I like to use a plastic "jet sled"as the "place" for the retriever.
The sled can be used during puppy training when teaching the steady concept.
The retriever sits in the sled training in the yard, in the boat ride into duck camp,
when hunting out of the boat, or when layout shooting in the marsh.
During the first duck hunt I solo shoot only 1 bird each time and the retriever soon learns the routine is similar to training....
steady and quiet wait for release and then rewarded with the retrieve.
During hunting the lab can sit behind the hunter and mark the bird better until verbally released to retrieve.
If the lab jumps out of the sled, the the hunter can prevent the retriever from getting his reward.
The dog is less likely to spook birds working the decoys by his head movement as the dog
can be set back in the shrubs and away from the shoreline.
Also since the retriever is behind the hunter, the dog will not suffer muzzle blast
and long term their hearing will be much better. The retriever stays warm as he sits
on a ridgerest pad and I turn over the sled to drain while pup is returning with a bird.
I also like sleds because they easily stack and can be used for holding the decoys
when setting up or picking up the dekes. Whenever working on the boat motor in the field,
the sled can be placed under the prop to catch any bolts than fall while
changing the water pump or installing a new prop or jet on the motor.
Also by laying out in a sled, the incoming ducks typically do not flare
because of a low hunter profile and no movement of the hunter.
Sleds are also useful for hauling moose quarters and antlers to the boat.