August 03, 2022
By Mike Marsh
A warm, calm dawn does not typically portend a day that’s “just ducky.” It was the first day of the second split of the season and the November sky showed not the faintest shadow of a single cloud. Yet, for Roger Tesson and his hunting buddies, it was about to rain ducks.
“We were sitting there, a half-hour into shooting light,” Tesson said. “We shot four wood ducks and were getting ready to pick them up when another group with gadwalls and teal came in. We dropped those ducks and were going out to pick them up when two of the guys who stayed in the blind shot into a flock of ringnecks. About 11 a.m., we were going to pick up, but decided to wait a little longer, when a flock of wigeons decoyed.”
Building the Floating Platform Duck Blind
Tesson and his fellow hunters Ron Lee, Tim Shaut and his cousin Shaut, had finished building the floating blind they were hunting a week before. Completed in 2021, it was the second floating blind they constructed. The first was built in 2020 and was named the River Blind. They called the second blind the Creek Blind. The area has so much competition for blind sites that Tesson declined to name the river or creek where his blinds are located.
“We hunt Chesapeake, Virginia where there are strict regulations about where you can build a blind,” Tesson said. “To get a blind license, a blind has to meet distance requirements from other blinds and there are also private property restrictions. It’s very difficult, almost impossible, to find a place to build a blind.”
Tesson lives in Norfolk, VA and is a heavy equipment mechanic. Now age 42, he started waterfowl hunting when he was 13. He shoots a 12-gauge Beretta autoloader stoked with Black Cloud 2s and 4s. He sets 3 or 4 dozen Avian-X, Greenhead Gear and Higdon decoys and shoots mostly puddle ducks along with some ringnecks. His yellow Lab, Xena, is always ready in the blinds’ dog compartments.
The only difference between the two blinds is the dimensions of the “shoot box.” The second blind’s shoot box is a foot wider at 6’x12’. The first blind’s shoot box is 5’x12’. The floating platforms are identical at 12’x14’. Details of the building process hereafter regard the construction of the second blind.
DIY Floating Platform Duck Blind Materials List
• 12 - Sheets 3/4 inch treated plywood
• 8 - 12-foot 4”x4”s
• 4 - 8 - foot 4”x4”s
• 2 - 10 - foot 4”x4”s
• 4 -16 - foot 4”x4”s
• 6 - 12-foot 2”x4”s
• 12 - 8-foot 2”x4”s
• 92 - Styrofoam blocks
• 2 - Rolls chicken wire
• Artificial Christmas trees
Total Cost: $400
(Most materials were either donated or rejected from construction sites)
Constructing the Floating Platform Duck Blind
The construction materials include treated wood posts, framing lumber and plywood. Flotation is provided by 92 Styrofoam blocks used for supporting trailer tongues obtained at a trailer sales business.
An overhead view of the blind shows four decks or “porches” projecting from the large central platform where the shoot box is located. The porches provide stability and ease of access for hunters entering the blind, attaching camouflage materials, and making repairs.
The platform was constructed on Tesson’s concrete driveway so it would be level and true. The flotation blocks measure 12”x12”x19” and were wrapped in 6 mm trash bags to prevent water from saturating them. They were locked into rows using wood 1”x4 ”s screwed to the bottom of the frame. The edges of the platform are wood 2”x12”s. Once the blind is in place, the buoyancy of the foam blocks keeps them from slipping out from beneath the platform.
The deck, shoot box walls and roof are 3/4” plywood, screwed in place. The shoot box support framing is made of 4”x4” posts with 2”x4” crossmembers and the roof framing is 2”x4” lumber. The walls are 48” high. The roof is 48” wide, leaving a 24” wide overhead shooting opening above the front wall. The roof is covered with a camouflage tarp, stapled in place.
While the back of the blind floats in shallow water, the front of the blind hovers 20 feet above the creek bottom. Therefore, posts cannot be used to support the front of the blind. The rear corners of the platform are held in place with 4”x4”x12’ wood posts driven into the bottom with a homemade driver made of 1/2” thick, 6”x6” square steel tubing. They stick up approximately 8 feet, with 2”x4” saddle framing holding the platform in place, allowing it to rise and fall with the tidal water. Two five-gallon, concrete-filled bucket anchors are connected to the blind with half-inch logging chains in case the saddle or 4" x 4" posts fail.
The starboard porch serves as the base for the dog compartment. Its roof slopes away from the blind to shed water and it has an interior opening so hunters can take ducks from the dog. Great Stuff aerosol foam was used to seal the gap between the roof and blind wall, as well as other construction gaps. An accordion-style ladder designed for assisting dogs in entering vehicles is stowed in the dog compartment.
Eight 12-foot 4”x4s” driven into the creek bottom support the 10’x24’ boat hide. The framing is 2”x4” lumber and the covering is military-style camouflage netting. Natural camouflage materials on the blind and boat hide are held in place with zip ties, parachute cord and staples.
Once the boat is in the hide, hunters enter the shoot box through a door at the starboard rear. A boxed-in bench seat stores three small emergency-exit batteries, rigged in parallel, for LED lights that illuminate the shoot box. The seat also stores stoves, cooking utensils, heaters, propane bottles and other gear.
“I have hunted out of boat blinds and deep-water river blinds,” Tesson said. “The deep-water blinds were built tall for super high tides, but ice still tore them out and we kept rebuilding them. The guy I hunted with then is in his 80s now, so he let his blind licenses go. That was when we started scouting to find places where we could hunt without encroaching on another blind’s radius or private property. The success we have from hunting our own floating blinds made it worth the trouble.”