I have hunted waterfowl for years. It is one of my many vices but one that greatly appeals to me. The idea of getting up early to take your dog out to the marsh for an incredible sunrise breakfast is something that yearns in the heart of most waterfowl hunters. For most of my illustrious waterfowl hunting career, I have hopped around from blind to blind, hunting with friends, layout blinds, etc. Yet there comes a time in every hunters life when you feel the urge, uncontrollable I might add, to lay down roots. Well, Dave (brother-in-law) and I recently decided it was time to grow up and do the same. What started out as a conversation grew into something, well…very nice!
Like all hunters who realize they need to settle down, we had decisions to make. Buy a fixer upper?, Go with a kit? Build your own? Understanding that Dave is a heck of a cabinet maker by trade, we went with “build your own” option. This way you get to pick the color and when finished, the blind could have that new blind smell. I have hunted out of several well built blinds over the years and like them all. Some have been more like cabins on the lake while others lacked curb appeal. We realized we could not build what we wanted…a blind with plumbing, electrical, snoozing areas, kitchen, etc. But…it would still be comfortable for four and a proud place to “hang your hat” that was all ours!
We borrowed lumber from my father-in-law, our partner in this new venture and an avid hunter himself. He had recently taken out a redwood deck and the planks from that project were perfect for our needs. Not too many hunters have a redwood blind! We also fabricated a framed base out of aluminum placing the blind on skids to make it easier to move and keep the base dry (thanks again to our father-in-law…Here is a clue…if your going to get married, always marry up!) It was now time for the amenities. You know, the elements of the blind that make it your design unique. We would need a small cook area but did not want it to take up room in the blind so Dave built a stove area that protrudes outside the blind forming a small nook on one end. We place the shooting window at an angle to the front so we could see up in the sky better. The front of the blind is a shelf area for us to store necessities such as shells, coffee, donuts, etc. We placed an older propane burning stove in the center to heat the blind and the flat top makes a perfect place to warm coffee.
When we placed the blind on the pond, we had to feather it in so as not to look like a blind. Geese are smarter than you think! We started with a base layer of tan-green paint followed by a cover of leaf-0-flage camo draping. Over that we zip tied no less than one zillion bundles of native grass from the lake area. We then “planted” trees and debris around, over and on the blind. Dave then made two dog boxes we placed on each end. Now the dogs can watch the show in front of the blind and stay comfortable. The shooting window has burlap and grass on rails that hide the hunters while allowing good view of the sky and easy shooting access.
When I see an old blind sitting on a pond, the wood falling in, rotting, weeds grown up around it, I wish they could talk. Those old blinds were probably built by a couple hunters who had more enthusiasm than money and sat in it on its maiden voyage with more pride than a National Championship football team. For years, that blind probably heard family discussions, trash talk, plans for the future and some of the most enjoyable laughs ever made. It proudly kept its hunters warm and hidden, even on the coldest hunts. Today, many blinds look like something that should be condemned. But at some point in time, they likely were a place filled with laughter, good times, good food and good friends.
We took our blind out on its maiden voyage last weekend and already it has proven a good design. The first morning out resulted in the harvest of two ducks, along with a breakfast of champions consisting of hash browns, eggs and sausage with strong coffee. The dogs seem to like their new home and birds don’t seem to care we are there which is success in and of itself. We plan to hunt this blind a lot. We have plans for expansion over time, changes we want to make to the dog boxes and of course, have the meals laid out from now until Christmas. We hope to have friends share it with us and look forward to our kids joining us for many hunts. It is a place for us to hang our hats. A place where memories will be made and the bonds of friendship formed. I am looking forward to every minute of it!