Howdy folks -- I could use some help designing a blind for a whitewater raft. I’ve been duck hunting for two decades, built plenty of boat blinds, but not sure what to do with this one. Any ideas are much appreciated. The main issue is that to paddle and get down the river, you have to sit on the edge of the raft, which makes fixing pvc or alum tubing for a typical pop up a bit of an issue. I used to be a whitewater guide so down at the bottom of this post I’ll answer some common questions/misconceptions about rafts that I found here in the forums in old posts.
ABOUT THE RAFT
I’m looking at a two man like this one, about 11ft long and 5 ft wide. Keep in mind…this is a $2000+ whitewater raft, not a cheap plastic Walmart version. Just a heads up, if you try taking a cheap plastic version down a river you’re going to get yourself killed.
Generally how you sit in it to padde:
Questions/Misconceptions About Hunting From A Raft
-- Disclaimer: I’ve never actually duck hunted from a raft. I’ve duck hunted for a long time and guided class V whitewater, and hunted from my whitewater kayak, so I might know a bit about how it could work (or could go very badly, including drowning yourself).
-- Rivers can be very dangerous, especially in cold weather. If you don’t know what you’re doing, but want to start trying to hunt a local river, I’d first highly recommend hooking up with a local whitewater paddling group/club and learning how to run whitewater. After you can guide a raft down class III+ whitewater, hunting a class II river won’t be an issue.
-- When would a whitewater raft be a good choice for duck hunting? Really I can only think of one situation, and that’s small-ish rivers with more than class I whitewater. That’s what I find myself wanting to hunt now. Big rivers like the Arkansas (my old stomping grounds), an 18ft+ jon is a better option in my opinion. Creeks and small rivers that don’t have whitewater, a canoe or small jon is a better option. A raft could be helpful for ponds and lakes in some cases I guess.
-- Whitewater raft vs. cheap Walmart raft. Ok --- these are VERY VERY different things. A two man whitewater raft like the one above, new, is going to cost well over $1000. Larger 14ft+ rafts are several thousand dollars. AIRE and SOTAR are two big manufacturers of real whitewater rafts. Do not ever, ever take a cheap plastic raft on whitewater, you will be swimming.
-- Whitewater rafts are extremely durable. They’re designed for class V whitewater (the Grand Canyon, Gauley River, etc), razor sharp rocks, brutal hits against rocks. Cold weather will not cause the air in the tubes to cool and deflate (this was the funniest misconception I read in old forum topics). Here in Oregon we run whitewater all year, in dry suits when it’s 0 degrees F with snow everywhere, generally you carry a little hand pump to add a bit of air if the tubes get a little soft. Yes your shotgun will easily blow a hole through them. I personally feel much safer on small-ish rivers with class II or III whitewater in a raft than I ever would in a jon boat, without a doubt, and even safer than in a dory or drift boat. I’m sure drift boaters will disagree ;)
-- Stability depends on the particular raft. My two man raft isn’t extremely stable if two adult men jump up and start blasting away. It isn’t going to flip by any means, but it rocks a bit. We’ll be shooting from a sitting position. Large 14ft+ rafts have similar, usually better, stability than jon boats.
-- Overall, hunting from a raft on small-ish rivers could be very very productive. Mainly because you can get to places other people can’t. I know this having never hunted from a raft because I’ve hunted from my whitewater kayak and done really well.
Nobody cares about your season totals. Especially if you pay to hunt private.