May 08, 2013
By Joe Genzel
We've all spent a day flagging and calling flock after flock, finally sucking a group in on gliding wings only to watch as they flare at the edge of the decoys. For a moment your pulse jumps, giving way to disappointment as you bemoan what could have been. Any number of variables might have caused such an unfortunate circumstance, including concealment.
These days, layouts and field blinds run the gamut from campfire sleeping bags to single-wide trailers — in Mossy Oak and Realtree, of course. With every passing season, it seems the ducks and geese become more wary of four mud-covered coffins in the middle of a decoy spread, so the layout must evolve. These blinds are on the cutting edge of innovation — the best duck blinds and layouts of 2013 — designed to keep the flocks coming in. But the scouting, digging in and brushing up — that's on you.
Hard Core Man Cave
It's not as comfy as a leather couch, but the Man Cave
comes darn close. Slide the four locking bars in place and attach the doors with four push-in buttons and you're ready for an entire day in the corn stubble.
We spent a majority of the season resting our heads on the comfy little pillow included in this spacious layout, and the DriBed kept our backsides dry in up to six inches of standing water. The shell pouch has plenty of room for gear and the stubble straps are nice and taught, so you don't have to spend as much time gathering stalks to brush in the blind before each hunt.
This blind is more like an impenetrable fortress than a layout. The frame is constructed of steel, which makes it a bit heavier, but also more durable. Because of its size, the RIP
is best for hunters who can dig in and leave the blind in one spot all season.
The base is much wider than the shooting port, creating a tapered effect that helps eliminate shadows. A 900D cover and 1200D-reinforced floor will keep the elements at bay, and the padded head and backrest will have you taking early-morning siestas — at least you can dream about cupped up greenheads.
Rig' em Right Low Rider
Rig' em Right
always gets it right and their new layout is no exception. Putting together layouts on chilly, pre-dawn mornings can be arduous. Rig'em Right made it simple with its low-profile Low Rider, which uses no pins and assembles in 30 seconds, giving you more time to focus on the intricacies of the decoy spread.
A multi-layered padded seat, backrest and headrest will keep you comfy and warm, and the storage compartment behind the headrest is a perfect place for a blind bag.
Price: $280 to $300
Foiles Strait Stealth
After devoting an entire morning to constructing layouts, the Strait Stealth
was a welcome relief — no assembly required. Just pull this low-profile blind out of the box, mud it up and head to the field. An outside cover eliminates shadows and the boxy look of conventional layouts. It's advantageous for wary, late-season birds that have seen dozens of spreads by the time they appear over your decoys.
The seat is padded with plenty of lumbar support for your back. There's also a scabbard for your gun, which is handy if you can't drive out to the field, or if a couple juvies fly too close on an afternoon walk-in.
Perfect for tall reeds and willows, the A-Frame
is at home in the marsh or the prairie. Make those scouting trips to find where the birds are landing, and get into the field early with the A-Frame, which sets up in minutes.
The non-corrosive aluminum modular frame is covered in a 900D Mossy Oak Duck Blind shell. It can accommodate four hunters and is equipped with grass straps and pockets, so you can incorporate natural vegetation for concealment.
Cabela's Northern Flight Ultimate
It's hard not to fall in love with a layout that comes equipped with a sewn-in koozie, though the reasonably priced Northern Flight
is much more than a drink holder. It's the only blind in the group that snaps together with a series of plastic hooks, making assembly€¦a snap.
You will stay dry in up to 10 inches of water, and the zippered foot pouch is big enough to slip your retriever in for a quick warm up, just make sure he has hunkered back down beside you when the geese show up.
Price: $190 to $200
Tanglefree Landing Zone
We've lugged enough layouts across wet chiseled cornfields to know lighter is better. The Landing Zone
carried like a feather, and the backrest was so comfortable we had to fake back pain in front our wives to get a post-hunt massage. The corrosion-resistant aluminum frame will keep us hunting out of it for seasons to come, and the quick-release pins are a friendly feature.
Beavertail Gunner Field
Have you ever seen the La-Z-Boy that helps old people to their feet with a press of a button? Well, this is the layout blind equivalent. The Gunner Field
has a spring-loaded backrest that pushes you forward when the birds work close. The spring can be disengaged, but then you would have to use some actual muscles to sit up (we'll pass). A few turns of the screwdriver are required for first-time assembly, slide in four pins to hold the blind doors and you're ready.
Avery Power Hunter
The only layout of the bunch with a camouflaged mesh FlipTop, the Power Hunter
is an ultra-light 11-pound full-frame ground blind. Instead of flipping the doors, you pop open the canopy, which has plenty of room for calling just before pulling the trigger. We really liked the blind's low profile and portability.
Price: $150 to $175
Cupped Up Muskrat Hut
Pull back the curtain on incoming flocks with the Muskrat Hut
. A unique retractable canopy coupled with a fishing float tube, the blind provides complete concealment for a single hunter — even in open water. The large zippered front window and two smaller rear windows allow you to keep an eye on the birds.