The Coolest Airboat Ever


“I’m going to kill him,” I thought to myself when Travis “T-Bone” Turner, co-host of the Bone Collector TV show, told me over the phone he forgot he was supposed to meet me for a night of bowfishing.

“Was that today?” he asked.

“Um, yes,” I replied sternly. During our phone conversation, I looked up to see a man wearing only his underwear walk out onto the hotel balcony nearby. He stood there overlooking the parking lot where I was waiting at Logan Martin Lake and proceeded to guzzle a beer. T-Bone's phone call and the underwear-clad man instantly dampened my spirits.

“My bad, I thought it was tomorrow,” T-Bone said.

“What?!?!?’” I exclaimed. Sensing the tension in my voice, he laughed and said, “I’m just kidding. We’ll be there in a minute.”

With his confession, I breathed a sigh of relief, and as I watched the half-naked man finish his beer, turn and walk back into his room, I felt my spirits lift.  

When I saw the airboat that his good friend Tommy Woods was pulling I was instantly impressed, as was everyone else at the boat dock. A crowd quickly gathered, anxious to learn more about the boat and to get T-Bone's autograph.

Camowrapped in Realtree and sponsored by Bone Collector, Yeti Coolers and Hard Core Decoys, the new 20-foot-long AirRanger airboat is every bowfisherman’s dream, which is exactly what Woods, his son Hunter and friend Scott “Shorty” Baxter wanted. A passionate and successful bowfishing team, the three were the World Champions in 2008 and 2012, and they held the Bowfishing Association of America Big 20 title from 2008 to 2011. Needless to say, these guys are serious, so they needed a serious boat.

Among many impressive features, the airboat boasts a Mast Motorsports Custom 625 Hp Aluminum Engine, Whirl Wind three-blade composit prop, Oracle interior green LED lighting, two power pole shallow water anchors, a custom bow holder rail and two Garmin GPS systems. Each of the bonuses not only enhance the boat as a bowfishing tool, but make it ideal for waterfowl and alligator hunting, and even for deer hunting in marshy regions. As the owner of Thrills & Kills Outdoors guide service, Woods depends on a highly functioning, multi-purpose boat.

I spent some time photographing the boat and learning more about it before we hit the water. Before powering it up, Woods handed me a pair of headphones and said, “You’re going to need these.” Boy, he wasn’t kidding. The boat was extremely loud, but I didn’t think much about the noise as we shot through the water in search of a good bowfishing spot. I was amazed by how the boat could glide over logs, stumps and trash with ease. As Woods demonstrated by driving through the dense grass and even up onto land, the airboat is extremely maneuverable. That maneuverability makes the airboat ideal for bowfishermen who need to get into hard-to-reach nooks and cranies when searching for fish.

Even though we had the fantastic boat and skilled bowfishermen aboard, we shot our bows sparingly that night. After days and days of rain, the water was as brown as chocolate milk, making spotting, much less arrowing, fish extremely difficult. But, we did manage to find a few clear pockets as the night progressed. I stuck one fish, but it pulled free before I could haul it into the boat. T-Bone and Tyler "Squeedunk" Viars, Outtech regional sales manager, each arrowed a large grass carp and the other guys got an assortment of gar and carp as well. We ended up having a great time, even though the pickings were few.

So, what do you think about Woods' new airboat? Ever ridden in an airboat?