Kara Hummer Layout Duck Hunting Boat

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Project by DustyMark posted 11-28-2015 06:41 PM 15834 views 4 times favorited 18 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

18 comments so far

View BurlyBob's profile


9009 posts in 3386 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 2041 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


476 posts in 2230 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!

-- Seeing is believing.

View DustyMark's profile


518 posts in 3190 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

26301 posts in 4226 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!!

View MarkyMark7491's profile


1 post in 1419 days

#6 posted 08-01-2017 06:59 PM


Great build! I am about to start one myself and have read your blog about 5 times and it will be very helpful in this project.

I do have one question…how is the boat holding up after putting epoxy on the inside? I have read many conflicting opinions on putting epoxy on the inside.

I appreciate the feed back.


Mark J

View DustyMark's profile


518 posts in 3190 days

#7 posted 08-02-2017 12:05 PM

Thanks! The boat is holding up great with the epoxy interior coating. It sat outside uncovered part of the summer and I just pump it out with the 12-volt bilge pump when it gets water in it. I plan to build a cover for it soon since it recently was displaced from the garage by a new kayak.

The extra epoxy adds quite a bit of weight though. If you’re going for light weight, you might consider not using epoxy on the deck at all (top or bottom.) Our boats weigh in at a “portly” 120 pounds each. I’d recommend epoxying the hull inside and out though since these boats will always be wet when hunting.

-- Mark, Minnesota

View NEIrishJohn's profile


3 posts in 1407 days

#8 posted 08-13-2017 12:01 AM

Mark, awesome boat you built!!!! Recently got my hands on a similar boat and I’m trying to fabricate some flip top doors similar to the ones you have. I’m having trouble finding the hinge you used to slot your crossbar into, along with the connectors that you used for the ends of your condiut (and the metal pieces that lock them in place)
Any chance you can share where you got them from?

View DustyMark's profile


518 posts in 3190 days

#9 posted 08-13-2017 01:53 AM

Thanks! I ordered these items from Sailrite Kits. Here are links to the nylon hinge , the nylon end tips, and the quick release clevis pin. I drilled through the hinge to allow the clevis pin to fit. The end tips are available in 3/4” or 7/8” diameter and you might have to fit them a bit, but they’re pretty easy to shave down. Hope this helps!

-- Mark, Minnesota

View NEIrishJohn's profile


3 posts in 1407 days

#10 posted 08-13-2017 03:28 AM

Awesome help!!!!! The only other item I’m struggling finding is the bracket that the aluminum crossbar sits on. Can’t find anything similar to that at all anywhere I’ve looked.

View NEIrishJohn's profile


3 posts in 1407 days

#11 posted 08-13-2017 06:19 AM

Also,what do you do with the blind doors while rowing out to your spot?

View DustyMark's profile


518 posts in 3190 days

#12 posted 08-13-2017 02:42 PM

The crossbar bracket is aluminum angle that I cut into three different pieces and formed into the bracket. Look at the photos from part 14 of my blog for a closer view. I started with the base piece that supports the crossbar and fastened it with two screws in a horizontal position. I then mounted two pieces vertically that hold the bar in place on top of the base piece. Drill holes through the vertical pieces to hold your clevis pins. I rounded the pieces with a file so that I don’t tear a hole in my waders!

The doors and other blind parts are stored on the floor behind me and the decoy bags are stacked on top of them. I assemble the blind after tossing out the decoys. The decoy bags are stored behind me and the dog ends up laying on those while we hunt.

Occasionally, I row out to my spot with the doors and blind fully assembled. The dog rides on the rear deck with the dog blind door zipped open and all the decoys are stuffed, in bundles of six, in the dog blind and on the floor in front of my feet. This makes for a very rapid set-up in the morning. The raffia grass on the flip blind doors drags in the water just a bit, but not excessively. I attached a second oar lock mount, closer to the bow, for these occasions and the boat is in a more neutral trim in this situation. Waves can more easily enter the boat if the boat isn’t trimmed stern heavy, but it’s fine to waves approaching a foot.

Hunting from a reclined position leaves huge (90 degrees behind you) blind spots as you scan for ducks. Last year we built blinds from fast grass and began to sit in the boats in locations where the ducks might fly in from any direction. The blind materials store on the floor and I stack the decoys on top of it similar to the layout blind. The frame is simple 1” x 2” white pine with aluminum angle brackets, clevis pins, and custom formed aluminum pockets in the inside corners of the cockpit.

I put my heavier bass boat floor in late in the season and sat in my fishing seat for those occasions and it was super comfortable and effective. I don’t think my brother will use his as a true layout boat much anymore. I’ll use it both ways dependent on what location I plan to hunt…

-- Mark, Minnesota

View Bob Smith's profile

Bob Smith

2 posts in 816 days

#13 posted 03-27-2019 07:06 PM

Hi. I built a punt much like your’s 45 yrs. ago and have hunted it ever since. I like the look of your construction and would like to build one——do you have plans for your punt and if so could I get a copy?

View DustyMark's profile


518 posts in 3190 days

#14 posted 03-28-2019 10:16 PM

Thanks, If you search for Kara Hummer, you’ll find the gentleman who sells the plans for $30 plus $5 shipping. His instruction book is included and it’s very helpful. I’m selling my layout boat since I devised a super comfy blind for my Grumman Sportboat that I row or mud motor, depending on the lake. I’m also sewing a blind for my solo canoe to get into spots without a boat ramp…it won’t be nearly as stable or low, but 100 pounds lighter!

-- Mark, Minnesota

View Bob Smith's profile

Bob Smith

2 posts in 816 days

#15 posted 03-29-2019 06:25 PM

Found it—-thanks Dusty.

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