By John Felsher

Permanent duck blinds stay out in the wilderness, sometimes for decades. These structures become part of the environment and remain empty for months. Even during duck season, hunters may only visit their blinds a few times.

Popular spots for critters

In some places, a platform or floating blind offers the only dry space for miles. These tiny islands in a wet wilderness may attract all kinds of creatures-not all of them welcome by most hunters. Depending upon the location, vacant duck blinds create homes for venomous snakes, rats, nutria, mink, otters, raccoons, turtles, perhaps even alligators and other animals. Of course, they also attract wasps, spiders and other biting or stinging creatures. Even pit blinds sunken into the mud could hold trapped snakes, rats or other less than happy critters.

Enter at your own risk

Most waterfowlers approach blinds in darkness, so they can't see what lurks within the walls. Before entering any blind, walk around it making noise and kick it or shake it a few times to announce your arrival and issue an eviction notice to anything inside, an especially good idea on the pre-dawn hours of opening morning after the blind sat vacant for months. Most creatures won't hang around people with guns and will quickly slither or scamper away. Then, shine a flashlight inside the structure to detect anything that didn't get the message..

Also, bring a can of insecticide, especially on opening morning, to deal with any wasps that made nests in the blind. These insects typically won't come out until sunrise, so hit the blind with a few blasts of bug juice just in case. Nothing ruins an opportunity at mallards on final approach like two men jumping around, cursing and swatting at stinging wasps.