I don't believe there are many marsh duck boats I have not seen over the years. I have studied them, built them, and went to any number of museums in the worlds waterfowl capital, Chesapeake bay, to see the classics. I have seen layout boats, sneak boats, modified duck skiffs, many variants of the famed Barnegat bay duck boat and even a very rare duck boat used on the Susquehanna River, the unique Roll over duckboat.
A couple of very old duck boats are in the above photo. Both are termed sneak boats. The one on the far left is a classic that can be found in a hundred different modifications in Waterfowl regions across North America. The boat on the far right has a basic hull design also found in many places. This boat is a "Punt Gun" sneak boat used in the market hunting days on the Chesapeake Bay in the early 20th century. The punt gun is actually a home made cannon that shot a pound of shot at night at rafts of Canvasback ducks. Some sneak boats like this one had 6 or 8 fixed 4 to 10 gauge barrels sticking out the front that were all touched off at once. Notice old outboard motors in right left of photo.
The duck boat on the left is a decked over boat necessary for rough water usually found in salt or semi-salt brackish water environments or large lakes. A major problem of such boats is lack of space for hunter and gear and heavy weight. This type of boat is preferred in many classic areas of the east-coast semi-salt or salt marshes. Most of this type of duck boat and lay-out boats owe their heritage to the famous Barnegat bay boat.
The 2 duck boats up above are for the sake of history. The middle photo shows proper camouflage for a duck boat today. If someone tried to spot this boat from the air, namely a smart Mallard, they just might have a hard time as the break-up pattern (similar pattern used on U.S. Navy ships in WWII) is effective.
Mudmotors are great if you really boat in the mud a lot. Outboards have more smooth available fuel saving power at the prop in general. Mud motors were developed in Asia as a home grown cheap motor. Some modified long tail mud motor boats in Thailand can go over a 100 MPH. Outboards have a 100 year history of American innovation behind them. Both have a place in North American waterfowling.
As marsh duck boats go, I find the Castlecraft Sportspal X-13 the ultimate ducking craft. It is 13 feet long and is made of light aircraft aluminum. It has built in floatation and side foam sponsons which make it super stable and cannot sink and is very low profile. This boat is a variant of the famed Maine Guide or Adirondack Guide boat. The fine craft weighs in at only 70 pounds. The boat is wide and easy to stand in to both drive and shoot. It can be powered with as little as a 2 1/2 H.P. outboard and plane over the water with one person and achieve speeds of close to 20 Mph. Fuel MPG is an unbelievable 10 MPQ...get it? That is miles per QUART! To achieve these speeds and fuel economy you must have weight forward and an outboard tiller extension and other modifications. This rig will go back of beyond where other boats and motors fear to tred. Add a 4 H.P. outboard and it will plane 2 medium weight hunters with light gear. You can see more pros and cons of outboard vs. mudmotors in Alaska and elsewhere in my download for sale below.
This boat uses little fuel and can be portaged and carried quite a way or rolled on wheels. It even comes from the factory with marsh color camo. It has both oarlocks and a sculling oarlock attachment on the wide back for sneaking on ducks. I even build a sailing rig for mine. It has build in foam covered comfortable seats and and extra seat stowed under the front bow cover. This boat beats any of the old wood designs that are being brought back from the dead now using plywood and epoxy/fiberglass.
The main reason this boat is better is that it has lots of usable space because it had no top deck, that is not needed in a marsh. Many of the plywood/epoxy/fiberglass duck boats weigh in excess of 100 pounds and have less space. Mass produced fiberglass and plastic boats weigh even more. In a marsh boat, every extra pound means extra effort. Launching, carrying, or dragging through marsh grass is extra effort for the hunter. Heavy weight means extra effort for your outboard and extra gas, every mile, and extra fuel weight to carry!
I have used one of these boats in Alaska for 10 years on many guided and unguided trips. I have chewed through 1 inch ice for miles with no ill effect on the hull. It has been carried and portaged til' the cows come home and comes out a total winner every time with no damage. It can be thrown in the back of a pick-up and not need the hassle of a trailer. If any marsh boat can beat it, I have not seen it. The X-13 sells for about $1300 plus shipping to Anchorage. Download my PROFESSIONAL WATERFOWL SERETS below to see how to fine tune the X-13 into the finest lightweight marsh duck boat ever made. This boat is one of the best kept secrets in marsh waterfowling. They do not have a flashy website full of testimonies from duck hunters and macho dudes with waterfowl band bling and beards. Just a basic unassuming site and a great product. I am not connected to this company in any way. This is just my honest opinion formed over a lifetime of waterfowlin'.
I used to participate in spring Muskrat hunting in Interior Alaska years ago. The old expert Native woodsman still built the classic "rat canoe" then. This is a very light craft made of spruce wood keel and ribs. It is covered in canvas and then painted. It makes a very light canoe to portage between lakes. It also is great as a duck hunting canoe. It makes a superior duck sneak boat because of it's low profile. Back then, we would make our paddles also from spruce. The complex design of the Athabasca/Tanana paddle is one of the worlds most beautiful designs and efficient. It is narrow with a rib running down one side and no paddle is as quite to sneak up on game. These paddles are now almost a lost art.
If you want to learn more about marsh boats and duck hunting Far North Native and non-Native canoes, boats and kayaks that work anywhere and pro guide modifications. Order my advanced PROFESSIONAL WATERFOWL SECRETS below.
BTW : It is illegal to shoot waterfowl from a moving boat under power.
NEW for 2017 : ALASKA BLACK MAMBA
She is loud, mean and nasty, spits a big stream of vernom and will go fast where mud motors fear to tred. At only 65 pounds she is the lightest power to weight duck boat motor out there. Modified to 17-18 horsepower with high speed race type weedless prop. Designed for 12 ft. Jon boats. Will push modified boat to 30 mph in 6 to 8 inches of water hydroplaning over mud and weeds. Turns on a dime with extended tiller configuration. 2 stroke power and acceleration puts boat and motor on step in less than a boat length. Call for more info 887-6066