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The New Jersey
Sneak Box

Shore Bird Hunting in New Jersey

The New Jersey Sneak Box

The sneak box is a small boat commonly used for hunting that can be sailed, rowed, poled or sculled (also known as feathering the oars, sculling is a method of using oars to propel watercraft in which the oar or oars touch the water on both the port and starboard sides of the craft, or over the stern.)

Mostly associated with the Barnegat bay, the sneak box is usually built of white cedar. It is a low-profiled, lightweight, hunting boat that can easily be handled by 1 man in many weather conditions seen in the Jersey marshes.

Though not really known or well-documented, it is generally accepted that the first sneak box was created by Captain Hazelton Seaman from West Creek New Jersey, in about 1836.

While preparing to hunt, the hunter would load the back of the sneak box with decoys and sit in the middle of the boat. The decoys, which were racked neatly against the washboards in the boat were often attached to each other by a rope or strong string and most had weights on the bottom of them.

The hunter would row the boat, lower a jab board to stick it in the mud below the boat to hold the sneak box in place, and throw the decoys off the back to set them out. This process would continue until the hunter had all decoys set out for the days hunt.

The hunter would then pull or row the sneak back into the bank or high reeds and raise a spray shield that would keep the cold winds and other inclement weather away and also hide them from the waterfowl decoying. They would then sit in the sneak box to hunt.

To retrieve the decoys, the process would again repeat, this time rowing, stopping, and lowering the jab board, rowing, stopping, and lowering the jab board, etc. to pull in the decoys until all decoys were in the boat.

In this article you will review the schematics of a sneak box and view how the hunter might hunt from it.

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