Greg Cole’s portable blind certainly would qualify as no-frills. Cole, of Greenfield, Tennessee, hunts a shallow swamp on the Obion River. He wades in and picks a hole to hunt in the swamp each morning based on wind direction. He carries his blind materials with him and erects his blind each morning before shooting time.
“The main component of my blind is a 15’x3’ piece of camouflage netting, the wavy-cut military kind,” Cole explains. “I roll this up and carry it like a bedroll on top of my backpack. I also carry three 3-foot sticks inside the roll to support the blind.”
After choosing his hunting spot, Cole unrolls the net, stretches it vertically, and uses plastic zip ties to secure the ends to surrounding brush or saplings. Then he sets up the three sticks to serve as interior supports for the netting.
“I don’t put my blind at the edge of the hole,” he says. “Instead, I set it up 5-10 yards back in the brush from the upwind edge of the hole. I want it to blend in with the natural cover.”
Next, Cole attaches 20 Mojo Ghillie Bundles to the net at random locations. These are bundles of faux grass, which he carries in his backpack. He fastens the material onto the net with clothespins to give his blind a three-dimensional look. Lastly, Cole cuts several willow saplings and drives them into the mud along the front of the net to break up the outline even more.
It takes him about 20 minutes to erect this blind. When it’s finished, it stands only three feet high, as Cole is a firm believer in maintaining a low profile. Also, the blind is situated with natural brush in front of as well as behind the net.
Cole and his partners sit behind the net on marsh stools and are careful to remain motionless while ducks are circling overhead. They also always wear facemasks and call very little to close-working birds.
“My blind, Ghillie Bundles, shells, and shotgun weigh around 25 pounds total,” Cole adds, “so I can carry them in and out without too much effort. This allows me to move around and set up where I want to, and the ducks almost never see me.”
Many other minimalist hunters have developed their own portable blind systems for boats, laydown blinds, and other hides. While the materials and designs may be different, the goal is the same: to allow hunters to go where the birds are and to hide effectively with minimal expenditure of time and effort.
The minimalist philosophy can also apply to shotguns and other hunting accessories. For example, Scott Glorvigen of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, hunts small lakes and backwater sloughs in his home state and in the Dakotas. He paddles a 14-foot Old Town Predator kayak to reach spots that are inaccessible to hunters with bigger boats. Since taking up this style of hunting three years ago, Glorvigen has assembled the following collection of gear that complements his minimalist hunting techniques.
Shotgun: “I carry a Remington 870 Super Mag,” he says. “It never jams. It can get wet or muddy, and it keeps on shooting.” Glorvigen has also put a sling on the shotgun, which allows him to wade hands-free and carry other gear.
Blind bag: “I like to carry my shells, headlamp, GPS, chemical hand warmers, thermos, snacks, and other extras in one bag. I store my ammo in hard plastic boxes that have 25 separate shell holes. This keeps the mud and moisture out, and it allows me quick access when the shooting is fast.”
Calls: “I carry a Canada goose call, mallard call, diver call, and dog whistle on my lanyard. That’s it.”
Folding tripod stool: “I slide the kayak sideways into some cover and set up my tripod stool in the cockpit to get me off the floor of the boat. I can swivel and shoot better this way.”
Extra paddle: “I take an extra T-handle paddle (besides my standard double-bladed kayak paddle) for safety and to help pick up decoys.”
Expandable blind: “Hunter’s Specialties makes a ground blind that stretches out to 12 feet. Sometimes I use this to help conceal the kayak in areas where cover is sparse.”
Glorvigen carries all this gear plus a dozen decoys and his retriever in his kayak. “Everything has to fit in the nose or stern of the kayak except my dog,” he says. “He rides between my legs. When using a kayak, it’s a big advantage to have a dog that will sit still and mind his manners.”
With this gear and strategy, Glorvigen can pick up and move quickly if the ducks tell him he’s in the wrong spot. “I normally hunt multiple spots on any given day,” he says. “This style of hunting has opened up opportunities I never knew existed.”
The hunters featured above know what works for them in their specific settings. But it’s not their methods that are most important. Instead, it’s their mindset. It’s their confidence in their ability to experience high-quality shooting with minimal equipment, but major effort.
Other hunters can do likewise on beaver ponds, hidden sloughs, prairie potholes, spring creeks, sandbars, islands, backwaters, and countless other out-of-the-way places. And these honey holes are waiting for wade-in, walk-in, paddle-in hunters to come and find them. Indeed, minimalist hunting is always an adventure, and many times the shooting is anticlimactic compared to the challenge of finding and figuring out these overlooked waterfowling hotspots.