming season will be the my first experience with a true layout. I am in the process of building a two man as I type. Your info is greatly appreciated and I sure will help me out.

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Old 05-31-2011, 12:18 PM   #3
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Thank you.
I am downloading it right now.
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Old 05-31-2011, 12:24 PM   #4
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Excellent job!
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:42 PM   #5
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nice job. Very informative for those getting started. I plan on making sure my buddy takes a look at this.
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Old 06-01-2011, 06:26 AM   #6
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Very Nice, I think a link to that document should be a sticky
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:03 AM   #7
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:14 PM   #8
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Good stuff man
Hey Ladies, Show us your "Eiders"

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Old 06-02-2011, 07:12 AM   #9
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Thanks!! Don't know if I'll be able to do it much, but enjoy the info.
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:27 AM   #10
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Good job Sir,,,,,enjoyed that,,,very informative
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:39 AM   #11
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Very nice!!!
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:12 AM   #12
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Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

About the AWSC: Formed in 1985, the American Water Spaniel Club, Inc. is the AKC recognized Parent Club of the AWS. It is also the only club recognized by the AKC as a Specialty Club for the AWS. Learn more at
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Old 06-16-2011, 09:36 PM   #13
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Great write-up. Especially the safety tips. I'm going to update my life jackets with whistles & strobes before the season this year.

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Old 07-04-2011, 06:38 AM   #14
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Goldy or Baydog - did you guys want to sticky this to the top?
"We need a duck hunting version of BUD/S"
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:25 PM   #15
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Just read through it. Good job!
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Old 07-06-2011, 10:41 AM   #16
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Great info! Thanks!
Lead me not into Temptation. . . . OH Hell,, Follow me, I know a SHORT CUT.
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Old 07-22-2011, 06:51 PM   #17
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Thanks for the info.

Great Stuff!!!!:
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:42 PM   #18
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Wink Hartz-version of this guidance


“The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. The first version was adopted in 1914, in response to the Titanic disaster, the second in 1929, the third in 1948 and the fourth in 1960.”

This is the convention that dictates basic equipment and actions that will be deployed during navigation, boarding a watecraft, etc…I have adopted this idea for layout hunting.

Basic Equipment List

Tender Boat
Lifejacket aboard for each person Paddle
Flares VHF Radio
Fire extinguisher Cell phone
Horn Manual bilge pump
Anchor w/line Small tool set
Emergency phone number card EPIRB ( The ultimate mayday call)

Layout Boat
Two (2) anchors with line Two cushions or PFD’s
VHF Radio Flares
Cell phone Sponge,cup,pump??

Layout Hunting 101 and more

The act of hunting layout hunt is by definition dangerous. In order to keep things as safe as possible I offer this refresher for newbies and veterans alike. If we layout hunt together this season I expect that you will have read the following more than once and are familiar with it. You never know when your role as guest may change to lifesaver, pay attention…

We set the boat with two anchors one anchor off the back, where the wind comes over the back of the boat, and one off the front to keep the boat from yawing back and forth. The rear anchor is the one bearing the weight of the boat. These lines angle down into the water to the anchor and due to this they are very susceptible of getting caught in the tender propeller. The decoys will then be deployed on the motherlines parallel to the layout boat. A large approach area for the tender will be left on the right side of the layout boat, as we approach it, into the wind, one person in the tender will grasp the inside cockpit edge of the layout, WITH BOTH HANDS, and hold on to the layout. At this point you will likely be on your knees in the tender for increased leverage. The importance of having both hands on the layout at this point is critical and cannot be stressed enough. One hand on the layout and this is what happens…the tender boat will pivot on your one hand in the wind and all of sudden you scream can’t hold on cause the broadside of the tender boat is caught in the wind and now it’s too late for two hands. If you’re the approach person, two hands always. One person holds onto the layout boat while another gently puts one foot in the layout boat and then swings the other in and sit’s down immediately. Someone else will hand you the items you have ALREADY set aside for use in the layout. Now is not the time for searching your backpack for shells, cig’s, gloves etc…put it in your pocket before we approach if you want it. There is little room in the layout for blind bags and the like. When we raft off the layout we want to spend as little time there as possible. Guns go in the layout cased. Empty cases go behind the backrest. Once in the layout get comfortable, your boots should go just to the end of the bottom board when laying down. Get the guns out, DO NOT load until the tender is out of range. Load up and lay down. Your gun lays on the outside of the boat. I put mine so that the butt of the stock is up at about my chest. Guns rested on the inside of the boat could shoot a foot and puts holes in the boat. Your eyes should be about water level, don’t be afraid to LAY down, get low. Work the birds, when the birds land or fly within the decoys, they are plenty close enough to be shooting at, you’ll know when. When you have shot a bird radio the tender and then if conditions will allow, talk the tender into the downed bird, tell us if it is crippled or dead. If the wind is blowing or whatever, point with whole arm where the bird went down. Whenever the tender boat approachs the layout for a person exchange all guns should be empty, ALWAYS. On the layout will be a VHF marine radio, flares and one of the hunters should have a cell phone.

Tending to the Layout
The only job of the tending crew is the safety of the layout. The lives of the layout hunters literally rests with the tending crew. Conditions can change rapidly and the tender must be able to respond. The tender will be moored off a buoy that is attached to the anchor, look for the buoy and there will be a clip that is clipped to the bow eyelet. Grab the anchor line with the hook, leaning out over the gunwale of the boat leads to falling out of the boat, use the hook. Now just watch the layout. The layout should always be approached from downwind so that the tender is running into the wind. The side of the tender that is open, the opposite side of the helm station, will be layed up against the boat. Tender crew grabs the layout with TWO HANDS and the swap begins.

If you come hunting with us I expect that you have read this document and are thoroughly familiar with it. I understand that you may be along as a guest but one never knows when due to unforseen circumstances roles change and all of sudden the “guest” becomes the only person who can save someone or every one. The most critical items to remember are as follows:

• When coming to the layout, two hands must be used at all times while swapping hunters.
• The VHF radio emergency channel is 16, call “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY” duck hunters in trouble and give approximate location, wait for the US Coast Guard to respond.
• If you are uncomfortable hunting in the current conditions, SAY SOMETHING. I do not want to read the fear in your face.
• Be very cognizant of the gun safety. The layout is tight, get comfortable and be safe.
• If you have questions ask, I can’t read your mind. We all asked the same questions at some point.
Above all listen and instantly comply with orders of the captain. If the business hits the fan I do not have time to explain things, just do it.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:08 AM   #19
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This is great stuff! Good Job guy's!
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:50 AM   #20
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How long should those bridles be? They look like they are about 4 feet?
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