We all have that one buddy that somehow manages to get to the spots no one else can hunt. You see the photos of the birds he’s been laying the smack down on, but for whatever reason he’s also the guy that only hunts with the same one or two people all the time. There’s a reason, he owns a duck boat.
People that own a duck hunting boat know what I’m talking about. People that don’t can only imagine. Just like the guys that have access to private fields, duck clubs and farm ponds, being the dude that has the capable boat during the season is literally like being Arnold Palmer in a municipal par three golf tournament.
So what happens if you’re the guy that always tags along and suddenly finds yourself without a seat in the boat? That leaves you with two choices, don’t hunt that type of area or be the new guy to the boat game. Honestly, option one isn’t really an option, but we needed something to say to intro into how to decide what type of boat fits your needs. Running my side business, Yoder Boats, it has given me a first hand, up close look at what people go through when looking for a boat for hunting and/or fishing.
There are a multitude of different options out there. They also range greatly in cost as well. You will ALWAYS find the guys that just decided to buy exactly what they want. If you have the ability to do this then we’re all for it! Tracker, Havoc, Gatortail, Excel, etc all have great options for the guy who would rather spend less time working on their boat and more time doing other tasks. The best thing about these types of setups is you can custom order the boats to your liking. Everything from navtronics and fish finders, lighting, stereos, grab bars, tops, live wells/coolers, seats, blinds and interior design all to your choosing.
A lot offer optional camo paint jobs in a variety of patterns and color schemes. These boats typically come with a few choices for motors. They range from outboard prop, outboard jets up to the holy grail, a shallow water surface drive. Sounds great right? We think so! The only thing we don’t like is the price tag that comes along with these built-to-order beasts. Boats like this typically ring in around the $25k and UP price range. The big money comes when you are trying to make this a multi season boat and equip it for summer time fishing and fun too!
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t want to refinance the farm to afford a duck boat then you’re likely going to find yourself a used rig. There is absolutely nothing wrong with looking for a used boat. There are actually a lot of positives to this. One, the depreciation has already come out of the unit. It’s likely going to be a boat that’s 5-10 years old in MOST cases but sometimes you get lucky and find yourself a newish boat that just wasn’t a good fit for the person that originally bought it. This can be a great way to get a good boat for half the cost of new that has almost all the items you are looking for.
Most of the time you will find that folks have already put their spin on what they thought was useful and added a few creature comforts. There is a downside to this though. The biggest one is that you may find yourself going back and reworking things to fit your needs. You may find yourself spending money to replace damaged parts and or potential damage to the hull. It’s important to think about these things when going this route if you aren’t a handy person or mechanically inclined as you may end up spending close to what you would have for a slightly lesser boat, NEW. One of the biggest issues that I have found when talking to clients while running my company, Yoder Boats, is that people, no matter how much they try, typically do less than satisfactory work. I find myself removing a lot of electrical items and rewiring boats left and right. This is one of my biggest requests from hunters and fisherman alike. Help me fix my electrical systems and make it clean and easy to understand and maintain!
If you build it they will come…
If you aren’t a handy person, or don’t have access to a company like Yoder Boats, option one is for you. That being said, our third option is the one we like the best! DIY this thing baby!
Deciding what type of hull and what type of motor you are going to use is the first thing you will need to do. Is this boat going to be a dual purpose boat for hunting and then fishing/family fun? Deciding the overall use for the boat is really going to help with the overall design you go with. Next, what type of water is this boat going to be in most of the time? Do you run rivers and shallows where the likelihood of you hitting things is pretty high? Do you run deeper water where you will likely never come into contact with something just shy of the water level? Knowing this information is KEY in deciding what type of motor you will outfit the boat with. If the shallows are the way then a Mudd Motor/Surface Drive setup from our friends over at EH Mechanical would be perfect! If you’re looking at deeper water a standard prop driven outboard will work great!
We recommend Mercury for all your outboard motor needs. This is what we outfit most on fishing boats at Yoder Boats. There is one more option though, be it the redheaded stepchild of the motor world. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds we would recommend looking into a factory Outboard Jet Motor. These motors are the best of both worlds in our opinion. They can go through the skinny water but have the range and efficiency of a normal outboard. The only real downside is that you lose hp with a jet. If it’s a 60hp motor it’s technically only a 40hp jet.
So now that you’ve got your motor and hull picked out, a design is a must. Figure out if you are looking for storage, seating, open floor plan, something utilitarian or comfort. For instance in my boat I went for an open floor plan. I wanted as much space for blind chairs, decoy bags, the dog and the most important part, the beer cooler as I could manage while still having a casting deck for the wife to tan on in the summer when I’m not slaying bass. The nice part about a front deck is once the decoys are set and the empty bags are stuffed under the front deck we have a nice 10ft open space to seat three hunters. This makes for a very comfortable hunt for three grown adults. Some of the guys that use their boats for fishing in the off season have chosen a few useful items like rod storage boxes for the sides, removable live wells for the center of the boat and even jump seating for that third or fourth passenger. This effectively makes your boat somewhat like a Lego set that you get to assemble each season or modify easily to fit your needs for that specific time of the year.
Building your own boat from an empty stripped out hull is rewarding once done but can be challenging at the same time. Things take time, plans don’t always work out and the ability to adapt is very important. My first boat build took me 8 months. I did this work on the nights and weekends as I had a normal “adult job” Monday to Friday and couldn’t work on it during the day. At the end of the day the route you choose is up to you, and the wife, but there is a boat for every person! No matter what you get if it floats, runs and guns during the season you will find yourself being the go to guy in the season when the birds have vacated all their normal areas and your new friends want to head out to the deep water to find big birds.
We have had a lot of requests as of lately to run some articles on building boats! I will have a new series of posts about the experience I had building my boat coming out in the future so make sure you subscribe and stay safe!
About The Author
A true hobbyist at heart, Dru is constantly consumed with the many joys of life! A native Pennsylvanian, transplanted to California in 2012 for a career in the automotive field, Dru has dove headfirst into the great California outdoors! When not chasing Waterfowl in the winter, or the various species of sport fish in the summer, Dru and his wife spend many days exploring the Sierra Nevada mountains and lakes.
In addition to the normal 9 to 5 job Dru is also the sole proprietor of Yoder Boats. Yoder Boats is a company that produces quality made customizable hunting and fishing boats for the North American outdoorsman. They specialize in boat customization geared toward the outdoorsman!
Dru resides with his wife and their energetic little Goldendoodle, Lilly in the Central Valley area in California.