Intro/Duck Hunting from a Pontoon Boat?

Guys and girls,

I'll start by introducing myself since I've never formally done so. If you don't want to read this blah blah, I'll bold my question to scroll down too.

Fairly new to the site, not totally new to ffishing. Grew up flying around the north Lake Tahoe area. Been catching trout on a fly in the Truckee, Lil' Truckee, Sagehen, Pyramid Lk, etc since I was young(er). After some military time, moved to Corvallis for some fishing and college (in that order). Like most I assume, I fell in love with the Metolius. Had some great days on the Crooked and Fall. Fished the Alsea and Siletz a lot, though those years were my first real exposure to steelhead. Been learning how to do that with the fly ever since (I prefer catching/fishing the swing, but I'll admit to some bobbers in my vest). Somehow got a BS degree. Moved to SW Montana a few days later for some fishing and work (still in that order). Been living in the gorge (WA side) since January of last year. Definitely been doing some exploring up here, and have found some great fishing. My heart is definitely with 3-5 wt rods, big brownies and freestone and/or spring creeks, but I've always been an optimist and I love where I live! Obviously there isn't a lot of that type of fishing around SW WA, but in the last couple of years I have found some productive beaver ponds, an awesome place north of where I live and upriver from a sizable pond and a bunch of steel water well suited for the fly guy. Caught some of my first shad below the dam this year. Chased smallies this spring. Floated the Yak one time and dug that. Haven't gone NE yet, though I'm planning an upper Col., Sanpoil, Kettle trip whenever I get the time to plan and execute a trip NE. In short, I'm taking advantage of every opportunity I have close to home, but am willing to travel to get into some big bows and brownies! Most of my fishing buddies are neanderthals who prefer gear fishin' (luv ya fellas!), so you'll usually find me fishing alone or with my lady and little boy (he's the yellow retrieving type).

I'll thank you now for info I've pinched and info I'll undoubtedly get in the future. I'm more than willing to provide info on any of the regions or bodies of water I mentioned before, and I'll try to keep up with supplying data I'm familiar with as I see it being discussed on the forum. Finally, unless you're following the rules and/or releasing wild fish, slack lines ladies and gentlemen! Now on to my question...

Has anyone hunted ducks outta their pontoon boat?

Not so much can you... but any tips and tricks you might have. I've had a Scadden boat for 3-4 years, and although it has its goods and bads (see other thread), I love its ability to take me places! Recently, I found a quiet, outta the way spot that I've verified I can shoot ducks at. I'm imagining me on my toon with a dozen or so deeks surrounding me like their momma. In the past, I made alterations to my boat to quiet down some of the noisy stuff and swivel in my seat. Any ideas for making it look like a clump of grass vs. a smurfy helo pad? I was thinking camo netting or a ghillie tarp, but I wonder if that would get to be a pain when moving from place to place? I'm not opposed to something permanent, but I can't imagine paint will work on that surface (PVC?).

I have a lot to learn about duck hunting in general! I'd like to continue the research knowing how I'll most likely be hunting. There's a lot of info out there for hunting outta canoes, but I figure this group'd be the best to consult on how to do it this way. Thanks in advance for any convo!
(Sorry for being long winded, what a chatter box!)

I duck hunted out of my toon for about 5 years until I gave it up after starting a business (somethings had to go but NOT fishing). I spray painted the boat with a three color cammo scheme; light brown, tan and loam. After testing on cardboard I found I liked the look of applying from dark to light. Also found laying a piece of octagonal netting over the toon and painting over it gave a neat look. I did use a brown primer coat that said it would stick to PVC. THis was about 10 years ago and there has been some flaking but not bad considering how much use (misuse) the boat gets.

I made two ghillie cover out of netting for each pontoon. It was actually labeled as a desert pattern but worked good for reeds. I cut one inch slots all over it and thread foot long strips through it and just knotted them on. It did snag a bit but mostly just getting in and out of the water. Even made a poncho in the same style. Also wore a turkey hunting head cover. If I still have covers I'll take some pics.

The way I set up was to tuck the boat into some reeds with the decoys spread out in front of me. Tried a bunch of different spreads but found I liked a "J" the best. The long side of the "J" was out at the max shooting distance and the opening of the "J" was on the down wind side. Easy to set and liked the range markers as I was prone to sky blasting.

