While you snooze the morning away, waiting on that last greenhead to fill weighty straps of mallards, just remember who brought you here. The boat men of waterfowling are hard at work, developing hulls tough enough to take on the nastiest of submerged stumps.
And the motors? These juiced up engines rip across the marsh, making your favorite fishing boat motor seem more fit for a girly man.
The development of duck boats and engines has risen to a new level. Competition is spurring on some amazing products, new technology and brands, all aimed at getting you to the blind faster and safer. There are more custom rigs, packages that cater to specific hunting locales as opposed to the old production-grade, one-size-fits-all models.
The engines, like all things ‘Murican, are getting bigger, bulging at the seams with horsepower and unique features like full-thrust reverse and gear-driven outdrives. Some mud motors have gone the other route, getting smaller, lighter and less expensive for those solitary hunters who troll the backwaters in a one-man rig.
From skiffs designed for secluded marshes to big water sleds capable of tackling the Great Lakes and open ocean, today’s duck boats and the surface-drive engines powering them are something to behold.
<h2>Aqua Pod Explorer</h2>Designed for shallow draft with a low profile, the <a href="http://www.aquapodboats.com/products.php" target="_blank">Explorer</a> includes eight, 10- and 12-foot models constructed of a lightweight composite. The 12’ Explorer weighs just 62 pounds yet has a cargo capacity of 465 pounds. The Aqua Pod can be paddled or powered using a 2-hp outboard. It tracks like an arrow thanks to the molded-in keel and available in several colors, including a Mossy Oak non-glare finish that actually incorporates the camo material into the laminate. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,832-<strong>$</strong>2,171
- <h2>Aqua Pod Explorer</h2>Designed for shallow draft with a low profile, the <a href="http://www.aquapodboats.com/products.php" target="_blank">Explorer</a> includes eight, 10- and 12-foot models constructed of a lightweight composite. The 12’ Explorer weighs just 62 pounds yet has a cargo capacity of 465 pounds. The Aqua Pod can be paddled or powered using a 2-hp outboard. It tracks like an arrow thanks to the molded-in keel and available in several colors, including a Mossy Oak non-glare finish that actually incorporates the camo material into the laminate. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,832-<strong>$</strong>2,171
- <h2>Backwater Performance Systems</h2>The goal at <a href="http://www.backwaterperformancesystems.com/" target="_blank">BPS</a> is to help hunters tweak their mud motors to haul more gear and get there faster. Accomplished through an extensive offering of aftermarket parts, including carburetor kits, custom mufflers, high performance cams, pistons, piston rods, gasket sets, gear sets and Iron Mountain Heads, BPS has everything it takes to turn your mud motor into a mud monster. <p></p> <strong>$</strong>TBD
- <h2>Bankes 21 Goliath</h2>With a hull that stretches 21 feet, 6 inches, a beam of 90 inches and a 150-hp rating, the <a href="http://bankesboats.com/goliath.htm" target="_blank">Goliath</a> can hunt up to five well-fed duck men. The hand-laid fiberglass hull is reinforced at the bow with ice-splitting Kevlar. The interior and hull are molded and then fused together with fiberglass resin and foam-injected. No other boat manufacturer uses this ultra-strong technique. <p></p> A reverse tunnel chine (RTC) hull design provides a smooth and dry ride without the bone-jarring impacts of the big water. Fully-loaded, the Goliath only draws six to eight inches of water and features rack-and-pinion steering, a built-in 25-gallon fuel tank, decoy shelves and curtains, 2,000 gph bilge, navigation lights, interior lights, bilge blower and 12-volt accessory plug. A factory-designed blind made of 1,000 denier cordura nylon and aircraft aluminum supports are also part of this package. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>21,495
- <h2>Copperhead 18-HP</h2>Copperhead’s niche is lighter and faster. The <a href="http://www.copperheadmfg.com/products/18-hp-mud-motor" target="_blank">18-hp</a> is built on a rugged, but feathery aluminum frame. Powered by the Briggs Vanguard air-cooled engine, it is the lightest 18-hp mud motor in the industry at 135 pounds. <p></p> Standard features include electric key start, a manual trim/tilt wheel, squeeze throttle, four-bearing drive system (exclusive to Copperhead), grease fittings on all bearings and pivot points for long life. A stainless steel propeller and remote fuel tank are also part of the package. Made for 14- to 15-foot sleds, the 18 is capable of producing speeds up to 27 mph with two men on board. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>3,895
