Jon Boats

Returning to the lodge in a large jon boat after a good hunt near Lake Charles, LA.

Jon boats or basic aluminum boats are one of the most common types of fishing and hunting boats. There are many positive features to these boats that make them smart choices for duck hunters.

1. They are are relatively inexpensive. You can get a basic 12-foot flat-bottomed aluminum boat for about $600 in many places. A motor, of course, will be extra. Bigger boats run a few thousand dollars.

2. They are easy to maneuver in the water so you may or may not need a motor. If you are hunting a small body of water, a paddle or push pole may be all you need. Or you perhaps can get by with a trolling motor. I like to hunt with as little gear as possible, so I've used jon boats with trolling motors and/or paddles on lots of small water bodies. If you hunt bigger water bodies, then a bigger boat with an outboard motor will be more useful to you.

3. They come in varying lengths - some as short as 8 feet - so you may not even need a trailer to haul these boats if you have a pick-up truck bed, or gear racks on your vehicle roof. Larger boats will require a trailer.

My 8-ft jon boat in the truck bed.

4. They are easy to store. Many of the basic ones can be leaned on their sides against a garage wall, hung from hooks mounted on the wall, or turned upside down on two sawhorses. Larger, more sophisticated boats will require a trailer for storage.

5. They are easy to customize for hunting. A few cans of brown, green and black paint will camoflauge your entire boat. Spray it one day and be ready to hunt the next.

6. They can be converted to a blind easily. Quack grass or camo netting can be stretched around them with some easy-to-install mounts around the boat. Or, secure the boat at the shoreline amidst natural cover. Just be careful when shooting from a floating boat/blind. Depending on the boat, your stability in the water can be seriously compromised. If shooting on the water, ALWAYS wear a life jacket.

7. They are durable. Sure, if you run them hard into sharp rocks, they can be punctured. But, these boats are made of strong metal and have welded seals. They can take a fair amount of abuse without being damaged.

8. They are multi-purpose boats. Fish in them comfortably during the off-season, or just take the kids and the dogs trolling around a nearby lake or pond. A simple boat like this can serve lots of purposes for a family who likes the outdoors.

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