Kara Hummer Layout Duck Hunting Boat

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Project by DustyMark posted 11-28-2015 06:41 PM 1964 views 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Boat

A layout boat is designed to hunt waterfowl from a comfortable, reclined position that is very difficult for ducks to detect. I built three of these 14’ layout boats over the summer from plans. See my blog for details about the boat and the build. These boats are very low profile at about 12” total height without the blinds. At 45” wide, they’re extremely stable. They came in at a heavy 160 pounds since I fiberglassed and epoxied all the surfaces to include the undersides of the plywood.

The Build

I used clear white pine boards from Menards for the framework and Douglas fir marine grade 1/4” plywood for the skin.

All surfaces were coated with fiberglass and epoxy to make them waterproof and durable.

White oak runners, covered with aluminum, provide better tracking and protect the hull during launch and recovery. We used UHMW plastic on the last two boats to cover the runners and it slides much better.

Fitting Out the Boat

Building the boat was probably about half of the total work effort. A lot of work went into customizing and fitting out the boats for our application. I installed 12 volt bilge pumps to pump out any water that might enter the boat on particularly windy days. We never needed them this season.

We installed anchor pole sleeves at the bow and the stern. We run wood anchor poles through these into the lake bottom to hold our position while hunting. This is critical when we’re rafted up within inches of each other and begin shooting!

Here’s a view of the boat with all the covers and blinds installed. The flip blind door frames and the dog blind frame are made of 3/4” aluminum tubing. All of the parts for the blinds drop into place, are buckled, or are pinned using either PTO pins, or spring loaded push pins through bimini fittings. This makes assembly and disassembly as easy as possible. No matter how well thought out the system is, it still takes an extra 10 minutes to set up each morning.

I eventually sewed brushing straps on the bow and stern panels and the dog blind. All of these covers are brushed out with either natural vegetation or artificial Rafia grass to match the hunting location.

A lot of trial and error went into the ergonomics of the layout board. I thought we’d nailed it pretty good…

However, we soon realized that we needed even more neck support to more easily scan for ducks. I sewed pillows for each of us and that made these boats super comfortable. Notice the Sailrite Kits Ultrafeed sewing machine that I used to do all the sewing for the three boats…it rocks!

They’re extremely heavy to tow into the more remote lakes we hunt. I built a cart for each boat. They don’t work well in the mud, but I plan to add another set of wheels to see if they tow better through the mud. I bought a used solo canoe to get to the lakes that require a rough/wet portage.

I modified my utility trailer to use as a boat trailer. Using the cart, I never have to lift more than one end of the boat at a time.

Hunting Performance

I thought these boats were going to make us “Superman” as we built them. They didn’t make us invincible, but they definitely have their place in the duck boat inventory.

This is a view of the bow of the boat packed for hunting. I eventually realized that the layout board made a good back rest while rowing and felt better than the bills of duck decoys sticking into my back! I carpeted the stern deck and the dog rides there on the way out and back. The entire rig weighs in at over 550 pounds in hunting mode including the boat, dog, me, and all the gear. The oars I built work great to propel this beast through even heavy rice.

If you do a good job of matching the vegetation, these boats prove deadly even on the wariest of ducks. We have more options of where we can set up because our profile is so low. My nephew doesn’t have a dog blind installed on his boat, so his is even lower.

My dog is only 56 pounds and I was able to make the dog blind quite small for him.

My brother and I shot our limit of diver ducks on this hunt.

Final Thoughts

These layout boats are awesome. I can’t believe how stable they are. We can stand anywhere in the cockpit and not worry about stability. I stand up to throw out decoys and even shoot cripples.

They row well. Perhaps the biggest advantage of building a layout boat over buying a high-end production fiberglass model is the strength of the wood cockpit frame. I’m convinced we would break the cockpit edges if we were to install oarlocks on a production boat and try to row it through heavy rice.

My wife and I discovered that they make great fishing boats on the smaller lakes in our area. I built a 3/4” plywood floor and added bass boat pedestal bases to it. With adjustable bass boat seats installed, we can fish for hours in comfort. My wife caught a 5# largemouth bass last summer from the layout boat.

-- Mark, Minnesota

5 comments so far

View BurlyBob's profile


3468 posts in 1686 days

#1 posted 11-28-2015 08:11 PM

Mark, I absolutely love your boat.

View Marc Craig's profile

Marc Craig

20 posts in 341 days

#2 posted 11-28-2015 10:05 PM

Ilove this boat! How deep of water do you hunt? I use my kayak to hunt those samll ponds. Great looking boat and looks like it works well out there.

-- "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing" TR #26

View observer100's profile


233 posts in 531 days

#3 posted 11-28-2015 10:20 PM

How very interesting! I have never seen this type of project in the past. Thanks for posting!

View DustyMark's profile


342 posts in 1491 days

#4 posted 11-28-2015 10:31 PM

Thanks! The biggest lake we hunt is 2 miles long and perhaps 20’ deep. We hunt from vegetation cover near shore to remain legal and typically we’re anchored with a pole in 6’ or less of water.

-- Mark, Minnesota

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16801 posts in 2526 days

#5 posted 11-29-2015 03:00 AM

Real neat boat, Mark. It is very versatile!
I built a hovercraft back in ‘88 and it weighed in at 880# with the two motors on it. I did kind of the same thing with skinning it with fiberglass and I used West System epoxy.

Nice explanation of the build and use of it…............Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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