- <h2>Duck Logic</h2><a href="http://www.carstensindustries.com/duck-boats.html" target="_blank">Carstens</a> has been building layout and sneak-style boats for 40 years. Today’s models are all fiberglass, super lightweight and extremely durable. If you’re the type that dreams of a quiet day in the marsh, Duck Logic has your Carsten’s rig. From the 10-foot <a href="http://www.carstensindustries.com/puddler.html" target="_blank">Puddler</a> to the 14-foot <a href="http://www.carstensindustries.com/canvasback.html" target="_blank">Canvasback</a>, all Carstens’ products come complete with full flotation and incredible stability. Many of the boats can be equipped with motors, from a small electric to long-tails. Duck Logic offers six models, along with covers, blinds, seats and paddles. <p></p> <strong>$</strong>529 (starting)
- <h2>Excel Bull Nose Center Console</h2>Duck hunters and shallow-water fishermen were taken into consideration when <a href="http://www.excelboats.net" target="_blank">Excel</a> designed the new Bull Nose (named for its massive crash-resistant tubular bow). The 1860 is a welded aluminum hull built from .125-thick marine-grade alloy. This model also features an improved rake that allows for quick hole shots and top speed when the boat is loaded with guys and gear. The smooth bottom glides in the shallows, and the triple-taper chine allows this boat to turn on a dime. <p></p> An excellent option for tidal/mud flats, coastal plains, rivers and inland marshes, the Bull Nose is best paired with a surface-drive outboard like the Mud Buddy Sport V. Twin rod/gun boxes and under front deck storage come standard, and the 27-gallon livewell is ideal should you find a hot crappie hole. <p></p> <strong>Price: </strong>TBA
- <h2>Gator Trax Gator Hide Gen II</h2>A duck boat/blind combo, the <a href="http://www.gatortraxboats.com" target="_blank">Gen II</a> represents the company’s unique ability to create a variety of custom boat interiors to the customer’s specifications. Available in 16- (three man) and 18-foot (four man) models, the Gator Hide can also be configured with the optional Hybrid Rake that improves the boat’s capabilities to run in rough water. The options are many, allowing hunters to create a boat suited to their hunting preferences. <p></p> The hull is .125-thick 5086 alloy aluminum, tough enough to resist impacts with the murky bottom, stumps and other debris. The 5086 alloy is far tougher than typical 5052 used in most aluminum boat manufacturing. <p></p> Gator Trax hulls also feature a longitudinal rib structure that runs from transom to bow, providing strength and preventing the hull from denting under the force of impacts. Most boats feature cross-bracing that, over time, encourages dents or “hooking” of the hull, destroying the boat’s ability to perform under power. Soft or rounded chines allow the boat to slip off obstructions. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>10,370-<strong>$</strong>11,329
- <h2>Gator-Tail Extreme</h2>Hands down the company’s best selling models, the <a href="http://www.gator-tail.com/boats-extreme.html" target="_blank">Extreme series</a> are available in 16-, 17-, 18- and 20-foot lengths with a 54- or 60-inch bottom. The .125 5086 aluminum alloy hulls and .100 aluminum on the decks are built to withstand tough backwaters. A 2’’x2’’ longitudinal rib system runs the entire length of the boat for superior strength. Special features include the Extreme Bottom Crimp on the chine for “best in class” turning and maneuverability. <p></p> A drop deck/set back plate for engine mounting, 48-inch front deck with pedestal seat base, trolling motor mount and storage hatch are all available. An insulated cooler that doubles as a seat, angled transom for push poling, stand-up grab bar and aluminum floor attached with stainless steel rivets are optional. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>5,630-<strong>$</strong>8,600
- <h2>Gator-Tail GTR 35L</h2>The original belt-driven surface-drive outboard, the <a href="http://www.gator-tail.com/motors.html" target="_blank">GTR 35L</a> is built around a 993cc Big Block CDI 35-hp Vanguard, which includes a 2,000-hour electric clutch, Planetary reverse transmission (rated for up to 250-hp), 5,000-pound power trim actuator, heavy-duty free-floating tiller handle with controls, tachometer, hour meter, waterproof trim switch and stainless steel muffler. A long-shaft, the 35L is ideal for larger boats carrying max loads over open water. <p></p> From the vibration-damping polymer bushings to the extra-thick torque-eliminating skeg plate, the GTR balances power with performance. Protected by a lifetime drive belt warranty. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>7,645
- <h2>Go-Devil 35SD</h2>Go-Devil’s surface-drive 35-hp is a powerful mud motor built around the dependable, time-tested Vanguard air-cooled engine. As functional as it is simple, the <a href="http://www.godevil.com/35hp_VANGUARD_SD.html" target="_blank">35SD</a> has manual tilt/trim, a multi-position floating tiller handle, squeeze grip throttle and a belt-driven Synchronous Gear Reduction system rated for 100-hp. <p></p> The drive train features a dependable seal housing, lower bronze bushing, spiral groove for hydrodynamic lubrication and pressure lubricator. Built on an all steel frame, it’s available in a short or long transom. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>5,595
