Beginners' Layout Hunting Guide


Global Moderator
Sep 9, 2000
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Phelps,New York (Heart of the Finger Lakes)


Senior Refuge Member
Oct 29, 2006
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No-Ducks, TN
Great write-up. Especially the safety tips. I'm going to update my life jackets with whistles & strobes before the season this year.



Senior Refuge Member
Mar 17, 2003
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Charlotte NC
Goldy or Baydog - did you guys want to sticky this to the top?


Elite Refuge Member
Feb 20, 2001
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Great info! Thanks!

Andy Hartz

Senior Refuge Member
Aug 22, 2002
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SE Michigan/Lake St. Clair

?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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