August 24, 2021
After navigating the rocky St. Lawrence River in the predawn darkness, Roger Yanik and his hunting partner, Fred Mondou, arrived at one of Yanik's favorite hunting spots. It was cold that morning in November 2020, but the chill would soon burn off with the sunrise.
"We set out four dozen mallard and Canada goose decoys," Yanik said. "Thirty minutes before sunrise, we could hear ducks calling and see them flying, following the river. We called to them and worked them until they started coming to the decoys—four, five, six at a time. The Canada geese were flying farther out on the river and we could not get them to come. But we shot seven species—mallards, wigeons, green-winged teal, spoonbills, wood ducks, mergansers and pouldeau (coots). They never knew we were there until we raised our guns to shoot."
Yanik is a 50-year-old retired construction worker from Candiac, Quebec, who sets Avian-X Canada goose, wood duck, mallard and black duck decoys and loads his Beretta A400 with Kent Fasteel 1s, 2s and 4s. He has a Lab named Woody and began hunting waterfowl twelve years ago at the invitation of a friend.
"He had an old fiberglass boat with an ancient Mercury motor," Yanik said. "When he put it in gear, the engine might die. One day in December, we were stuck in the middle of the river, wondering if anyone would come by to save us. Eventually, we paddled to shore. The next day, I bought a new 2012 Lowe 1756 with a Mercury 40 hp four-stroke engine and a Caravan trailer."
Yanik added a conventional scissors-frame blind. However, he grew frustrated with putting it up and down to pick up decoys and when it was towed on the highway. Having the foresight to select a boat with a center console was a big plus when he decided to build a custom flip-top blind. He said that a side console would have interfered with picking up decoys and walking on that side.
The frame has aluminum 1" square tubing uprights and 1/2" square laterals. All components were welded together, with flanges welded to the bottom of the uprights for bolting them to the tops of the gunwales.
The starboard side is the shooting side and is lower than the port side. Each side has three top panels that flip up to rotate inward, leaving a gap running the length of the boat so hunters can shoot and move about easily. The port side flip panels extend overhead and can be adjusted just high enough for hunters to sit beneath them. Hunters sit on three folding swivel seats mounted fore and aft of the console and on the bow platform. The overall aspect is that of a piano-style blind.
A base layer of black plastic safety fencing was attached to the frame with zip ties. Avery blind Cordura Nylon wind blocker fabric and Avery netting with die-cut fabric were zip-tied to the construction fencing. Avery Killerweed and native grass complete the camouflage covering. The natural grass fades from green to tan as it dries, blending with the native vegetation as it goes dormant over the season and must be replaced each season.
To enter the blind, a hunter steps onto one of the flotation pods, then onto the deck beside the engine. The camouflage materials on the bottom, starboard section at the stern can be opened for the dog to make retrieves and a custom dog ladder mounted to the starboard pod allows him to re-enter the boat.