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I'm looking to buy my first mud boat but I'm not sure exactly what to look for. I would mainly use it for duck hunting in the marsh and am looking to buy a used gator tail with a tiller motor in the 15k range. Does anyone have any specific recommendations of what I should look for as far as: different models, hull size, engine size, or any other red flags to keep in mind while searching the used market. What is a lot of hours for these motors? Should I be weary of aftermarket work done? Any info would be much appreciated.
 

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are you looking to buy a gator tail hull or gatortail mud motor specifically? or any surface drive with some sort of hunting/ mud hull?

red flags for myself are major dents/ damage to the hull along with the usual "no title" stuff you find for sale.

Can't tell you what to look for specific to you, as you'll probably use the boat differently than I would. I too am looking for a mud/ hunting boat, and one of the biggest things I look for is the US coast guard placard saying the boat can hold 4 people. many mud hulls due to higher HP ratings, thicker bottom metal and heavy additional decks and interiors often have a 3 person capacity/ lower weight rating. I also look for an all welded hull with a small/ short front deck and the most open floor plan as possible. That makes for more room when it comes to hauling decoys, gear, and hunting buddies and dogs. personally I'm looking for a 16-17' boat that is at least 50" across the floor, preferably 54-56" as I will also be using mine in bigger lakes and on the Missouri river. Also things like a hunt deck and steps on the back of the boat to get in while hunting make things much nicer. But if you ever run timber you may want a shorter and more narrow boat for better turning and maneuverability in tight quarters.

What is your mechanical ability? That determines how scared you should be of hours and mods. if you can perform your own basic oil changes, and stuff like changing the belt and props with some basic electric trouble shooting you'll be fine. In general all the name brand surface drive motors use the exact same engines. And they are quite reliable in stock form and not unheard of for people to get 1000+ hrs out of them before any major repairs.

with your budget you're probably going to be looking at lightly used but older carbureted 35-37hp surface drive with a 16-18' hull and some 40hp EFI models, but more than likely with a few hundred hours on them. and likely on a more run of the mill hull like a Lowe, war eagle, aluma craft, alweld, etc. vs a hull that is more hunting and surface drive specific like a Havoc, Edge, gator tail, prodrive, etc. Also look up the specs of the hull you're looking at. most mud specific hulls have a .100 or .125 gauge bottom metal. So a cheaper hull will have .80 or .90 and that should dictate a lower price. as well a rivited jon boat with the seats all the way across somebody just put a mud motor on will also drive down the price IMO.
 

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I'm looking to buy my first mud boat but I'm not sure exactly what to look for. Any info would be much appreciated.
Yes, seek the council of someone who has experience with boats, duck boats in particular, and mudboats specifically.
Not talking about asking questions on the forums, talking about someone who knows these boats and can accompany you to inspect any you are considering.
Good luck, and let us know what you find.
 
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