Every late August, as the sun's bright summer light gives way to autumn's golden glow, I start to get that little nudge that says "hunting season is right around the corner."
That leads to all manner of preparation in order to be ready for late September...this year is no different.
Last year it was all about building a new deer hunting shotgun and fixing up an old 12' x 12' canvas tent to set up deer camp on the farm. This year I finally decided I had enough of dragging a 10' jon boat through 200 yards of thick cattails and muskrat runs to get to my secret duck pond. I've always wanted a sleek little duck boat and this year is the year I would finally get one.
I've obsessed about this particular boat since I was 17.
There were always better to spend $910.00 (plus shipping) on. Not that it's a kingly sum by any means, but when my last boat cost $150 and got me through a solid 15+ years of duck hunting, it seemed a little steep.
So, I found a used one on Craigslist. $550, never shot out of, the seller said. Mainly used as a boat "to tow behind my big boat for setting decoys out of."
OK, I thought, I'll take the plunge.
I drove up to the little hamlet of Columbus Township to pick up my (new to me) Carsten's Pintail. After a little chat about changing flyways we had the thirteen foot boat upside down on the top of my Jeep and strapped down. I gave the boat the hairy eyeball and it didn't look too bad. It looked all of its twelve years of age, nothing, I thought, that a little TLC wouldn't fix.
A quick note about the little handle on Jeep Wrangler's hoods. They are not cargo tie down points.
I got it home and asked my girlfriend to help me get it off the top of the Jeep's roof. She looked a little amused as I struggled to keep it from rolling off the top of the Jeep and onto the driveway. Turns out it's more of a one person ballet. I dragged it to the back of the shack, set it up on sawhorses and then really gave it a looking over.
It was at this point that my girlfriend suggested that maybe I should have negotiated a little more instead of just handing over the $550.
Yes, there are some scratches...I have no idea how ALL the rivets are sheared off...yes, the gel coat is spiderwebbed in spots. But the hull is solid, I maintained, giving it a little tap with my knuckle, despite this giant gap between the deck and the hull. Yes, I have a little work to do...
I put an email in to Carsten's regarding the rivets. I don't know what they do or if they need to be replaced. I will say that since this boat was probably outside all year for twelve years, it's in pretty decent shape. The design is really nice, too. Well thought out. Carsten's does make a fine product.
I'm guessing that by the time this is finished, I will have spent at least as much on the used boat, supplies and in my time to far surpass what I would have spent on a new boat. I also feel a little bad for not giving my money to a storied Minnesota, USA company - but I'm undertaking this because it's good for a man to have projects and this will give me the opportunity right out of the box to make the boat my own (and I still need the extra seat and gun rack from Carsten's, so they'll be getting a little dough out of me at least).
Hopefully at the end of the day, the good folks at Carsten's will be proud that one of their little boats is still going to be on the water.
We'll see how it goes!