Craig Olson of Spokane, Wash., tries to improve the design and construction over his previous blinds. Each time he builds a blind, he comes closer to his dream of perfection. He might have found it with his Dock Blind.
“I’m always trying to make a better, longer-lasting, more moveable and better camouflaged duck blind,” he said. “Finally, after a lot of thought and recollection of the many duck blinds I have built, I drew up some plans. I reviewed them with some hunting friends who suggested some good changes, and we took on the project. We named it the Dock Blind.”
The base is a 12-foot-by-16-foot floating dock constructed using pressure-treated lumber, scrap pieces of Styrofoam and enough 1-inch rabbit wire screen covering the underwater side of the Styrofoam to keep muskrats from chewing.
The blind walls attach to the dock with 4-inch lag screws spaced at 18-inch intervals, with the outside walls flush with the sides of the dock. The back and front walls are 16 feet long and 4 feet high, but the front wall has a dog door at each end. Dog spaces are walled off from the main blind compartment. They are made of 2-inch-by-2-inch boards and ³⁄₈-inch plywood.
A 4-foot-by-5-foot gate on the right side allows boat access at the rear. The boat gate swings open on three large hinges supported by the doubled 2-inch-by-4-inch panels of a 1-foot-wide by 4-foot-tall wall. Two more gates measuring 4 feet by 4 feet swing open on two large hinges to allow entry from either side of the blind by hunters and dogs.
Using pre-made panels constructed of 2-inch-by-4-inch framing with plywood screwed in, Olson erected the roof and walls. He found that building the larger blind components separately and erecting them on the dock platform was an easier method than adding the framing to the dock. All of the panels are screwed together. The front wall is made of two 4-foot-by-8-foot panels screwed together at the ends, and the left side consists of 4-foot-by-6-foot panels. Other dimensions on the sides are primarily gates and supports to provide access to the boat compartment and blind interior.
Four 4-foot-by-8-foot panels were screwed together to form a roof along the 8-foot sides and covered with roofing paper. The roof measures 16 feet long and 8 feet wide from front to back, with panels held up on vertical 2-inch-by-6-inch supports. With the front 6 inches higher than the rear, the roof slopes up at an angle, and the front edge is 30 inches from the front of the blind to allow generous room for overhead shots. Three 2-inch-by-6-inch boards attached at the front of the roof and top of the front wall provide additional support.
The boat compartment takes up 5 feet of the interior width of the blind and is separated from the hunting compartment by a wall 16 feet long and 3 feet high, providing a backrest for a bench seat. Uprights that support the backrest wall also sustain an overhead shelf at a height of 5 feet that extends the length of the blind for holding blind bags, heaters, gun cases and other gear. The bench seat is made of two 16-foot-long, 2-inch-by-10-inch boards supported by five frameworks built from 2-inch-by-4-inch pieces.
The hunting compartment is also 5 feet wide, and the dog-and-gear compartment in front-center of the hunting compartment measures 2 feet wide. The dog-and-gear front section is topped by a roof that angles upward and rearward from the front wall.
Painted dull gray, the entire blind is covered with cattle wire. Cable ties attach camouflage tank netting to the cattle wire. The addition of shooting screens, made from 30-inch-by-32-inch pieces of cattle panel covered with camouflage netting, provides total concealment by completely hiding the shooting port of the blind. The hunters can gently ease the screens down before standing to shoot. Additionally, four footstools provide an elevated position for shooting at birds coming in low over the roof.
The final camouflage application consists of native ponderosa pine boughs. To preserve the boughs, Olson coats them with green spray paint, which prevents them from turning brown and helps them last much longer than if they remained in their natural state.
The blind is anchored to 40-pound concrete blocks pushed into the mud, with two 50-feet steel cables securing the blind to the anchor blocks. The cables are passed through the anchor block eyes, then secured to eyebolts at the four corners of the blind.
For both hunter and dog access, Olson added two 10-foot-long ramps, leading from the lake bottom to each blind door. The wooden ramps have 2-inch-by-2-inch wood cross strips for traction and are covered with tank netting for extra traction and camouflage.
The Dock Blind took 125 hours to build, and construction materials cost about $2,000.
“It looks like a monster, but it fools waterfowl,” Olson said. “My brother from Eugene, Ore., came to Spokane to hunt with me shortly after we had completed the Dock Blind. He is somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to duck blinds, so when he saw the Dock Blind, he said no self-respecting duck or goose would come anywhere near this monstrosity. That day, shooting out of the Dock Blind, we shot six Canada geese and 12 mallards.
Needless to say, he ate his words about the ‘beautiful’ Dock Blind.”
Layout Blind Float
Dennis Dahlstrom of Chehalis, Wash., enjoys the comfort and portability of a commercial field layout blind, but sometimes wants to use a layout blind for a water hunt. To solve the
problem without having to buy or build a layout boat, he constructed a simple float anyone can build and use.
“When you need to hunt at the water’s edge or in water that is up to 3 feet deep, you can build this easy and inexpensive float to support your layout blind,” he said. “You need to keep the float as small and light as possible, but it still has to be stable.”
Dahlstrom stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. He built a float that is 6 feet long and 4 feet wide that works fine for his purposes, although other hunters might have to adjust the size of their float to accommodate their height and weight.The blind is framed with 2-inch-by-6-inch lumber and cross-braced with 1-inch-by-4-inch lumber countersunk into the 2-inch-by-6-inch lumber framing. The float is filled with 2-inch-thick Styrofoam and has a ³⁄₈-inch plywood top and bottom. All of the wood components are screwed together.
“I’m getting a little bit older, so it is getting harder each year to sit up quickly in my layout blind,” he said. “So I built a 4-inch riser on the head end so that my upper body would be raised. It makes it easier for me to sit up and shoot.”Dahlstrom anchors the float using two 4-foot-long pieces of ½-inch rebar. He drives the rebar into the marsh bottom on the downwind side of the float to keep the wind from blowing it out of position.
“I used scrap lumber that I had lying around to build the float,” he said. “But I did have to buy the plywood and Styrofoam, which cost me about $38 total. I attached a rope to one end so I can tow it to the water’s edge with my four-wheeler.”