April 26, 2023
Tyson Spencer raised his shotgun and fired, missing the first of a cascade of Canada geese that would be deceived by the decoys over the course of the day. The 13-year-old was hunting with his father, Brent “Spence” Spencer, from a boat blind that was the brainchild of Dave Adamson.
“It was our one-day Youth Waterfowl Hunt and the first hunt from my new boat blind,” Adamson said. “It was September 2017 and the day was warm with light, intermittent rain. I had hunted the Bear River in Northern Utah before, but not in that particular spot. After the long drive from home and the boat ride, we arrived two hours before shooting time. Spence was leery of sticking the boat out in the open, but I wanted it to be a good first test of the boat’s new blind. I pulled the boat up in front of some phragmites and cattails and stuck two pieces of rebar into the bottom on the water side to hold it in place. After shooting time, the first goose pitched in the decoys right out in front. Several big flocks of geese also came by, but we don’t shoot at any big flocks early in the season to avoid educating them. Tyson missed three or four geese that came in singles and pairs and some ducks. He wound up with a gadwall, a mallard, a green-winged teal and two Canada geese.”
Adamson is a 66-year-old retiree from the food sales and management industry. He lives in Centerville, Utah and began hunting when he was age two at a duck club on Great Salt Lake with his father’s cousin, Steve Adamson.
He shoots a Beretta A400, loading it with No. 2 and 5 BOSS Shotshells bismuth ammo. His decoy spreads consist of 4 dozen Big Foot Canadas, 4 dozen Cabela’s Canadas and several dozen of various makes of mallards, gadwall and other duck decoys. Most of the ducks he takes are mallards, gadwall, green-winged teal, wigeon, common goldeneyes, redheads, and canvasbacks.
Adamson had built several permanent blinds in various places, but grew tired of having to brush and maintain them, usually alone. Also, they were on public waters 70 miles or more from his home. Local hunters often beat him to them because blinds on public waters in Utah are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
He already owned a 2011 LOWE Roughneck 1760 when, in 2017, he decided to try hunting from a boat blind. After seeing some manufacturers’ blinds on other boats, he decided a custom blind would be better and contacted Chuck Harsin of Widowmaker Boats, who builds custom airboats and mud boats for Great Salt Lake hunters.
“I wanted a hard-sided blind and he had not built one, but he said ‘There’s a first time for everything,’” Adamson said. “His shop was 20 minutes away. I went there to consult with him each week, sitting in the blind to get the height right, put the doors in the right places and other details. He built it in about 6 weeks.”
Blind Materials List
- 150 Feet - 1-inch square aluminum tubing.
- 30 Feet – 1-inch round aluminum tubing.
- 5 Sheets – 0.050-inch aluminum sheeting.
- Aluminum Rivets
- 16 - Stainless Steel Nuts and Bolts, ¼-inch
- 1 Roll - Plastic Construction Fencing
- 65 Pounds – Raffia grass
Total Cost: $4,000
The Lightweight Aluminum Duck Boat Blind
The frame is made of 1” square and round aluminum tubing and is attached to the gunwale tops with 16 stainless steel bolts and nuts. The skin is 0.050” aluminum. The frame was cut, fitted and welded together. The skin was form-fitted and riveted to the frame.
After he towed it home, Adamson attached green plastic construction fencing with self-tapping screws and fender washers. Then he knotted raffia grass to the fencing for camouflage.
A 24” high door on the bow runs the width of the bow cap. A 12”H aluminum lip on the back of the bow cap keeps decoys from slipping onto the floor. Decoys in the bow compartment can be reached from inside, or from the outside by opening the door, which drops down on a piano hinge.
The 40”x40” entry door is on the starboard side, aft of the side console. It opens forward and is held in place while the boat is underway by a chain and carabiner. Another 24”Wx40H” door forward of the console allows access to gear and decoys. An 18” x 60” door on the port side provides access to a custom aluminum gun and gear box.
A custom engine cover, sewn by a boat canvas company, hides the engine. In addition, a raffia grass flap attached to the frame drapes over the engine. The overhead center shooting port is 22” x 54” and was changed from its original single-cover design to a dual-cover design with lighter-weight tubing than the rest of the frame after the original single cover was too heavy. The double covers are usually left open and can be closed instantly when ducks or geese are working the decoys.
An Avery dog ladder is used at dog ports on either side, aft of the console. Dura Cover and raffia grass curtain hide the dog ports. Hunters sit on swivel seats. A third hunter sits on a bucket at the bow.
When the original Comfort trailer became unusable, Adamson had Harsin build a custom trailer. When he began hunting in Idaho as well, Adamson stored the boat in a rented building to save wear and tear on the trailer. He also replaced the original 2017 50 hp Mercury 2-stroke outboard with a 2018 90 hp Mercury 4-stroke engine because, with three hunters and a dog onboard, the original engine did not have enough power to plane the boat.
The blind weighs 350 pounds with camouflage materials attached. A forklift is used to remove it after the hunting season and it is stored in a shed.
“It was supposed to cost $3,000 but the price kept going up until it ultimately cost $4,000 to build,” Adamson said. “My wife calls it the Money Pit. But Chuck said it would take at least double that amount to build it now, with the cost of materials shooting sky high.”
And hey, it's the LAST blind he'll ever need to build!