by Brad Fenson
Using natural cover to create a blind allows you to sit or stand concealed as you watch over your decoys. Natural blinds don’t have to be fancy, are relatively easy to set up, and can be a comfortable and efficient way to hunt.
The first stand-up blinds were constructed with cut willows and for good reason—they hold their leaves well and cut branches inserted into moist ground can last for weeks, or even the entire season. Any holes that start to form over time can be filled by cutting more willow branches.
Carry clippers or a machete to collect blind material. Cut the branches at an angle, creating a point that is easier to push into the ground. Allow the willows to be full length to make a tall blind that can conceal several hunters. If the willow limbs are too dense or tall to see out of, bend them over or create holes to see through.
Are cattails, bulrushes, and sedges more natural to the wetland you’re hunting? If so, build a frame and fill it in with native vegetation. Push lengths of rebar into the wetland shore with tight strands of parachute cord tying them together. Weaving the vegetation into the cord makes the blind look like a natural part of the shoreline.
Creating a blind for the season means you can run out whenever you find the time and hunt waterfowl. Carry in a seat, decoys, and hunting essentials in a waterproof bag each time, plus a garbage bag to collect empty shotshells.
Portable blinds are available with camouflage fabric, which can be enhanced with willow cuttings or grass. They are usually designed with poles to push into the substrate and can be removed when leaving.
Finding the right spot for your waterfowl blind is essential. Pay attention to the birds before constructing a blind to know where they prefer to be on any stretch of water or shoreline. Points, narrows, and protected shorelines are common areas for birds to congregate or feed. Molted feathers, tracks, and droppings indicate you’re in the correct spot. If hunting diving ducks, watch for prime feed like sago pondweed, which is targeted by species like canvasback.
When scouting for a blind location, note the wind and weather. Birds will often shift roosting or feeding areas to stay out of the elements. A west shoreline might be ideal with a northwest wind, but birds will vacate if it’s blowing from the east. It’s easy enough to build a blind for one or two of the prevailing winds so that hunting is an option no matter what the weather is doing.