Waterfowl Hunting: Sometimes, The Best Blind Is No Blind

Many duck hunters sit comfortably in pit blinds sunk into mud or platform blinds built on stilts in marshes. On lakes, people anchor floating blockhouse blinds in open water. They pull their boats under them and climb onto the camouflaged shooting deck.

Growing up hunting on public land where we could not build blinds, we looked for thick reeds growing in likely hunting spots. In low marshes, we sat on wooden shell buckets in native grass. Sometimes, temporary blinds offer better shooting, if less comfort, than permanent blinds.

A hunter waits for ducks and geese in a makeshift grass blind in Southwest Louisiana.

Natural Cover Is Best
Ducks quickly learn to detect and avoid permanent blinds. In addition, ducks can usually spot big blinds sunk into mud or built up over open waters. By late season, birds become exceptionally blind wary. Even in early season, no blind often makes a better hide than a poorly placed or hidden one. No blind made by man can beat natural cover already in place. Ducks grow accustomed to seeing tall weeds in particular areas and think nothing of it.

For example, hunters in flooded timber or high weeds seldom need blinds. They may just stand in natural cover. Hunters can also hide behind log piles, shoreline debris, rock piles, or similar cover.

While not as comfortable as cushy permanent blinds, mobility offered by temporary or natural blinds offer other advantages. Not tied to one location, hunters can move with the ducks or the wind. Often, the wind blows from the wrong direction. Hunters in permanent blinds watch as ducks sail over their heads to land on the far side of ponds. Using indigenous vegetation for cover, hunters can simply switch to the other side of the pond if the prevailing winds changed.

Blind Should Match Your Surroundings
Unfortunately, good ponds don’t always come equipped with great blind material handy. Good blind materials should closely match surroundings. In fact, they should not look like anything. As a kid, I experimented with several portable blinds. I stapled burlap oyster sacks together. When not falling apart, they stood out in the marsh.

Grant Miller (left) and Gerald Fruge take advantage of a log pile to hide from waterfowl in a Southwest Louisiana field.

Once, I stapled several camouflaged raincoats to sticks for a temporary blind. I thought it rather ingenious. I sat on my shell bucket and stuck the sticks around me for total concealment. However, woodland green camouflage does not work well in a brown marsh. It certainly didn’t hide me from my dad when he discovered what happened to his raincoats!

Today, hunters do not need to risk the wrath of their parents to make excellent portable blinds. Many manufacturers sell a variety of portable blinds and blind-making materials to handle diverse hunting situations. All work better than burlap sacks or raincoats stapled together!

Among the most popular portable, and even permanent blind materials, artificial or woven natural grass mats look exceptionally good in a brown marsh. Sportsmen can use them in a variety of configurations. Camouflaged netting in the proper colors also makes an excellent universal blind material. Some hunters stretch Army-style camouflaged netting over poles and hunt from small aluminum boats.  These net tents look like pyramids. Hunters look through the mesh and drop a side when ducks come into range.

Portable Blinds Abound
Some companies sell innovative portable blinds to match specific surroundings. Used mostly by deer and turkey hunters, some easy to erect portable fabric blinds could work for waterfowl. Some come with waterproof materials for getting out of the weather on those nasty duck days. Reclining blinds look like camouflaged sleeping bags for lying in goose fields.

In cut fields with little concealment, goose hunters sometimes use blinds that resemble haystacks. Geese easily see them, but they would expect to see large rolls of hay sitting in some fields. Accustomed to such objects, they wouldn’t fear them.

Other blinds look like huge goose decoys. Hunters recline and drop the decoy shells over themselves. They look out through holes in the cover. When birds come into range, they pop the tops and fire at geese very surprised to see humans with guns jumping out of goose butts!

In late season, hunters might find more success by hiding in native brush near small potholes instead of in a traditional permanent blind.

Plastic tree stump blinds work well on wooded shorelines. Other similar blind types resemble large rocks, great for hunting on beaches, rocky shorelines, or coves on the Great Lakes or the East Coast. However, they probably wouldn’t work well in a marsh.

If caught away from a blind, hunters can still hope for a shot. Sharp-eyed waterfowl key on movement. If caught out of a blind with ducks heading into range, freeze. Ducks would more likely notice someone jumping for cover than standing still in the open.

Discover a fine selection of waterfowl gear at Sportsman’s Guide.

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