Brad Biere of Lake St. Louis, Mo., hunts some of the largest and trickiest rivers in the nation — the Mighty Mississippi and the Moody Missouri. But recently, the urge to sell his duck boat and its fast set-up, fully grassed duck blind hit Biere. Fortunately, the desire also passed, because potential buyers were only interested in the blind, and not the johnboat on which it sits.
Biere’s Fully Adjustable Grass Boat Blind is simple to build using everyday tools, is easily adaptable to any boat and can be constructed from inexpensive, easy-to-find materials. The blind’s attributes were so remarkable that Biere’s design was judged the 2008 WILDFOWL Boats and Blinds Contest third-place winner.
“I tried to sell my boat and blind,” Biere said. “But the only calls I received were from waterfowl hunters who wanted to buy the blind. I also had a call asking me how I built it, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to share this blind with fellow hunters who read WILDFOWL magazine.”
A large part of Biere’s inspiration to build his unique blind was economics. He considered buying a ready-made blind prohibitively expensive, so he decided to build his own blind.
“I was able to build my blind for only $260,” he said. “That is a bargain compared to the retail prices of commercially made blinds I’ve found. I searched and searched on the Internet and could not find a single plan for a ‘free’ boat blind that I could build myself. So, after several months of thinking, this blind is what I came up with.”
Biere’s boat blind is fully adjustable to fit any hunting situation he encounters. It is also a breeze to tow on a trailer to the hunting site, and lifts off of the boat with ease.
“My blind will take you about two days to build,” he said. “It might take only six hours for someone to build if they have a background in construction, though. But I built it all by myself and I can tell you that it wasn’t so easy.”
Biere said it would have been nice to have another pair of hands to hold pieces in place while they were being measured, marked and fitted together, as well as for the companionship. Therefore, his recommendation is for two people to build this blind together.
“I built this on a 14-foot boat, but the plan should be adaptable to fit on duck boats of up to 18 feet in length,” he said. “The conduit size would have to be increased and the specifications would also have to be adjusted to fit a larger boat.”
Biere has hunted out of his boat blind on the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers with great success. He said the blind looks so natural that even the wariest geese don’t seem to mind the large grassy object sitting on the sandbars, until hunters with shotguns pop up to shoot.
“I have killed geese at a distance of only five yards out of my blind,” he said. “I hope readers of WILDFOWL can enjoy building their own blinds from these plans.”
Before you start building Biere’s Fully Adjustable Grass Boat Blind, look at the photo of the bow of the boat with the blind sides folded down. It is easy to build once you see how the stabilizer arms and blind side frames are positioned and adjusted. Simply moving the spring clip pins into the different holes in the frames and stabilizer arms allow the height of the blind’s sides to change.
Step 1: Take two pieces of 3/4-inch diameter conduit and bend them into U-shapes. They do not have to be perfectly formed. Middle sections will be cut to compensate for irregularities. The U-shaped conduit pieces should be same width as the bow and the stern of the boat. Place them along the front edge and back edge and along the gunwales.
Step 2: Measure the distance along the boat gunwales between the U-sections. Cut two 3/4-inch diameter conduit pieces to connect the U-sections to fit the length of the boat or just a couple of inches less so the unit fits fully inside the bow and stern to clear any parts of the motor that extend into the boat.
Step 3: Use four 3/4-inch diameter setscrew couplings to connect all four of the conduit pieces. Be sure to tighten the setscrews. You should now have a frame that looks like a rectangle with rounded corners. This is the base frame.
Step 4: Measure and mark the center of the bow and the stern on the base frame. Then measure 3 inches from the center point in both directions and mark these points on the bow and stern of base frame. These points will be the pivot points for frames that form the sides of the blind.
Step 5: From these four 3-inch off-center pivot point marks, measure the length to the outside of the base frame. Beginning at each pivot point mark, measure and bend four ¾-inch diameter conduit pieces into L-shapes to match the base frame. The pieces must be long enough to be able to connect in the middle of the port and starboard sides and should be a perfect copy of the base frame when resting on top of it. Laying the top pieces on the base frame makes it easy to match them for length and conformity to the base frame.
Step 6: Connect the starboard sidepieces and the port sidepieces with two 3/4-inch diameter setscrew couplings. Then place the two completed sides on the base frame.
Step 7: Cut four pieces of 1-inch diameter conduit for sleeves to hold for the sides of the blind. The blind frames will slide freely inside of the 1-inch conduit.
Step 8: Drill a 1/4-inch diameter horizontal hole through the sleeve and the base frame at all four of the pivot points. Attach them with 1/4-inch-by-2 1/4-inch bolts, 1/4-inch washers and 1/4-inch lock nuts.
Step 9: Drill a 3/8-inch horizontal hole 5 inches from the bottom of each sleeve. Cut four 7 1/2-inch long pieces of 3/4-inch-by-48-inch steel stock for the stabilizer arms that will connect the blind sides to the base frame with spring clip pins. Drill a 3/8-inch hole 1-inch from the end of each of the four stabilizer arms.
Step 10: Attach the four 7 1/2-inch-by-3/4-inch steel pieces to the sleeves using 1/4-inch-by-1 1/2-inch bolts and 1/4-inch nuts.
Step 11: Slide the port and starboard blind sides into the sleeves. The stabilizer arm bolts will stop them. The bolts and lock nuts at the four pivot points should be loose enough to let the blind sides pivot freely.
Step 12: Drill a 3/8-inch horizontal hole through the sleeve and blind side conduit 15 inches from the bottom of the sleeve. Repeat the process with the other three sleeves.
Step 13: Pull the blind sides out of the sleeves and drill two 3/8-inch holes at 1 1/2-inch intervals from first hole on the blind side conduit at all three blind side ends. These holes allow the blind sides to raise and lower by sliding the sides up or down inside the sleeves.
Step 14: Insert the blind side ends back into the sleeves and insert the spring clip pins.
Step 15: Measure and mark a point 5 1/2 inches from each of the four pivot points. Drill 3/8-inch horizontal holes through the base frame at these marks. Mark and drill two more 3/8-inch horizontal holes 1½ inches apart from the first hole in each base frame.
Step 16: Attach the stabilizer arm from the blind side to the base frame using the spring clip pins. Just by changing the clip pins into different holes in the frame base, you can adjust the blind sides open or closed like a clamshell.
Step 17: Drill a 1/4-inch vertical hole and attach the four clamps to the four corners of the base frame with four 1/4-inch-by-1-inch bolts. The easiest way to accomplish this step is by placing the blind on the boat. Adjust the setscrews to the boat sides.
Step 18: Add grass mats. Lay the grass mats one at a time, barely overlapping them over the top of the blind side. The blind must be up with stabilizer arms in place when the grass is added. After the mats are in place, zip-tie them to the conduit sides. Tie only to the blind sides, not to the base frame to allow the blind to fold up for travel. After the four skirts are in place and zip-tied to the side frames, tie the individual grass mats together.
Zip ties should be no more than 5 inches apart. Leave enough of the grass mat skirt overhanging the bow and stern to wrap the grass around the boat when the blind is erect. The extra grass mat skirt is folded inside the boat blind before it is lowered for travel. When the boat is underway or being towed on a trailer, the blind is held down with bungee cords.