Properly brushed blind–This blind was properly brushed in the summer so
the brown vegetation would match the winter background months later.
By Mark Fike
Duck season is here but based on the reports I have seen on the Ducks Unlimited site, the pickings have been slim in many areas. Unless you have a hotspot that few people can access, you probably are grateful to get a half dozen shots at ducks per trip the past few years.
Most duck hunting requires that we get up well before dawn, load and trailer a boat a distance, slide it off the trailer in the dark, motor to a blind, set up decoys and hide the boat and hope the birds show up. After that effort, there is not much else we can do besides shoot well if we get shots right? Wrong!
I wish I had a dollar for each time I had ducks fly over my blind over the years only to keep going or take a look before turning away and heading off in another direction. After putting in so much effort to even go sit in a duck blind, we certainly don’t want to not get shots because of something we failed to do correctly.
One thing that we all can probably take a harder look at this season to maximize what chances we do get for a duck to whip around and go feet down, is how our blind looks from the air—a duck’s view.
Get rid of the shape
Blinds are almost always built in a rectangular shape. After being shot at a few times when approaching such areas, ducks will certainly get wise or will be dead long before they arrive much further south than Canada. Duck hunters need to brush their blinds with vegetation that blends in AND takes away the shape of the blind.
Pine will work, but cedar tends to last longer. Grass mats are OK but don’t add the depth. I found that making a few slots on my blind to tuck local clumps of grass into the brackets will help “fluff” it up some. Use plenty of whatever it is you are using. No such thing as too much. In fact, don’t shy away from putting whole small trees on the edges of your blind in the water too. This takes away the shape. Zip ties are great for this.
Cover all unnatural parts of the blind
If any of your wood is exposed, cover it. Spray paint is not going to do the job correctly. See above about using trees and grass. Cover all edges and build them out with a 3 D effect with vegetation. The roof of your blind should also be covered very well. Extend this to the areas around your blind too. You don’t want your blind to stick out like the only green clump of cedar on the creek or river!
Hide the boat!
The blind can be super camouflaged but if the boat is parked next to it, you may as well go home. While ducks might be used to seeing boats all over the water and some ducks feed around docks and boathouses, they have been shot at from such structures too. Hide the boat. If you have to park it 200 yards away and cover it with grass mats, burlap and then grass or branches, it is worth it on a day when few ducks are flying and you get limited chances.
Those of us that are light-skinned should always hide our hands and faces or any other skin when in the blind. Gloves and a face mask are great. Some guys will tell you that by the time the ducks get close enough to see your hands it is too late. I beg to differ. Any slight movement flashes your skin and is a contrast to a blind background, particularly if the interior of the blind is darker. Which brings me to the next point.
When you are hunting in the blind, don’t move around much. This is critical when the ducks are incoming. Movement is picked up easier than detail. Moving in a boat blind sends out ripples from the boat. Some pole blinds are shaky and move sending out ripples. Your decoys can send out ripples of movement but your locations should not!
Make Your Decoys Move
If your decoys are moving, then the ducks are looking at your decoys and not so much at where you are. The more movement you have away from your immediate location the better. Let the birds focus AWAY from you. Higdon Pulsator decoys and jerk rigs, as well as motorized quiver decoys, are great.
This season when the ducks starting showing up, don’t blow it. Keep yourself and your blind as invisible as possible to maximize your chances at getting reasonable shots at reasonable ranges.