It’s the waterfowl season and you’ve got a flock coming into your spread. The word goes out to “Take ‘em!” Blinds fly open, non-toxic shot goes up, and birds come down. Waterfowl blinds offer the hunter concealment, comfort and the mobility to hunt ducks and geese in any condition and from where the birds want to be.
You can’t see me!
The blinds come in popular waterfowling camo patterns as well as some specialized patterns created for the application. Some of these camo patterns are crop specific, meaning they work best in fields planted with the crops imitated by the camo. Wheat stubble and corn stubble patterns are designed for maximum concealment in those types of fields. The most common patterns, such as the popular Advantage® MAX-4 HD™ and Mossy Oak® Duck Blind™, can be adapted to fit any condition. Some blinds come in a basic khaki color that is highly effective for use in tilled fields, or with the use of stubble straps in many types of situations. I often refer to the khaki colored blinds as being dirt camo. Just add local vegetation and you’ve got a natural blind.
Stubble straps are a key feature about blind design when it comes to concealment. These straps are basically tough elastic cord woven into the design of the blind that allow you to weave in natural foliage. If you were hunting a cornfield, you’d obviously weave in some stalks to further blend in your blind. These also provide a 3-D effect, giving you depth. Also, as natural foliage moves with the slightest breeze, the better the blind blends in with the surroundings and the greater your chances of a successful hunt.
You can also use artificial blind material that is made to imitate the natural foliage. A bonus here is that artificial materials can be altered to fit specific situations. I like to use bundled grass that I picked up at a craft store and added in colors from a marker. I streaked in browns and greens in with the natural dried grass color and made bundles with zip ties. I also added in clips so make attaching these bundles to the stubble straps quick and easy.
For hunting those late seasons, you can pick up a snow camo cover for some blinds. These allow you to blend into the snow and also use stubble straps to conceal the blind a little more. They work great in cornfields for late season Canada’s.
Profile is as big a factor in concealment as camo. In fact it can be the biggest factor to your success, especially if you’re after hard to hunt birds like snow geese. Be aware of the shadows from your blind when setting up. Some blinds have a smaller profile than others. You’ll want to find a blind that fits you. Being a bigger guy, I was happy to see that there are blinds out there for the big guy. The great thing about these blinds is that they actually have a lower profile due to the bigger size. Very cool.
Mobility – running and gunning
The majority of layout blinds available are lightweight and easy to move. Most also fold or compact into a smaller size and many have some kind of carry-strap system such as a single or double shoulder strap. This allows the hunter to transport the blind easily to and from the field.
But what if you needed to quickly readjust your hunting situation? No problem with a layout blind. This is a big advantage over a fixed-position blind such as a pit blind. It allows you to hunt the birds and not hope that they’ll just fly your way. A good example and one of personal experience, was a time when the decoy spread was as perfect as it could be as was the spread of hunters in layout blinds. As is the case with many early-season goose hunts, the birds wanted the field but wanted a different location. The decoys were set up in the northeastern corner and the birds wanted to land in the southeastern corner. As with most early season hunts, no amount of flagging, calling or life-like spreads will bring in birds to a location they haven’t chosen. The decision was made to leave the decoys and move the layout blinds to the other corner. The next flock that came in locked up in perfect alignment with the blinds, and we lit those birds up.
It’s the little things
These blinds are comfortable and camouflaged well. But that wouldn’t mean anything if they weren’t easy to hunt from. Many are designed with a mesh-screen over the area where your face is. This screen can be used at your discretion. This makes the blind perfect for calling as it keeps you concealed while you’re working the call. This is a great feature when you want to move the call around to spread out the sound, or if you are concerned about incoming birds flaring from movement you make while calling. You may want to use a camo facemask to completely blend in with the camo of the blind.
Let’s say you’re a gear-head hunter. You’ve got a plethora of calls, a ton of ammo, a headlamp, a camera, and other miscellaneous things that always seem to end up in the field with you. Much of this stuff gets thrown by the wayside when the call to take incoming birds goes up. Instead of losing it though, as might happen in when lying out on bare ground, it is all kept in the blind. If you drop a call or two, the chances of mud and dirt getting into the barrel and ruining the reed is greatly reduced. Most blinds these days have enough storage inside them to allow you to stash all your gear plus that thermos of coffee and a few snacks.
Another great feature involves the increasingly popular technique of flagging birds in. Flagging imitates the movement of birds dropping into a spread, those last strong wing-beats as the bird touches down. The technique is highly effective for drawing attention to your spread. Flagging can often make the difference between a flock coming in from a distance or not. Layout blinds work incredibly well for flagging. Most have some form of port or opening to allow the hunter to flag. This allows you to flag and not have to open the blind until it is time to take ‘em. Most blinds have built-in pockets to hold flags, keeping them at the ready for when you need them.
Layout blinds are much more than a piece of camo fabric covering a hunter in a field. They offer features that greatly increase the enjoyment factor of a hunt. Gone are the days when one would have to lay exposed on frozen ground or cold, wet mud. In fact, the fabric these types of blinds are made from is usually quite thick and waterproof, which will block out the wind and elements when the weather turns five shades of mean.
Just about every blind on the market has a seatback of some kind. Not only does this make for a comfortable situation, but also you’re at the right angle to see approaching birds while remaining concealed. Options include plastic or neoprene construction, allowing you to have a waterproof blind. One option in particular allows you to place your field blind inside of a neoprene tub. It is constructed just like a pair of waders, giving you the option of hunting in up to eight inches of standing water. This is a great option for hunting flooded fields or shallow flats where others aren’t willing to go.
