The Ultimate Guide To The Best Duck Hunting Boats


Duck hunting boats are excellent tools for utilizing the rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes of North America.

The evolution of duck boats, including the use of space-age fiber construction, makes navigation safer and easier for duck hunters.

A duck hunting boat can offer many new waterfowl hunting opportunities.

As feeding or water conditions change, a duck boat can provide the mobility to continue chasing the unpredictable waterfowl migrations.

In many instances, new duck hunting locations are found by simply launching from a public boat ramp and motoring, poling, or paddling into a new area.

A Note About Duck Hunting Boats

duck hunting boats

Waterfowl feed, rest, and congregate in a wide range of locations.

Due to the diversity of waterfowl habitats, various specialized watercraft have been designed to transport hunters and provide a means of hunting otherwise unreachable birds.

Most lakes, marshes, and river systems offer some form of public access.

Purchasing a fully loaded duck hunting boat can require a significant monetary investment.

It is important to thoroughly analyze your needs.

Evaluate your hunting location, the distance, the number of hunters and gear you will carry, and other possible uses, such as fishing, before moving forward.

Choosing your ideal duck boat requires matching the boat to the types and sizes of the water you hunt.

A duck hunter chasing mallards on a shallow reed marsh needs a different boat than an open water diver hunter.

The following article is a basic guide to duck hunting boats covering various hunting conditions.


Duck Hunting Boats

Canoes have been used throughout history and their popularity and longevity is derived from versatility.

It can easily navigate most water types with the exception of bays or large lakes.

Due to its simple and lightweight design, canoes are highly portable, even without a trailer.

Its lightweight construction allows hunters to carry them around obstacles in the water.

With all of the canoes advantages, it also has limitations, such as payload capacity and initial instability.


Pirogues are often considered a Cajun creation.

Native Americans used this style of dugout canoe for transportation and Cajuns adopted the practices out of necessity.

Cypress logs were the basis of early pirogues and modern-day models are constructed out of synthetic materials.

Its sleek design allows for easy navigation through vegetation that could hinder a larger boat.

Like canoes, pirogues suffer from instability and low payload capacity.

Jonboats or Flatbottoms

Mention the words duck boat and most duck hunters picture a flat-bottomed jonboat.

Mention the words duck boat and most duck hunters picture a flat-bottomed jonboat.

Jonboats (Johnboats) or flatbottoms excel at shallow water navigation.

Its flat, wide bottoms create stable hunting platforms. Jonboats are versatile waterfowling crafts commonly used on nearly all duck hunting waters.

The drawback to a flat-bottomed jonboat is the square bow.

The square bow does not cut the waves and results in a rough wet ride on choppy water.

Vee Bottom Boats

Vee bottom boats shine in rough or big water, such as large lakes or bays.

Vee bottoms are stable, deep-hulled and sharp keeled boats capable of parting waves and preventing the intake of water.

Vee bottom boats are often the preferred boats of diving duck waterfowlers.

Typically Vee bottom boats are not ideal for shallow water.

Semi-Vee Boats

Semi vee or modified vee bottom boats are some of the most popular hunting boats among waterfowlers.

These boats are extremely versatile.

Semi vee boats have a mild keel and pointed bow to part waves and a flat bottom for shallow water navigation.

Semi vee boats are often designed specifically for duck hunting.

Choosing A Motor

When you are choosing the correct duck hunting boat, the same criteria should be used for choosing a motor.

Outboard motors are great for deep water, long runs, and faster top speeds.

Mud motors offer the advantage of operating in super shallow water and heavy vegetation.

Mud motors come in two configurations, surface drive and long tail.

Surface drive mud motors are ideal for shallow open marshes.

They offer good load carrying capabilities and good speed.

Long-tail mud motors can be more useful in shallow, stumpy locations that can easily hang up your boat.


Duck hunting boats are useful and effective waterfowling tools.

Due to the temperatures, weather conditions, and water conditions that come with duck season, boating can be especially dangerous if you do not follow a few safety rules.

Every duck season numerous hunters are killed in boating accidents.

Venturing into rough water in too small of a boat or boating without wearing an appropriate life-preserver is setting yourself up for a life-threatening situation.