- <h2>Go-Devil Surface Drive 16X60</h2>Go-Devil is one of the few manufacturers that builds duck boats for traditional longtails and high-performance surface-drive mud motors. The <a href="http://www.godevil.com/16x60SD.html" target="_blank">16x60</a> is one of the most popular models. There’s no wood in the transom and the aluminum floor is slip-proof. The wider 60-inch bottom creates more hydrostatic lift on the hull, allowing surface-drive engines to perform at their best. This hull also features tapered chines, which add strength and allow the boat to slide off submerged obstacles. <p></p> Go-Devils also feature longitudinal ribs that provide maximum strength, and the SD models track better than most at low speeds. Built from .125-thick marine-grade alloy, the 16x60 features “V” crimps on the sides to provide additional strength. The raised front deck can accommodate an electric trolling motor, or optional dry storage compartment. This model also comes with either a standard bench seat or split-seat, and is rated for a 35-hp motor. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>4,595
- <h2>Lowe 1860DLX</h2>Nicknamed the “in-betweener,” this model offers the maneuverability of a tiller with the extended deck of a side console. <a href="http://www.loweboats.com/2014/hunting-boats/Roughneck-1860-DLX/" target="_blank">Lowe’s 1860DLX</a> has a centerline length of 18’, beam of 85” and a bottom width of 60”. Made of .100-welded marine-grade aluminum, the boat has a 75-hp rating. Other features include a wing-style beach seat, 18-gallon aerated livewell, starboard rod holder and dead grass paint job. The 1860DLX is also available in an optional Mossy Oak or Reelfoot hand-applied camo paint scheme. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>7,472
- <h2>MoMarsh Fat Boy DP</h2>The <a href="http://www.momarsh.com/layout-boats-and-accessorie/fat-boy-dp/" target="_blank">Fat Boy DP</a> is part marsh boat, part layout boat/blind, making it useful for a variety of skinny cover situations. A tunnel hull makes this boat exceptionally stable, yet able to handle an impressive 520 pounds. The Fat Boy DP is 13’ by 44” and only drafts two inches of water, optimal for slipping into places no traditional duck boat can travel. It’s just as functional in open water as a layout for divers, and only weighs 95 pounds, so it’s transportable without a trailer. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,279
- <h2>Mud Buddy Sport V</h2>Expanded to include 44- and 50-hp models, the <a href="http://www.mudbuddy.com/opencart/index.php?route=product/category&path=137_138" target="_blank">Sport V</a> is the only mud motor offering Mercury Bravo III cone clutch shifting, providing forward, neutral and reverse in a convenient lever on the tiller handle. <p></p> Mud Buddy redesigned the Sport V to include heavy-duty outdrive castings with an exclusive five-year casting warranty (commercial use included). Gear-driven, the Sport V is one of the most powerful and toughest motors on the market. Both throttle and trim switch are located at the end of the tiller handle. Standard features are many, and the quality of the V is reflected in its price tag. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>9,347-<strong>$</strong>10,349
- <h2>Orion Poseidon</h2>Looking for three boats in one? The <a href="http://www.orionoutboards.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=8" target="_blank">Poseidon</a>, offered in the MD-15 and MB-17, are part layout, sneak boat and floating blind. Versatile enough for a variety of environments, they’re low profile and highly stable (like a good sneak boat should be). The Poseidon can be grassed up too or fitted with a pop-up blind. The raised cockpit makes the boat more seaworthy and provides the perfect platform from which to fashion blinds. <p></p> The rake has been extended to allow the Poseidon to plane off quickly in shallow water and fully loaded. Removable sliding seats provide more flexibility to different hunting conditions, and the boats come with a bevy of options, including bow rails for bow hunting, low profile flip-open doors and extra seats. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>4,275-<strong>$</strong>4,775
- <h2>Orion Vertical Shaft</h2><a href="http://www.orionoutboards.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=2" target="_blank">Orion</a> has a new series of mud motors, ranging from 6.5- to 37-hp, featuring commercial-grade Vanguard and Kohler Command Pro engines. All models will feature Orion’s proven Centrifugal Drive system and a right-angle gear box on the lower unit. The Maximum Reverse Thrust (MRT) feature allows you to rotate the engine 180 degrees, adjust the trim and the motor performs in reverse. <p></p> These motors come with a two-year warranty on the frame, three-year warranty on the clutch, gear box and motor, and lifetime warranty on the drive belt. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>3,895
- <h2>Phowler Big Water</h2>Flexibility and versatility are the foundations of this series. Constructed of .125-thick welded aluminum, the <a href="http://phowlerboatcompany.com/boats/phowler-big-water-series" target="_blank">Big Water</a> is offered in models from 20- to 24-feet and designed for open water. All the boats in this series offer an extra-wide 72-inch bottom and a beam of up to 102 inches, making these rigs extremely balanced and stable, running hulls that can haul amazing amounts of gear and hunters. <p></p> Built to custom order, this model can be configured as either a flat nose or modified V bow and functions as both a tender boat for layout shooting and/or a floating boat blind. With a laundry list of options, these boats can be configured to the satisfaction of any duck hunter. <p></p> Phowler also produces a wealth of custom-fit blind options designed to make this boat the ultimate hunting platform. Powered by outboard or twin Pro-Drive mud motors. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>22,500
