Skip to main content

The Best Duck Boats For This Season

Gear Up With The Best Boats to Kill More Ducks When Season Arrives

Best Duck Boats This Season

(Layout Addictions Ghost 2-Man)

Duck boats today come as dream rigs, a far cry from those in the past. With high-end manufacturers crafting custom-tailored duck boats, hunters no longer need to cut, tweak, and otherwise mutilate perfectly good fishing boats to get the features they need for a winter on the water. This has created a pleasant experience for the duck boat shopper, allowing them to order exactly what they want right off the assembly line.

While different boats serve different roles, that doesn’t mean that selecting your next craft should take years off your life as you fret over the details. Jeff Coats, A.K.A. Pitboss, has spent enough time on the big water, guiding seaduck hunts to rival nearly any captain in the U.S. Over the years, he has learned from experience what he needs, what he doesn’t, and how to properly outfit a boat with exactly the features he needs to be comfortable and successful. Given his vast experience, it only made sense to pick his brain to help shorten the

learning curve for those looking to make a purchase. Like many hunters, Coats started out buying what

he could afford. “Before I guided, I hunted out of a 14-foot jon boat designed for fishing,” he said. He recalls learning the hard way that using just “a” boat was a dangerous endeavor. He recalled, “One day, we were hunting canvasbacks on the bay, and the wind changed. By the time we realized what was happening, we scrambled to get to the boat, which became swamped and damaged.”

This is when he realized that upgrading to what he needed, not just hunting out of what he had, was not just a matter of comfort but safety. “Even before I started guiding, I was looking to purchase a hard-blind style of duck boat,” stated Coats. Over the years, he has upgraded from 17 to 21 to 25-foot boats and now operates out of a 32-foot Duckwater. “My boat is an extension of me, my service, my desire for safety, and a compliment to my style of hunting.”

Lessons learned allow Coats to be a springboard for discussion on boats and features, helping to lead others to the right choice the first time. “Nearly every guided hunt, the subject of duck boats comes up, and things like designs, features, and options are all questions that I am happy to discuss,” he said. He feels that while one boat can’t do it all, hunters can maximize
their purchase by taking the time to understand their prospective hunting environments.

First and foremost, he feels that size is an important aspect when selecting a boat and that bigger is generally better, especially for open-water boats. “In the wrong boat, when the weather changes, you’re in trouble,” he says. Regardless of the boat you are in, he emphatically states that checking the weather before and during the hunt is crucial. “The weather can change quickly, and with modern phone apps, it is easy to stay up to date.”

When I asked about options, Coats felt that quality LED lighting was a must and that an open floor plan allowed hunters to maximize their versatility.

“I suggest flexible rather than permanent seating for adaptability,” he says. Other must-haves he suggested include deep sides, a large splash well, enclosed storage for guns and gear to keep it secure, and items like gunnel-mounted shelves or shell holders. These features make the hunt more enjoyable and safer, keeping things from sliding around on the floor and, maybe most importantly, dry.

Boats, with proper care, will last a lifetime and create unforgettable memories for you, your family, and your friends. Buy the right boat once, outfit it for your needs, and sit back and enjoy the water. It doesn’t get any simpler or more rewarding than that.

LAYOUT ADDICTIONS GHOST 2-MAN LAYOUT BOAT

Layout addiction two man boat
(Layout Addictions Ghost 2-Man)

If you have never experienced true, open-water gunning, you are missing out. And, to take it one step further, if you have never hunted in this style from a two-man, you are really missing out. Nothing says a good time like watching your buddy miss a layup single and getting it on camera. Yes, that may be me, and the 2-man Ghost Layout ensures that you can make that happen, too! Made from durable aluminum, the Ghost is built to last a lifetime. It includes all the right features, including an adjustable spray shield, a false floor with HydroTurf, shell holders, headrests, and more. Pair it with a Great Lakes Duck Boat, and you are sure to be the talk of the town, heck, maybe the country! $3,650 | layoutaddictions.com

WAR EAGLE 961 BLACKHAWK

War Eagle Boat
(War Eagle 961 Blackhawk)

If you look up the definition of all-purpose on Wiki, undoubtedly, the War Eagle 961 Blackhawk will pop up. Measuring 19-feet long with a bottom width of 61 inches, the 961’s 18-degree V-hull is perfect for crossing the choppy big water and snaking through the shallows. It is equipped with a reverse chine and wings transom that allow the 961 to corner on a dime and maneuver around obstacles with ease. It is offered in both a center or side console model and can be outfitted in either Realtree and Mossy Oak camo patterns, pick your poison. In addition to the 19-foot 961, War Eagle makes bigger and smaller siblings measuring 21 and 17-foot respectively. Contact Dealer for Pricing | wareagleboats.com

Recommended


GATOR-TAIL SAVAGE SERIES

Gator-Tail boat
(Gator-Tail Savage Series)

If you are a timber hunter, check out Gator-Tail’s Savage Series. The Savage Series was specifically designed for greenhead connoisseurs who hunt the obstruction-choked flooded timber of the South. Measuring 17 feet long and 50 inches wide, the Savage Series finesses through tight quarters with ease while providing ample room for gear, hunters, and decoys. Deep,

