KENYON HILL PUTS ON THE CAMO
Story and photos by Matt Pangrac
Norman, OK – When The BASS ZONE last ran a feature on Kenyon Hill back in January, he was on the verge of beginning his 27th season as a professional angler. At the time, Hill said his decision to continue his career was on a “year-to-year” basis.
“The satisfaction for me is how good I can personally be and what I can accomplish by the sweat of my own brow,” he stated in the article. “It’s not a ‘win at any cost’ situation. You either live with it or you quit playing it, and right now it’s a toss-up for me.”
The 2012 Elite Series season was not kind to the Oklahoma pro, who cashed just a single check with a 43rd place finish on Douglas Lake. As a result, he finished the year in 95th place in the Toyota Tundra Angler Of the Year point standings.
“It was a terrible year for me,” Hill candidly stated. “I think that I probably could have caught more fish accidentally than I did actually trying to catch them. I really don’t know why it happened, but it was just one of those deals and I have to move on.”
Despite the poor performance in 2012, Hill said that he has committed to fishing the Elite Series in 2013 and is looking forward to getting back on track. “I still love to compete,” he explained. “There’s kind of a fog around professional bass fishing right now that I don’t really like, but I guess that’s just the nature of the beast.
“To be honest, I don’t know what I’d do during the season if I wasn’t fishing,” Hill continued. “With all those things combined, I decided to try it another year.” Hill said that he recently made the decision to come back in 2013, but actually had to wait to see if he would have the opportunity. “Because of my poor finish, I had to wait for B.A.S.S. to call and invite me back,” he said.
With over five months before the 2013 Elite Series season kicks off on the Sabine River in Texas, Hill, like many other professional anglers, has hunting on his mind at the moment. One of his passions is duck hunting, and he has taken it to the next level with a one-of-a-kind duck boat.
“I really enjoy duck hunting the most because there’s so much to it,” said Hill. “The preparation is fun, the set of the decoys, the kinds of ducks – there are a lot of different facets to it. It’s also a great way to spend time with friends.”
Hill said that there are a lot of parallels between duck hunting and tournament fishing. “First of all, you have to make sure that all your equipment is ready to go. Then you have to do your homework. The ducks migrate, so you have to figure out where they’re going to be. Water level is important, because low water levels aren’t really conducive to good duck hunting and it’s harder to hunt them. There really are a lot of similarities with tournament fishing.”
This weekend, Hill is christening his newest creation. “I’ve put together a couple of duck boats in the past, as we were taking boats that weren’t designed to be duck boats and trying to turn them in to duck boats. I went and had this one complete custom built from sheets of aluminum. It’s 18’ long and 66” wide. It’s a completely flat bottomed boat that is designed exclusively for duck hunting.”
Powering the duck boat are twin Pro-Drive Mud Motors. The 35 hp Briggs and Stratton Vanguard engines are air cooled, allowing the boat to virtually run in muck. “With the Pro-Drive, you can actually rotate the unit 180-degrees and have full power reverse,” said Hill. “That is one of the features that I really like because I don’t ever have to worry about getting stuck without the ability to back up.”
Hill didn’t compromise with electronics, as his duck rig features a Lowrance HDS 10. “For the past three years I’ve used GPS mapping on my duck boats, and it has made all the difference in the world. When you’re trying to find your spot in the dark, it takes all the guessing out of the equation. All you have to do is pull up to the little blue dot on the screen and you know that you’re in the right place.”
Perhaps one of the coolest features is two camouflaged Power-Poles. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen another duck boat with Power-Poles, but after fishing with them, it just made all the sense in the world to add them to a duck boat. By putting one forward and aft, it really locks the boat in position and will also allow me to hunt in water that is too deep to wade. I can just Power-Pole down and throw out my decoys, and then move a little bit and repeat the process.”
The interior of the boat also features two 15,000 BTU heaters that are connected to a propane bottle that is camouflaged and attached to the back of the boat. Hill also added a stovetop in the boat for early morning bacon and eggs.
“I’ve really tried to make it as comfortable as possible,” he explained. There are a lot of days that you have to be out there for a while. I’ve spent my share of days sitting on the bank freezing my toes off. Now, we can just fire up the heaters. It’s all about adding to the whole experience of spending time with your buddies.”
Hill said that from concept to realization, there have been countless hours preparing for the first hunt. From the blind, to the two 1,000 GPH bilge pumps, to the location of the Power-Poles, to the storage compartments, to the trailer ladder for easy access - Hill carefully thought out every possible feature.
“I just wanted to do things right,” he explained. “I’m in a position in my life where I can afford to do things in a way that makes things super comfortable. I hunt all public water, and I can put out a pretty powerful looking spread with this rig. I know that I’ll be able to bring the ducks in when there are other hunters on the water.”
Duck season opens this weekend in Oklahoma, but Hill is headed to Nebraska for his first duck hunt of the year. “Who knows where we will end up, though,” he laughed. “I’d say that I get just as excited for opening day of duck season as I do for the first Elite Series tournament of the year.”
Addie, Hill’s four-year-old chocolate lab, is entering her second full season. “She’s a really good retriever. She’s not competition class, but I didn’t want one that was competition class because they’re like Cyborgs. I wanted a dog that was just as much of a buddy as anything else.”