After a terrifying incident I started tying a dummy cord to the gun. Secured the other end to my mounting shoulder side of the toon. Also started carrying rags and gun oil in a large ziplock bag.

Duck hunting out of a toon was fun and effective. Good luck.

Thanks for all the good info. I'd heard it was a good idea to secure the weapon, bringing oil and rags is a great idea considering the weather that time of year. I'm leaning towards painting the boat after reading your post. I'll try and get some pics up in the next couple of weeks of progress/results.


I hear ya on the dog. Some of my best memories are huntin' pheasants behind our Brits. Only hunted ducks a few times and it was always with (someone else's) dogs. Mine is recently adopted and was never taught any hunting techniques. That being said, he's a lab... I'm gonna bring him anyways. I've had him lay on the rear platform in still water while fishing. He gets a little nervous when we get too far from shore, other than that, I've failed to hook him on a forward cast.
It works for us.
I made tube sleeves from some die-cut camo material. Then attach a bungie with burlap strips tied into it. It blends pretty well with natural vegitation, and vanishes when you pull some reeds down over you.
I typicaly haul 2 doz malard and 8 goose decoys out on a little waterskeeter without too much trouble.

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Thanks phil,
it was my youngest sons first hunt. They are both pretty hardcore waterfowlers.
I like using the stripped out burlap. It blends well and will last all season long.
A few years back Outcast offered a pontoon model designed for duck hunting. Unforunately, it was the steel fish cat model with camo pontoons, a steel back dog ramp and an optional camo top. I passed on the camo top but bought the boat which had a 250# max load limit. With me (175#) plus dog (70#) and gun and all the extra gear need for a comfortable hunt we were pretty low in the water. The problem for me was hunting in the Potholes region where we launched in the dark and set-up at dawn. I was very nervous about puncturing a pontoon and becoming stranded.

If you have a special spot that you know well and feel confident that you are safe before going in the early morning darkness, a pontoon should work. However, a punctured pontoon in darkness wearing duck hunting gear is a recipe for disaster. I chose to get a duck boat. More costly, less dangerous.
Thanks Guys!

Paul, If I can get my blind looking that good... I be feelin' confident!

Its been raining here the last couple of days, so I've put off painting and started building a fence around the garden. Reading, thinking and pricing has got me now leaning towards burlap or sleeves, though a combo of paint and material isn't a bad idea either.

Yeah, I've floated this spot in the toon a few times, but never in the dark. I'll get a few of those trips under my belt before hunting season. I'll most likely be alone, so I never meant to get to far from shore to begin with. I've never popped a toon, but I can't imagine Scaddens warranty will make me feel any better if I do.

Keep your eyes on the papers. If something goes wrong, you'll get to read a knuckleheads story and learn of a new huntin' spot!

Vladimir Steblina

Retired fishing instead of working
I was very nervous about puncturing a pontoon and becoming stranded.

If you have a special spot that you know well and feel confident that you are safe before going in the early morning darkness, a pontoon should work. However, a punctured pontoon in darkness wearing duck hunting gear is a recipe for disaster. I chose to get a duck boat. More costly, less dangerous.
I lost a friend that drowned using a duck boat setting up decoys for a hunt with friends that were to show up later.

When I was hunting with him he was wearing seal-dri waders and I was wearing Red-Ball Super Tough waders. I told him I was done hunting with the Red Ball waders and was switching to neoprene waders. I told him about was getting more concerned about survival than cost of waders.

It was an expensive choice 20 years ago, but you actually float with neoprene waders. I put them on and jumped into my swimming pool just to make sure. Duck hunting on large rivers and lakes is probably one of the most dangerous things we do outdoors.

I would also get one of those automatic inflate suspenders.
I usually have a vest, but don't wear it... I know that's stupid. I like to think that in the dark and during duck season, I'll be smarter than that.

I've been warned against using the inflatable vest/collars. I know a few that believe "hoping" it'll inflate isn't worth the risk. I've got a low profile life vest I wear that I think will be nice for hunting. Its bulky around the body, but there's no foam around the shoulders; should be nice for shouldering a gun.

Probably a subject for another thread, but any thoughts?

Vladimir Steblina

Retired fishing instead of working
The inflatable works. Well, at least it did for a friend when his wife fell in the drink. The advantage is that you wear them.

For duck hunting.....neoprene waders. Put on a pair and jump into a swimming pool with them. I learned a lot.

You want to experience that panic before you have to experience that panic for real.