- <h2>Pro Drive X36</h2>Featuring a 36-hp Vanguard Big Block V-Twin, CDI ignition, stainless steel muffler, high capacity fuel pump and a 20/50-amp alternator for running accessories (spotlight or GPS), the <a href="http://prodriveoutboards.com/index.php/motors/models" target="_blank">X36</a> is the ultimate short-tail. In addition to full-power reverse, the X36 also offers automatic full-power reverse for console rigs, which lets the prop rotate 180 degrees so the motor performs as well in reverse as in forward. <p></p> Available in 16- or 20-inch transom, the X36 is capable of producing speeds up to 30 mph, and standard features include instant forward/neutral, a tach/hour meter, momentary forward button, hydraulic power trim, twist grip throttle, three-blade prop and heavy-duty clutch system. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>6,170-<strong>$</strong>7,670
- <h2>Pro-Drive SBX</h2>Water has a knack of finding its way into your duck boat, but <a href="http://www.prodriveoutboards.com/index.php/about/x2-series-boats/" target="_blank">Pro Drive’s new SBX</a> (self-bailing) series attacks this issue with functional simplicity. A sealed floor encapsulates the cockpit as scupper outlets evacuate water. This unique system is so effective, a boat left unattended and at the mercy of heavy rains will not swamp. No need for a bilge pump or heavy battery. <p></p> SBX boats are available in 17-, 18-, 20- and 24-foot models with choices of either 48-, 54- or 60-inch bottoms. Standard features include a 4-foot front deck with hatch, 12-gallon low-profile gas tank, rear driver seat with storage, multi-position seat/gun box, LED shark eye running lights and paint. <p></p> Pro Drive has also introduced the T-Rail system, providing extra strength to the boat and a way to attach items to the gunnels. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>6,752-<strong>$</strong>8,377
- <h2>SeaArk Mud Runner 180</h2>The <a href="http://seaarkboats.net/mud-runner-180/" target="_blank">Mud Runner</a> series features a welded smooth hull ideal for marshes, flooded timber, river bottoms—just about anywhere you find ducks. The 180 is 18 feet long with a 72-inch beam and a bottom width of 52 inches. Built from welded .125-thick marine-grade aluminum, the 180 has a 50-hp rating and can handle a cargo load of approximately 700 pounds. <p></p> The unique combo transverse and longitudinal grid-style rib design makes for an incredibly strong hull. SeaArk also developed an extra-wide heavy cap extrusion for additional strength and to provide a place for securing blinds. <p></p> Special features include a hunt step, making it easy to get in and out of the boat, split rear seat design with integrated storage, pointed bow to help navigate timber and brush-choked areas, inside drain plug access, bow storage for fuel and a low profile extruded keel for tight turns. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>5,966
- <h2>War Eagle 544 Warhawk</h2>Modified V hull multi-purpose boats are <a href="http://wareagleboats.com/boats/24/544-warhawk" target="_blank">War Eagle’s</a> specialty, and the all-new 544 takes this tradition to another level. A six-degree “V” hull makes for maneuverability in marshes, flooded timber and buck brush. The 21-inch wing transom aids in hull lift, enabling the boat to plane off fast in shallow water. The exceptionally sharp bow design is ideal for navigating in flooded timber and other tight spaces. <p></p> Special features include the choice of camo patterns, full aluminum floor and side panels complete with a Linex spray coating to deaden sound and provide a slip-free, rugged surface. Rear seat storage, a 30-hp rating and extensive list of options, make this a perfect fit for the hardcore hunter. Price based on typical boat/motor/trailer package. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>11,000
- <h2>Xpress XTS</h2>Tough enough to stand up to Arkansas flooded green timber, the XTS16 and XTS18 were designed for the ultimate in outboard motor performance (package includes a 40-hp Yamaha) and developed by industry stalwarts. RNT’s Jim Ronquest, who helped with the design, calls the new XTS: “The finest running boat I have ever run, and most likely on the market.” <p></p> <a href="http://www.xpressboats.com/view/hunting" target="_blank">XTS series</a> boats are built using .100-thick 5052 aluminum alloy. The all-welded construction is augmented by a wealth of standard features including a step transom, unibody foam injection system and longitudinal rib skeleton. Its HD:3 hull, features a wider bottom and narrower beam that creates an exceptionally agile and shallow-running hull with sports car-like performance. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>13,495-<strong>$</strong>13,995