Saturday, June 14, 2008

DIY Floating Blinds

When spring and early summer come aroundsometimes I get the urge to go jump in the water. Not to swim mind you. But to shoot pictures of waterfowl and other small critters that live in ponds and other shallow water. I use a floating blind and I will tell you that with patience you can sometimes get really, really close to birds in the water. I have been shooting out of various floating blinds for a number of years now. I use two types of blinds. One designed for really shallow water 6 inches to two feet and one for deeper water 2 feet or more. A word of warning. Most floating blinds (Human powered type) should not be used in rivers or large bodies of water where you can get blown away or swept away by the current or possibly run over by a boat.

Well I'm a bit off track here so.... On my deeper water blind I use a float tube covered with a muskrat sort of looking blind. It is essentially a 1 inch diameter piece of tubing formed into a circle set on top of the float tube. I drilled (6) evenly spaced 1/4 in. holes into this ring of tubing. Into the holes I stick (3) fiberglass bike flags. Each one is bent into a "U" shape to make sort of a tentlike support (just like a dome tent). Over the fiberglass poles I use a lightweight cotton camo material that is attached to the ring of tubing. Over that is some surplus camo netting. . The surplus camo gives it that 3d appearence. The netting is also longer so that it hangs down off the tubing so that it covers the float tube. The primary advantage of this blind set up is that it is very lightweight and it can be broken down flat by taking the bike flags out. I don't use any added natural vegitation on this blind but it probably wouldn't hurt.

My shallow water blind is called the Fred Flinstone blind. It is a 4ft x8ft sheet of styrofoam that is 6 inches thick. There is a large hole cut into it amidships so you can sit on top of it and propel yourself through the hole with your feet like Fred and Barney. It has a 1/2 inch sheet of plywood covering the styrofoam. The blind on top is made out of 3/4 inch PVC Made into a box shape about 4x4x4 I covered the blind with 1/2 brown nylon netting. Then I cut cattails and tied them up into bundles and covered the blind. Then I covered the whole styrafoam base and plywood with burlap. For the final touch I drilled 1 inch holes all over the base and stuck cattails in it. The finished blind is very 3D. It looks like a floating island. This blind is very effective in flooded fields and shallow marshes. It is comfortable and very mobile. It is not however easily transported. You need a full isze pick up. I generally leave it wherever I'm using it for the season. It takes two people to load and launch. It also has to be recovered with cattails periodically. I just tie the bundles on with natural jute fiber. It matches the dried cattails pretty well. Well how is that for a tome.

God's light and blessings to all,


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