There’s no substitute for skimming across the water in a real duck boat, complete with a bad-ass mud motor jutting off the transom. Tow that sweet rig past any club and watch tongues wag—the retrievers too!
Most hunters love their camo-clad duck sleds as much as the 4×4 trucks that pull them. The modern crop of duck assault boats are unstoppable, tough, stable and so durable, if you choose wisely you won’t need another for a very long time. You probably love them like a newborn—maybe more.
Here are some of the best boats money can buy.
Hunting open water can be frustrating if you don’t have access to the proper boat. Stop twiddling your thumbs in the blind and get out there with the 17-foot Bankes Freedom. There’s nothing but space inside this craft. Dual shelving runs the length of the cockpit on both sides. You can store more than four-dozen decoys on the lower shelves and still have plenty of space. For a little bit more, you can purchase a custom cover and two different blind packages, which will help in putting you on the birds. Run up to a 75-hp motor to chase after the ducks.
It’s always nice to put a personal touch on your duck boat, and Beavertail can do just that. The Minnesota-based company builds custom aluminum boats to complement its mud motors. Models start with a 14x48 and run the scale up to a massive 20x72. Standard features include an all-welded hull, stern and sidewalls, two water-resistant gun boxes, a drop-floor in the stern for stowing batteries and a fuel tank, tapered front deck, flotation pods, foam-filled floor, front and rear exterior grab handles and built-in interior tubing for electronics wiring.
If you’re a fan of the Excel F4 line, then get ready, because here comes the new F86. A durable .125-gauge hull is equipped with 5086 aluminum alloy, eliminating stumps, logs, ice or whatever’s keeping you out of a duck honey hole. Improved rake allows for a fast and dry ride with a full load of hunters and gear.
The slick bottom and triple-tier chine glides in the shallows and will turn on a dime in tight spaces. Fill the Twin Gun Box and Open Floor Plan models full of decoys, dogs and your best buddies. The B-series has a crash-resistant bow rail and watertight front deck storage box.
Great amenities at a great price, that’s what you’ll get from the Gator-Tail Timber series. The pointed bow is specially made for high-speed impact hits, so the boat will bounce right off those pesky tree stumps. A smooth aluminum floor, 4-foot front deck and plenty of storage space will have you smiling.
Durability is key with every backwater craft, and the 1/8-inch thick marine-grade 5086 H116 aluminum sides, bottom and transom will put any hunter’s mind at ease.
Gator Trax Custom
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in this line of custom boats, then just stop looking. Gator Trax has everything from canoes on up to five-figure, top-of-the-line watercraft. May we suggest the Gator Hide (not pictured here), which blends the benefits of a three- or four-man layout boat with the utility of a standard jon boat.
Available features include: dog ladders, a stabilizer kit for easier shooting, two-positional Double Island bench seating, gun racks and spotlight kits.
Sick of getting stuck in the muck? Dominate those marshes with Go-Devil Surface-Drive Boats. Capable of running up to a 35-hp motor (excluding the 16x48), the SDBs offer durability with 1/8-inch thick, hardened marine-grade aluminum hulls. V crimps are incorporated to each sidewall of the hull, giving added strength.
The boats have an open layout, allowing hunters to move about with ease. There are also compartments for keeping your gear dry. A large platform at the front of the boat is an excellent place for any accomplished water dog, awaiting the next triple.
Built to commercial-grade standards, the Lowe Frontier series offers added toughness over typical jon boats.
A SuperLock aluminum .100-gauge hull, constructed with durable cross ribs and a solid center keel ensure dependability for the most rugged of duck hunters. This boat has a slick little ammo box so you don’t have to fumble around the deck, searching for dropped shells. There’s also an electrical outlet to plug in your crock-pot at lunch.
Price: $3,495 (starting price)
Are you sick of standing in a puddle of water while trying to shoulder your favorite shotgun? It makes for a dismal day, we know. Pro-Drive’s SBX (self-bailing) series includes large scupper outlets along the floor, which will evacuate any water finding its way into the boat. No more bilge pumps. In manufacturer testing, the SBX has been submerged under water—36-hp motor and all—and recovered completely once released.
With a wide-open floor plan, welded-in and sealed above the waterline, this craft has the same structure underneath as the standard X series. SBX boats come in 17-, 18-, 20- and 24-foot lengths with a 4-foot front deck and hatch. There’s a laundry list of options to customize your very own duck boat.
Looking for a perfect two-man watercraft with superb handling? The DXS is your ticket. SeaArk’s Extreme Turn Technology allows for sharp cornering in dense timber, or any kind of sticky situation that requires a quick maneuver. With a solid base (60-inch bottom width on the 1860 SLD), the DXS line offers stability when shooting and retrieving those hard-to-find mallards.
A built-in waterproof gun box, treadplate floor, oversized extruded caprails, 3/16-inch extruded keel and a three-degree all-welded .100-gauge hull come standard. Five different camo patterns are available, including Mossy Oak’s Break-Up and Shadow Grass.
War Eagle 961 Blackhawk
If you’re a fan of the War Eagle 2170 Blackhawk, but are looking for a paired down version, consider the 961. It’s basically the “mini” 2170. The 961 is still a good-sized duck boat at 19½x61, so don’t be too worried about running out of room. Standard equipment includes: center console with an insulated bait well (if you limit early), console handrail, 18-gallon built-in fuel tank, GatorHyde spray liner…you get the idea. The standards are like features on other boats.
Xpress HD Duck models are available in 15- and 16-footers. Standards include a center keel for improved handling with smaller motors in tight quarters, a slightly raised front deck, added storage up front and enclosed fuel tank compartment in the rear. The HD Duck boats come equipped with a gun box, skid-resistant Xtreme Coat Liner, and Xpress or NatGear camouflage.
Available accessories include: a 12-volt outlet, Tree Hugger attachment, dog platform and gun bracket. These boats are constructed from 5052-grade aluminum. Both sizes have 21-inch transoms. The 15-footer is rated for a 40-hp, while the 16-footer is rated for a 50-hp.