Shallow-water anchors work wonders
for waterfowl hunting
Although it rarely shares the limelight with dogs, calls, shells and shotguns, a duck boat is one of your most important pieces of waterfowl hunting gear.
Further, being able to reliably and efficiently control your hunting platform is arguably one of the biggest keys to safe and successful days on the water.
Over the years, enterprising hunters have used a variety of methods to position their boats when setting dekes or hunkering down, including paddles, poles, oars and traditional anchoring systems.
All have their merits, but today’s waterfowlers have a new ally in the never-ending battle for boat control, the shallow-water anchor.
Mounted on the stern, shallow-water anchors like the Minn Kota Talon quickly deploy a spike to pin the boat securely in place. When it’s time to move, they retract in seconds, allowing you to retrieve downed birds, adjust your decoys or move to another spot in a heartbeat.
Clad in Realtree MAX-5 camouflage, one of the most popular waterfowl patterns on the market, Talons also blend perfectly with blind material and marshy backgrounds alike.
Another plus, Talon powerheads can be quickly and easily tilted down when not in use, engendering easy boat storage or passage through low-clearance areas.
“Shallow-water anchors offer a number of benefits in terms of safety and convenience that flat-out make us more efficient hunters,” says well-traveled waterfowler Scott Glorvigen.
Each fall, he reaps the benefits firsthand while pursuing ducks and geese on northern natural lakes and prairie potholes across the Upper Midwest with his equally hard-hunting twin brother Marty.
“On the safety front, a shallow-water anchor increases stability, which is a godsend whether you’re standing up to shoot or moving around in the boat,” says Marty. “Plus, we’ve found it makes it easier for our hunting dogs to access the dog ladder, since the boat isn’t rocking around.”
Needless to say, having a stable shooting platform can boost your downrange accuracy as well.
“You don’t have to worry about the boat drifting away while you’re wading to pick up decoys or downed birds, either,” says Scott. “This can be an absolute life-saver when you’re waist deep in a reed bed half a mile from shore.”
Safety aside, the ability to quickly and securely set up shop in five to eight feet of water or more is a huge plus.
“A lot of times when you pop up a blind, the material acts like a sail and the boat wants to drift out of the rushes, especially on big water with a stiff breeze,” he says. “With a shallow-water anchor, you stay put.”
“Sheer convenience is another big benefit to having a shallow-water anchor,” Marty notes. “They’re so much faster and easier to deploy than traditional anchors, you start using them all the time.”
Take setting decoys, for example.
The brothers often Talon down, throw out a few dekes, then raise the spike and drift a short distance before repeating the process. “Do this a few times and you end up with an extremely natural formation of decoys lined up into the wind,” Scott explains.
Likewise, they reverse the process when retrieving the blocks. “It’s so much easier because the boat isn’t spinning around and you’re not fighting the wind,” he adds. “Just lower the spike and use a gaff to scoop up the decoys within reach, then reposition and repeat until they’re all in the boat.”
The Glorvigens also use shallow-water anchors when scouting potential hunting spots. “When you first roll into an area early in the morning, it’s easier to evaluate where to put the boat and set decoys from a stable position compared to when you’re drifting around,” says Scott.
“Shallow-water anchors are also a blessing when docking, loading and unloading,” says Marty. “No more fiddling around with ropes or bumper buoys. Just nose up to the dock or beach, drop the spike, and the boat won’t go anywhere.”
It’s worth noting that such secure docking also eliminates the risk of rubbing the boat against nails, rocks and other sharp objects.
“They’re extremely easy to use, too,” adds Marty. “Installation on flat-transom hulls is a snap, with no mounting brackets or complicated wiring required.
“Operation is just as simple,” he continues. “There’s a pair of push-buttons right on the unit. Plus, you can use a wireless Talon Remote to raise and lower the spike from anywhere in the boat, or even while wading nearby.”
More good news, there are shallow-water anchors for virtually every duck boat. For example, low-vis camo Minn Kota Talons come in 10- and 12-foot spike options. Both sport a quick and quiet three-stage deployment system that offers a trio of distinct anchoring options: Soft Bottom, Auto-Drive and Rough Water.
When setting up on mucky substrate, Soft Bottom mode tones down anchoring force and only taps bottom once, to prevent the spike from plunging too deeply into the goo. Auto-Drive taps three times with increasing force to gain a foothold. And in choppy seas, Rough Water mode performs three Auto-Drive sequences to maintain its grip on bottom.
Given their experiences with Minn Kota Talons across the Midwest, the Glorvigens guarantee these modern marvels are a great investment in waterfowling safety and efficiency.
“Whether you’re chasing divers on big water or hunkering down in cattails waiting for the next flock of mallards to show up, shallow-water anchors are great pieces of equipment to have aboard,” says Scott.