Interior design was a big factor too. Maybe the most dangerous thing I have ever done is run up and down a big river in the dark when the temperatures were below freezing. If you get wet, things are going to go downhill quickly. I wanted to design a cabin that I could see out of while driving. Having hunters in the sight line and dogs roaming all over the place while under way is not good, yet most boats are not designed with any of these things in mind. I placed three pedestal mounts on the floor where I could maximize both room and more importantly weight so that the boat would still handle well. A dog “place” was designed for riding and hunting. The design makes life easy on the dog and the trainer because they are one in the same. The stand simply “slides up” into place when you are ready to hunt and locks into place with a single locking pin. The stand also gives the dog a great perspective to mark birds and more importantly a place for the dog to safely ride while the boat is under power.
Because you find ducks wherever they are, you need to be able to hunt out of the boat and you can’t do that from the deck. So, I decided to put an eight-foot gun box right down the middle of the boat. This box has enough room to allow every hunter a seat. By placing seat mounts every 24 inches, there is room for every hunter and by placing the box in the middle of the boat, you can hunt from either side. I also wanted to create some conveniences like two DC power plugs in the back for both spotlights and GPS units and one up front for an additional light when debris gets especially dangerous because of rising water or ice. I also wanted a place for a grill and cooler. That was no problem as long as you think about it early. The deck provides tons of dry storage for larger items like life jackets and a driver pod was created, and the storage is pretty good. Finally the front deck was designed to hold four 12-Slot Avery® decoy bags. This keeps them out of the way so riders can stay dry and keep their feet free. The 12-Slots also ride lower than a bulk decoys bag so the sight line is still very good. Everything has its place.
I knew what I had to have on the inside and to comfortably handle everything, I knew I needed a good-sized boat. The minimum I could get away with would be an 18-foot by 54-inc model. Now, it was time to worry because that was a big boat for a 36hp mud motor and I was not willing to live with something underpowered.
I worked with Pro-Drive’s K.P. and Brian Provost in designing this boat to try and maximize speed and shallow water running capability. We sharpened the bow to cut rushes, reeds, cattails, and most importantly timber. We created square chines to make it run as shallow as possible and by staying at 54-inches wide, we were able to use a single piece of aluminum and create a seamless bottom. With the rocky rivers I knew I was going to hunt, I wanted to build something tough. K.P. Provost has spent a lifetime building off shore crew boats and understands durability and how to build it. His suggestion to go with 50/86-aluminum hardness should keep the boat good for years and years, not to mention, keep me alive.
I went with an Avery® Quick-Set® Boat Blind for a few reasons; the main reason I did this was because Avery’s blind rests inside the gun whales of the boat which keeps it from hanging on every tree, limb, or bunch of reeds you run along side. The colors are easily changed with KillerWeed™ to go from a dark timber setting to a very light cattail setting in 15 minutes. Last but not least, I went with Mossy Oak® Duck Blind® as a camouflage pattern purely for its versatility. This pattern is not the best timber pattern, nor is it the best marsh pattern, but it’s pretty good at all of it.
Here are some numbers for your review. All numbers include the boat loaded with all necessary hunting gear, twelve gallons of gas, battery, etc. With any kind of momentum, the boat runs extremely well in almost no water with soft mud even with the heaviest of loads. The reverse has been used extensively and works very well, especially when you need to get out of something that you thought you could do. That happens regularly around here. I have not hunted from the boat yet; but have used it extensively (about 14 hours) learning what it will do and what it won’t.
- Driver (230 lbs) and dog (75 lbs) 31 mph
- Driver, dog and passenger (220 lbs) 27 mph
- Driver, dog and 2 passenger (220 & 225 lbs) 22 mph
- Driver, dog and 3 passengers (220, 225, 210 lbs) 19 mph
I doubt it’s the perfect duck boat; but it’s definitely better than what I had before. The versatility of being able to use the same boat on rivers, marshes, and timber is something I’ve never experienced.
So far I couldn’t be happier.