Blinds: The Natural Look
Harris, Checkett and Roetker agree the most effective blinds blend into the landscape naturally. They wouldn't catch your eye if you were passing overhead at 300 feet.
"I believe ducks are a lot smarter now than they were 20 years ago," Harris says. "They are subject to more hunting pressure, and they learn to avoid anything that's the least bit unnatural. If they see something that doesn't look right, they'll circle a couple of times, then keep going. This is why hunters now have to camouflage their blinds better than ever. They should try to make them disappear into the landscape."
After flying over his blinds and those of many other hunters, Harris suggests that hunters do whatever is necessary to keep duck blinds from standing out. "Instead of positioning a blind outside a line of woods or brush," he says, "put it back in the cover a few feet. Camouflage it totally with materials that are native to the spot but not taken from it. You don't want to hack or tramp down your natural vegetation."
Harris recalls one blind in particular as an example of poor positioning and use of cover. "This blind was in (not on the edge, but in) a pothole in a willow slash," he says. "From the air, all the surrounding vegetation was gray and brown. But this blind was covered in bright yellow cane. It stood out like a neon light in a darkroom. I could see it a mile away. Nothing could have made that blind more obvious. I know it had to scare ducks."
In contrast, Roetker remembers a pit in a rice field levee that was virtually invisible from the air. "This was in north Louisiana," he says. "I was flying a survey, saw a bunch of ducks in a rice field and swooped down to count them. When I got close, I realized they were decoys. But there was no blind. I looked for it but couldn't see it."
Roetker circled and on the second pass picked out the pit buried in the levee. "It blended in so well it was almost unbelievable," he says. "Around the pit the levee had been resodded with natural vegetation, and I couldn't see any opening. I know its owner must have been a very good duck hunter."
Checkett also remembers a blind that blended in better than most. "It was on a dead-timber reservoir in southeast Arkansas," he says. "Instead of being covered with oak brush or cane, it was covered with logs and sticks. It looked like a beaver lodge and fit in with its surroundings extremely well.