by Stuart Spitz
When it comes to duck hunting, the typical hunter doesn't think that much about transportation when they're on the water. They think about decoys, calls, where they're going to hunt, and how many birds they're going to get. The boat? It's a boat. It'll do just fine. Well, that's not necessarily true. What you should know and think about is the best duck hunting days usually come around during inclement weather: wind, rain, and yes, at times, snow. And when you're hunting a good waterway, you have to get there by boat… something stable, safe and easily concealable.
There are typically three different good choices out there as far as basic boat scenarios are concerned. And before we get going, let me say that I am well aware of single person rubber craft (which I have been in, sort of a real glorified inner tube) I'm sticking to group hunting and the use of multi-person boats. There is the 14 foot V bottom boat with a small motor; a flat bottomed jon boat from 10-16 feet long, or a wide bottomed canoe. What particular boat you choose depends on the body of water you're on, and your personal preference. They all work.
Now, what you will use depends on what you can afford and your hunting style. As I always write, again and again, most of us don't have the bucks to go real high-tech. So I'm going to make some suggestions that readily work, work well, and will save you a ton of money. I'm not at all knocking the "real fancy stuff", I wish I could afford it. But I can't, and so I've found other ways to get things done and I learned this all from other hunters. Don't forget hunters are a "band of brothers and sisters". We learn from each other and everyone benefits.
Let's assume you're buying a basic 14 foot V bottom boat. Typically the boat is silver when you get it – new or used. The silver color is like a beacon sticking out in the middle of any duck hunting waterway. You've got to make that boat stealthy. Now, you can buy camo colored boats, or indeed have a boat painted by a pro in camo. Be prepared to spend $500 to $800 or a lot more to get one of these camo boats, new or professionally painted. But why do that? Just because you don't have the money to buy "ready made," doesn't mean you can't have something that works really well.
Here's what you do: Buy cans of spray paint, flat colors only! Look for black, tan, brown, green, and olive drab to spray paint your boat. It'll take all of a couple of hours. If you don't have the acumen to do so, one of your friends or relatives will have done so in the past, or ask a waterfowl hunter in your area. Lots of hunters do this, and will generally be willing to give you a hand. It's not difficult! Then what I do is put in vertical lines and forms to simulate cattails, and then on the sides and seats, I take oak leaves, place them on the seats and the sides of the boat, "outline spray" them, and I have a natural background scenario that provides an illusion of leaves. The whole boat doesn't have to be painted. You want to "break up" the clarity of the silver body, and it does work.
What about an already brown, green tan or olive drab, jon boat or canoe? Same general thing. Spray paint vertical lines or "forms" in different flat colors. Do the leaf outline and you'll be good to go. And what I've said is just one scenario. Maybe you hunt in a different type of area, no big deal. You can spray paint forms of saw grass, high grass, or the look of the edge of heavily wooded areas with trees. Read up on it. Go to the internet, or talk to someone who's done it. And the cost? Twenty bucks or so, and that's it.
And what does this all do for you when you hunt? You've got a great stealth boat. Hunters will often put their boat whatever it is in water that is not too deep. The hunters will stand in the water behind it, using the boat as a perfect "table" for shells, guns and gear, concealing you and your boat perfectly. That quack or honk you hear is waterfowl coming in and giving you a perfect shot.
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