Duck hunting from dories? : LUSENET : Open-water rowing : One Thread

While searching for a suitable boat for traditonal duck hunting I came across your excellent site. My question is about the stability of the dory -- I do most of my hunthig in late November thru January and can't afford even one swim -- my diver duck hunting is mainly taking place on Lake St. Clair (MI) and Sandusky Bay and open waters of Lake Erie (OH), both of these Lakes are very shallow and waves build quickly and are very close spaced when the wind kicks up. What type of dory do the participants of this site recommend? My initial thought is a 17'-20' drift boat but don't know how well it will cover the water with me on the oars. I've also looked at a modified Alaskan Dory. Help!

-- Jim Rehl (, July 06, 2000



Have you looked at New England Gunning Dories? They we built for use where I live (Salem, MA) in the islands off the coast. It can get pretty choppy out there so I am very sure they are seaworthy. Personally I have no experience in them but I have a freind who built one and rows regularly. If you like I can pass your e-mail address on to him.

-- Tom Hunter (, July 07, 2000.

The Gunning Dory, mentioned by Tom Hunter, is indeed a marvelously seaworthy boat. I crossed the Bay of Fundy and rowed many hundreds of miles elsewhere in one, and it never worried me. While, like most dories, it does not have great initial stability, stability increases quickly as itheels.

A 16' fiberglass version used to be made by Roger Crawford in Marshfield, MA (781-783-73666). It won the first two Oarmaster Trials in 1989 and 1990, not so much because of its speed (it has a short waterline) but because of its ease of handling in crosswinds. Roger is doing well making Melondseeds, but we should try to pressure him into bringing the gunning dory back into production.

-- David Stookey (, July 07, 2000.

Dear Jim,

Before you buy any rowing craft for duck hunting I suggest you try it out first. I would also suggest you take your shotgun along when you do. I don't hunt much anymore, but I have rowed some of the boats mentioned above. All are very seaworthy and some give a satisfying, if not exhilarating, turn of speed, but some of them are so tender that it should make one wonder what the builders were thinking when they called them gunning skiffs. Lake St. Clair is a large, shallow body that can get quite choppy and carries a fair amount of commercial traffic so you're going to need a good boat. If I were going to shoot ducks there I would look at something that rowed well, had good initial stability and had a smooth, progressive motion in the roll plane. Good candidates to consider are the Rangeley Lakes Boat and the St. Lawrence Skiff and similar types. Dories are OK if that's all you can get, but if you can afford better, you probably should go for it.


Andre de Bardelaben

-- Andre de Bardelaben (, July 07, 2000.

I've hunted for years out of an Alden Appledore , best rowed fixed seat. I put a 75 pound weight in the stern and my Irish Water Spaniel in the bow. A little hairy but I've never had a problem.

-- Martin Dodd (, August 02, 2000.

Dear Captncork: I posted a question on the open-water forum earlier this summer about a boat to hunt open water ducks and sea ducks from. Most of the responses that I received pointed me to boats that are lower freeboard than I wanted and with little initial stability. I just purchased the open-water rowers boat guide and like the looks of the Assay Surfboat. Could you stand in the boat comfortably without going for a swim? How do you rate the boats ability to cover water with one rower? (compared to other larger stable boats). I prefer trailering my boats because of the amount of equipment that I haul so that is not a negative for me. Thanks, Jim

Jim, how are you? Yes, the Assay is an amazing boat. I just rowed mine 73 miles from S. Florida to Bimini Island in the Bahamas....BUT, if you think you're going to stand up in it and even cough, you are very mistaken! The Assay surfboat was designed to be self-bailing with several holes cut all around the boat just barely above the waterline. To keep the wave water draining out, they raised the deck making the center of gravity rather high, and the boat very tipsy. The Van Duyne surfboat however (also made in New Jersey) does not have a raised deck and is much more stable. It is the same size and weight of the Assay, and pretty much the same price. The boats draw no water allowing you to go pretty much anywhere. The freeboard is an issue as soon as the wind blows 7 knots and up. Yes it handles swells, chop and waves like a champ, but you have to really work at it in wind, and being caught several miles out with the wind against you will make you late for dinner. Really late. These boats are highly effected by surface conditions (wind and chop) because they have so little under the waterline. This also makes them unstable while standing. Personally, I wouldn't trade mine for the world, but you're purpose would be for popping unsuspecting little birds by standing up and shooting them. Yeah, yeah, the Assay is the perfect boat for you Jim! Good luc

-- Cork Friedman (, September 08, 2000.

Just an F.Y.I. I took my son on his first duck hunting trip last Friday. We each got a black duck hunting behind Sampson Island in Pleasant Bay Orleans,Massachusetts. We snuck up on the ducks in a wooden whitehall, no camo paint, white with bright work. It's going by oars that I think makes the difference not so much the boat. On the row back we were going into a 15 knot northwest head wind. Nice to have a boat with a little weight to it. By the way one of the most sucessful goose hunters in the state lives and hunts from Orleans.He is so sucessful the Fish and Game folks asked him about it acouple of years ago. His secret was hunting from his Alden and sculling to t

-- barry Donahue (, December 09, 2000.

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