24-inch sides, dual real pods with a 12-inch deck, dual gun trays, a stabilizer kit, and a four-foot front deck are just a few of a plethora of hunter-built features on the Savage Series. Like wine and cheese, the Savage Series pairs perfectly with any of Gator-Tail’s surface drive mud motors to get you in deep. Packages Start at $25,737 | gator-tail.com

EXCEL BOATS VIPER F4 PRO HULL

Excel Boats Pro Viper F4
(Excel Boats Pro Hull Viper F4)

The F4 Pro Hull is the lightest and quickest F4 in Excel’s lineup. It boasts an open floor plan design that provides tons of room for gear and passengers. Standard features include hunt-tough .125 gauge, 5086 aluminum alloy, F4 step deck, grab bar, bilge, interior courtesy light panel, and driver’s seat box. The Pro Hull is available in both a low- and high-front deck model, which is the hunter’s choice. That said, if you want more room, the low front deck model is your huckleberry, as it allows even more room for decoys, hunters, and gear! Worthy options include an Orca cooler seat, gun box, gunwale trays, built-in fuel tank, and exclusive OPTIFADE camo paint. Hulls Start at $10,000 | excelboats.com

MUD BUDDY HYPERDRIVE REVERSE

Mud Buddy HDR 40 EFI
(Mud Buddy HDR 40 EFI)

The Hyperdrive Reverse (HDR) by Mud Buddy recently took the Hyper-drive’s reputation for power and toughness and added quick, electric shifting from forward to neutral to reverse with the simple flick of a switch. Rugged, hunt-ready features include a stainless-steel drive tube, stainless-steel skag, Mercury-built 8300 pound power trim, all-aluminum cast 3/8” thick outdrive with a five-year warranty, a built-in travel lock, four auto-motive style vibration dampers in the mount and handle for the smoothest drive ever, and a stainless oversized throttle lever. It is available with a variety of different powerheads, but when equipped with the BPS 4400 Mag black Death, make sure your passengers hold on! Starting at $7,982 | mudbuddy.com

BACKWATER SWOMP 23 HP

Backwater Swamp 35 HP boat motor
(Backwater Swomp 35 HP)

Need an excellent, all-around mud motor that’s economical and easy to handle, yet provides some serious power to get you moving in tough conditions? If so, look no further than Backwater’s SWOMP 23 long-tail mud motor. The SWOMP 23 is a good match for a 1648 Jon boat, and if you aren’t familiar with what makes Backwater’s long-tails so dependable, you’re about to be. Backwater long-tails have no universal joint to increase power and remove unnecessary parts, an adjustable cavitation plate for better performance, Revo-Clean bearing systems for increased bearing life, and a Versa-Mount to match the motor transom mount to any transom angle. To boot, they are also available in horsepower ratings ranging from 6.5 to 40. Starting at $3,600 | backwaterinc.com

MOMARSH FATBOY DP

MoMarsh FatBoy DP
(MoMarsh Fatboy DP)

If you are looking for an adaptable one-man watercraft, the “DP” in MOMarsh’s Fatboy DP stands for dual purpose. Built with a double-ender design for easy paddling yet available with a removable transom, the Fatboy DP gives you the option to hunt shallow water mallards in the morning and big water divers in the afternoon. This boat will take you anywhere you can dream up, and its shallow profile allows you to hide once you get there. It fits into the back of all truck beds and can be stacked one on top of another for easy transport. It is also stable enough to stand in while poling or paddling. $1,999 | momarsh.com

GREAT LAKES DUCK BOATS

Great Lakes Duck Boats
(Great Lakes Duck Boats Coastal Series)

While Great Lakes Duck Boats may be “new” to building full-size duck boats, they have years of experience
in aluminum, marine construction. This allows them to create sleek, strong, and dependable aluminum boats worthy of hunting the biggest of waters, including the ocean. Available in 22, 24, and 26-foot lengths, Great Lakes Duck Boats include a .250-inch outer hull, dog ladder, 55-gallon fuel tank, marine grade electrical components, navigation lights, and decoy curtains to keep your gear safe and secure. These boats are the ultimate open-water vessels that are specifically designed for duck hunters. They are spendy, but does your kid really need a college fund? Wouldn’t he rather experience all this duck-hunting euphoria from your new boat?
Starting at $35,895 | greatlakesduckboats.com




GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

Fiocchi's New Duck Busters

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

Migration Strike

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

Enhancing the Hunt: Skip Knowles and Tetra Hearing's Game-Changing Products

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

The Goose Factory

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

Heyday Outdoor - HydroFoam Diver Duck Decoys Review & Field Test

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Learn

Why You Suck at Shooting….and How to Fix Your Faults

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

Remington Gun Club Cure Shotshells

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

B&P Ammunition

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

Browning Maxus 2 Wicked Wing

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Gear

Why You Should Be Using Confidence Decoys for Duck Hunting

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Learn

Exercise-Induced Heat-Related Illness

Adding honker floaters in your duck decoy spread can greatly add to your success.
Learn

Using Goose Floaters for Duck Hunting

Wildfowl Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Wildfowl App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Wildfowl stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Wildfowl subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now