Man’s best friend (next to his wife of course)
You can conceal yourself to the point even the guy in the blind next to you has a hard time deciding where you are at, but it’s all for naught if your retriever is bouncing all over the field when the birds are coming in. You have options with layout blinds. If you have a highly trained dog, you may be able to get them to come into the blind with you. If you have a mellow dog that is highly trained, they may stay still and get the job done. A bonus there is you won’t have to worry about getting cold. Of all of the blinds I have, all of them have a zippered bottom that is called the dog hatch. My retriever has been deemed useless for fetching birds, but she does like to crawl in there with me and take a nap.
Chances are, however, that your pooch is not going to want to sit in a compact blind all day while dad or mom hunts. You could get the dog its own blind though. A dog blind allows your dog to have unrestricted movement, yet be concealed when needed. There are a couple of options on the market and both feature the same stubble straps as the human models to properly camouflage the blind with natural vegetation. They also feature that same heavy, waterproof fabric construction, meaning your dog will stay dry and comfortable even on days when the wind is cold as it is often during waterfowl hunts.
Corn, alfalfa, whatever…
During early goose seasons, many flocks will head for green fields. Hay and alfalfa fields will see quite a bit of pressure. Layout blinds are great but consider the option of round-bale type blinds. These operate and function on the same lines as layout blinds and imitate the large, round hay bales often seen in fields during that time of year.
Layout blinds are also effective in green-field situations. But you may notice that the green of the field doesn’t match the muted browns of the camo patterns these blinds come in. The answer is the aforementioned stubble straps. Either with natural vegetation or with artificial grasses and materials, you can turn your cornfield-stubble blind into an alfalfa-field blind.
To layout or not to layout
Some of the interesting blinds out there for waterfowlers are not layout-style binds at all. Some of the companies that make hub-style blinds like you’d use for deer and turkeys make a version for wing shooters as well. They have an open-roof design allowing for shooting at flying critters such as waterfowl or doves.
A very popular blind currently is the chair blind. These are basically folding chairs with a blind that pulls down. They are great for deer and turkey hunters on the move. Now they are made for wing shooters too with, you guessed it, an open-roof design. I used to hunt a field where we sat in the fence row and waited for passing birds. One of these blinds would be ideal for that type of hunt. They would also be splendid for dove hunting.
The Outwrite Truth
With all of the advancements in layout blind design, using one can greatly increase the enjoyment and success factors in your hunting endeavors. They offer a comfortable way to conceal a hunter in the field, and by using natural vegetation as well they can all but disappear. With the relative lightweight they offer, they also allow hunters to quickly change positions if needed. They offer everything a pit blind does, except maybe a place to make breakfast. They also have the added attraction of hunting the birds where the birds are, not just hoping the birds come to you. That alone makes them worth every penny.
|Final Approach Eliminator Pro-Guide XL? BlindEngineered to set up easily and conceal you as you lay down, the Pro-Guide XL is built 15% bigger for the large hunter. This larger size allows for softer lines and angles, resulting in improved concealment, plus it gives you more room to store your hunting gear close at hand. Durable 600 denier poly fabric features a waterproof coating, recessed padded headrest, padded gunrest, fastaccess side flagging poles. The entire unit collapses and compresses, allowing it to fit inside short-bed pickups. Weight: 20 lbs. Size: 42″W x 90″L x 20″H.
|Final Approach Eliminator Express BlindJeff Foiles Signature Series blind sets up in seconds on a lightweight rustproof aluminum frame and features the original split-lid system for quick shooting access. The insulated backrest and floor provide all-day comfort while the 600 denier poly camo fabric with waterproof PVC backing works to keep you dry. Comes complete with Stubble Straps? for added concealment, fold-down gunrest for safety and convenience, dual side flagging holes, a padded headrest, and a rugged 1200 denier waterproof floor. 25″W x 78″L x 14″H size collapses to 32″ x 24″ and weighs only 11.5 lbs. Imported.
|Team Otter Outdoors Beavertail 3-Man Haybale Hunting BlindBlend into the background when hunting your favorite harvested fields with a 3-Man Haybale Blind from Beavertail. This blind provides plenty of room inside for yourself, two buddies, and all your gear while protecting you from the elements with its durable waterproof and windproof 600 denier polyester shell. Designed to be set up and taken down quickly and easily, the Haybale’s collapsible self-storing aluminum frame folds down to just four inches for easy transport. Hook ‘n’ loop fasteners secure shell tightly to the frame, allowing you to set the Haybale up without needing any tools. Designed for the quick shots you make, the Haybale features a patented, spring-loaded aluminum frame roof and hinge system that pops out of the way when you rise to take the shot. Sewn-in “clearview” mesh roof windows with weather flaps and eye-level 2” viewing slots on the front and back of the blind give you an ample field of view. In addition to its common shape, the Haybale blind features sewn-on vegetation straps on its roof and body to help you create a more natural camouflage for better concealment. Zippered doors on either end of the blind provide easy entry and exit. Manufacturer’s one year warranty. Setup dimensions: 66”L x 62”W x 59”H. Weight: 27 lbs. Imported. Features: Bale shaped hunting blind with plenty of room for three hunters and gear Durable waterproof and windproof 600 denier polyester shell Quick and easy setup and takedown – collapsible frame, no tools required Patented, spring-loaded aluminum frame roof and hinge system – gets out of the way quickly Sewn-in “clearview” mesh roof windows with weather flaps Eye-level 2” viewing slots on the front and back of the blind Sewn-on vegetation straps – more natural camouflage to blend in better Easy entry and exit thanks to zippered doors on both ends of the blind Measures 66”L x 62”W x 59”H