My experience hunting ducks from boats has been limited, but significant.
If you’re a fisherman and a hunter, boats are a necessity. I’ve owned more than a half-dozen of them.
About thirteen years ago, I purchased a used Boston Whaler – 13 1/2 footer. Until recently, it has sat next to Mayberry Slough and served as a ride for an occasional fishing trip, but this year I began to think of it as a potential duck hunting platform.
About twenty-five years ago, I owned a similar Boston Whaler and somebody stole it from me. I was bummed out, so when I spotted this similar boat sitting on the ground in a neighborhood yard, I stopped and asked if it was for sale. I was surprised when the owner said yes and accepted my offer of $350.
After thirteen years, I finally trailered the boat and brought it home for a repair and paint job. A search via the internet lead me to several possible blind options. After reading reviews and using gut instincts, I selected the Northern Flight Boat Blind and purchased the bare frame from Cabela’s for about $400. From a local supplier, I purchased some natural looking camo grass that blends in with the tules and cattail at Mayberry.
Yesterday, with the blind complete, I launched the boat at Mayberry and took the boat out for a test. I was impressed. The whaler, powered by a 9.9 hp mercury outboard, powered me and the boat accompanied by Lola and a half-dozen goose decoys into the Mayberry marsh. We didn’t shove off until about 9:30 AM and it was a clear day with not a great prospect for bagging a duck, but I figured to take a few photos and maybe get lucky.
After setting up in an untested spot and putting out the decoys, I raised the two sides of the blind, opened my folding chair, loaded the shotgun and waited.
I could occasionally see mallards working in a nearby pond and called to them without success.
After a half hour or so, I heard geese honking and spotted five Canada geese heading in my direction. I called a couple times and it looked like we would have action, but they passed by just out of range. I don’t think they saw the boat, but I could be wrong.
I while later, I was beginning to become bored as none of the mallards were responding to my calling and nothing interesting, other than a family of five river otters, came close to the boat.
Then three mallards appeared to the south of me about 200 yards away. I called and they turned directly towards me. One of them zeroed in on the boat and soon after, I raised the twelve gauge and dropped him.
The retrieve was a bit of a fiasco, but Lola chased him out of the cattail and I finished him off. I’ve got to do some work on the retrieving process as getting Lola back into the boat was injury threatening to both Lola and I, but we got it done.
Fired up I hunted for another hour without success, but the ice has been broken and I’m ready for another adventure.
There were definite advantaged to hunting from the boat. It was comfortable for both Lola and I. Not standing in crotch deep water was much warmer and standing three feet taller made observation of nearby waterfowl much more effective.
Other advantages are that I can sit in a comfortable chair, take photographs without fearing for ruining my camera and I can take along a cooler and even a radio for boring moments.
Here are a few photos of the boat. I brought it home for a few tweaks, but generally I’m quite satisfied with the Northern Flight Boat Blind.
The blind matches some of the tules, but could use a touch-up. I can do that with paint and by collecting some nearby material.
Here’s photos of the construction process.
The frame takes a few hours to assemble, I worked slow and mostly by myself. With a partner it would go much faster.
I’m optimistic that I’ll have some fun with this boat blind. It probably won’t increase the number of ducks I bring home, at least not by many, but it will be a fun way to spend a couple of days of the remaining season. Is it worth the investment? That’s your call. If you enjoy projects and trying different approaches, it’s worthwhile. If it’s ducks you want, get up early and spend more time exploring seasonal marsh on cold, windy winter days.
For me it was an investment of about $700 and two full days of my time. The duck hunting has been slow, so figured I wasn’t missing much by spending the time on this side project. If the duck hunting had been red-hot, I probably wouldn’t have found the time to build the blind.