The History of Big Alum Lake
DUCK BOAT AT THE LAKE
Information and pictures provided by John Puffer
|Duck hunting boats are designed to maneuver in shallow water environments,
Their slick, dish-shaped bottoms with no keels allow the boats to pass through
timber laden swamps and narrow ditches and to glide through tangled grass
or over ice. The boat pictured above is a "Get There" Duck Boat,
manufactured by W.H.Mullins of Salem, Ohio, and owned by John Puffer's family.
The boat was in the Puffer family for over fifty years. John wrote,
"It came to us as a forgotten piece of equipment tucked underneath a lake
cottage we purchased in Sturbridge, Massachusetts way back in 1946."
||The boat appears to be made of tin, and is fourteen feet long with a
thirty-six inch beam. It weighs seventy pounds and its original color
was "Dead Grass." Its date of manufacture is estimated to be around
1900. One of the options available for the "Get There" boat was Allen's
Bow Facing Oars. A quote from a Mullins brochure: "Invaluable
in duck shooting as you see the bird the instant it leaves the water; are
perfectly silent as they are attached to the boat by ball and socket joint
with attachments to take up lost motion. No stiff necks, no lame backs,
no running ashore or crashing into obstructions."
|John noted, "The most interesting aspect about the boat is the oar system.
Each oar consists of a two-part wooden portion with a metal double-jointed
elbowed section in the middle. As you pull the oar handles, the oar
paddle actually is pulled back as well, causing a forward motion of the boat.
Thus the rower travels in the same direction as he/she is facing, which
is the opposite of a normal oar driven vessel."
||The "Get There" Duck Boat is light-weight and durable. At either end
is a large air chamber, which contributes to the buoyancy and stability of
the boat. The layout provides maximum storage capacity for dogs, decoys,
and hunting equipment. The chambers also are sufficient in size to
float four men on the upturned boat should it happen to capsize.
|In 2002, John traveled to Salem, Ohio with his duck boat and made an
agreement with the Mullins Boat Club president that the Club would maintain
it and display it at meets and other gatherings in order to share it with
other interested folks. In 2007, John transferred ownership to a gentleman
from California who planned to restore the duck boat and use it in a period
display as part of his RV history project.