The Mining Journal - Page 11B Sunday, October 31, 1999     

U.P.-built boat great for ducks
by Marty Kovarik

There's probably no better reason for going out in nasty weather than duck hunting.

The term "nice weather for a duck," referring to foul conditions, is no accident. To the joy of duck hunters, late autumn storms up north push the migrators down, and big waves on Superior bring the birds inland.

Wind, rain and snow just naturally make duck hunting better. Weather keeps the ducks moving, adds life to your decoys and, if you're jump shooting, helps to conceal your motion and noise. If you see someone walking around with a big smile on their face during inclement fall weather, chances are it's a duck hunter.

There is also probably no better reason for buying new equipment than duck hunting. I recently had the opportunity to acquire a used, like new Hoefgen duck boat. This odd-looking craft - which is a combination of a canoe, kayak, sneak and layout boat - is the best acquisition in hunting gear I've made in a long time. It has literally opened the door to secluded places on rivers and marshes where ducks are.

Whereas setting out decoys and lying in wait for your prize to buzz in on set wings is certainly an exciting and productive way to hunt ducks, there is another alternative. Sneaking up on wily waterfowl is a combination of grouse hunting without a dog and still-hunting for deer. The Hoefgen duck boat is one of the finest crafts for doing this type of hunting and I could literally sing its praises all daylong. The fact that it is made in the Upper Peninsula, manufactured by the Hoefgen Canoe Co. in Menominee, adds greatly to the pleasure of hunting in it.

Jump-shooting on rivers and marshes can easily be done in a canoe, but the low profile of a duck boat gives you an added edge while sneaking. Nothing is more thrilling than silently drifting tight to shore around a bend in the river and having a half dozen startled mallards reaching for air.

This type of river or marsh jump-shooting is best done with two hunters and one gun. The paddler in the stern eases the boat around edges of river bends and hidden bays and the shooter, who is low in the bow, is the first one at the scene.

"...One of the best ways to jump-shoot ducks is in a Hoefgen duck boat manufactured in Menominee, which Marty Kovarik is shown sneaking along the shore of an inland lake in. (Carol Kovarik photo)"

In addition to jumping ducks in hidden places, it can also be done with some success on open water. This is where a layout or sneak boat is best suited for the job

While glassing a small inland lake during our recent 25 to 40 mph winds and 22-foot Lake Superior seas, I noticed a small flock of White-winged scoters and two groups of buffleheads that were driven inland off the big lake. By keeping a low profile and paddling close to shore I was able to get upwind of the ducks. Staying low and pointing the bow towards the birds, the high winds closed the distance quickly as I drifted within range of the ducks. When I sat up, the birds were very surprised to see a human in the middle of a lake and took to the sky. I very politely invited a few over for dinner that night.

The next time the weather gets a little rough, hit the marshes or rivers and make your own luck. When someone asks you why you have such a big smile on your face, reply "it's just ducky."

*No part of this page may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system without the expressed written permission in writing from Heart Lake Press.

Home Page


Duck Boat