Jennings Rose launched his 18-foot boat from a private ramp near Hobucken, N.C., with a smaller boat — a one-man layout boat — strapped securely to its bouncing bow. Nosing into the wind, he left the protective waters of a small creek, heading into Pamlico Sound for a day of duck hunting.
“Ramps are all around the sound — private ramps, pay ramps and public ramps,” Rose said. “What you have to do is hunt where you can find the ducks and pick the closest ramp for access to them.”
Rose operates North State Guide Service. out of Oriental, N.C. While he hunts from stationary blinds and scissor-rig boat blinds, he also has great success while hunting from layout boats.
“It is the best way to hunt ducks that are decoy-shy and wary of anything that sticks up out of the water,” he said. “It also gives you access to a lot more water, with the laws in various counties surrounding the sound specifying distances you can hunt from any shore blinds.”
Rose hunts water that runs from 12 to 20 feet deep. His primary target is sea ducks, mainly surf scoters and black or American scoters. Other sea ducks his clients may take on occasion include white-winged scoters and long-tailed ducks.
“I set out scoter decoys and a few hand-made wooden bufflehead decoys,” he said. “With layout boats, I target sea ducks, which feed on the clam beds, but I might decoy any other duck with a sea duck rig. Divers like bluebills, redheads and canvasbacks can fly right in. Even puddle ducks will decoy to a sea duck spread, so you might kill a pintail or gadwall at any time.”
The secret is the low profile of a layout boat, which makes it blend into the water. While some