Joe Muzynoski of Weston, Wis., always loved hunting geese, but he didn't see many near home. That changed during the past few years when resident geese populations started growing and migrants began stopping over. He wanted to hunt them, but had little gear and a tight budget.
"With limited funds, I decided to spend my money on decoys and build my layout blinds," Muzynoski said. "I've hunted from layout blinds, and they can't be beat."
Muzynoski came up with a basic concept: Buy grass mats to cover up with and throw them off when shooting."I improved on the basic concept in many ways," he said. "We shot so many geese out of my blinds, I still haven't bought a factory model."
Muzynoski tied two 4-foot-by-5-foot grass mats together with twine, overlapping them to become a single mat measuring 4 by 7 feet, and then sprayed the mat with camouflage paint.
"I didn't want the grass laying right on my chest, so I built a support frame using electrical conduit, consisting of two 4-foot straight sections, four elbow sections, two 6-inch sections, six connectors and two threaded rods," he said. "Each side support is made by connecting an elbow piece to each end of a 48-inch piece of conduit with conduit connectors, then connecting a 6-inch piece of conduit to the back elbow, leaving the back higher than the front."
The threaded rods were placed in holes drilled into the two side supports, and a nut on both sides of each side support ties everything together. Both threaded rods are set at a 10-inch height. The back threaded rod is mounted through the elbow pieces, and the front rod is set in holes drilled through the sides of the 48-inch side members.
The threaded rods are spaced 48 inches apart. The threaded rods also serve as rests, with the back rod supporting the backrest and the front rod holding up the gun barrel. Muzynoski spray-painted the assembly in a camouflage finish.
To protect the gun barrel, he padded the front threaded rod and added a gun holder to the right side to keep the gun upright and in a ready position. The gun rest is a piece of Romex electrical wire doubled for strength and bent to shape, with pieces of twine tied to the left side support (for a right-handed shooter) to attach the grass mat cover.
The backrest is 14-inch-by-27-inch plywood with two pieces of drab-colored carpet attached with screws. One piece of carpet covers the backrest, and the other connects to the bottom edge of the backrest, with the remainder of the carpet covering the ground beneath the hunter. If the ground is wet, a piece of brown plastic tarp goes under the carpet flap. Three pieces of carpet (4 by 14 inches) tied together in a bundle serve as a neck rest. Beneath the carpet, four bolts through the plywood lie over the back of the threaded rod, keeping the backrest in place at a comfortable angle.
The grass mat has a notch for the hunter's head, and a 3-foot section of bamboo is tied to the mat with twine. The bamboo prevents sagging by resting across the two side frames, allowing the hunter freedom of movement without moving the grass mat. The bamboo also acts as a handle to swing the mat to the side when the hunter is shooting.
"It's not better than a factory system but is less complicated to build this way," Muzynoski said. "Tying the mat to the left side of the frame acts like a hinge, preventing the mat from flying off."
Muzynoski built three layout blinds for $55 on a single Saturday, and it takes less than four minutes to set one of them up for hunting.