July 14, 2021
By Mike Marsh
On a blustery Saturday, midway through the December segment of the 2020 duck season, Greg Geoffroy was hunting at his lease near Rockefeller Refuge. He and his buddies, Tim McBride and David Delahoussaye, were having a banner day.
"It was extremely cold, with temperatures in the low 30s," Geoffroy said. "It was our first time in the new floating blind when we saw birds flying all over the bayou and we shot 12 teal. The blind was so stable it didn't bother the ducks. They flew right into the decoys."
Floating an Idea
A resident of Lafayette, Louisiana, Geoffroy, age 48, began hunting with his father, Conway Geoffroy, when he was 14. An oil-and-gas landman, he is a go-between for drilling companies and property owners. He shoots a Beretta Xtrema loaded with 3-inch No. 6s and sets Dakota Decoys to attract mostly gadwalls and blue-winged and green-winged teal at his hunting lease near Chenier, Louisiana. His female Boykin spaniel's name is June.
Geoffroy's ingenious floating blind allows hunters to sit or stand to shoot with their legs below the water level. The idea evolved from a similar land-based semi-pit blind. "The original blind was a stationary platform," he said. "It was in the marsh and had a 150-yard wooden walkway for access. One day, the landowner notified me that they were going to do a marsh burn and the blind and walkway could have gone up in smoke. But we moved it in time."
In the low marsh, ducks flare from anything sticking above the grass. The original blind had three 55-gallon barrels with their tops cut off, which allowed hunters to sit with their legs inside them to lower their profile. A similar floating blind would preclude fire danger, but would have to provide a platform more stable than a boat. "Louisiana hunters love food," he said. "I weigh 200 pounds and my buddies weigh 250 pounds. A boat rocks and rolls when we stand up to shoot."
He built the floating blind during the summer of 2020. In late summer and fall, the blind took direct hits by Hurricane Laura, which hammered it with 140 mph winds and Delta, which pushed it around with 111 mph winds. First, he named it the USS Laura, which didn't budge it. Then he renamed the USS Elle-Dee, after the hurricane'd initials L-D after Delta's storm surge floated it from its moorings 75 feet into the marsh.
The blind is made with treated 2" lumber and has four 55-gallon barrel floats. They were foam-filled by a local insulation company at a cost of $100 each. Attached with metal ductwork straps, they float horizontally, two in front and two in back. Three barrels with their tops cut off to leave 30 inches of height were set upright in the center for hunters to put their legs inside. They sit on the deck and stand up inside the barrels to shoot. Each upright barrel is attached to the deck framing with four lag screws. Foam pipe insulation around the top edges of the barrels fills the gaps. When the barrel tops were cut off, two inches of the barrel walls remained attached. When hunters leave the blind, the tops are replaced to prevent rainwater from entering the barrels. A hand-pump removes any water.
The front of the frame angles inward to reduce the blind's wind resistance and prevent shadows that might alert decoying ducks. The top is 18 inches above the deck. When hunters stand, the shooting height is 48 inches from the barrel bottoms to the top of the framing.
The blind is tied to four 8-foot 4x4s driven into the mud and to eyebolts at each corner. It is tied cross-cornered with two ropes during a hunt. It can be towed quickly to other locations with preset posts to take advantage of the wind direction or towed back to the ramp and hauled to another hunting area.
"It's so stable and comfortable that I brought my 19-year-old daughter, Abigail, along on December 24, 2020. The temperature was 39 degrees and the wind was blowing 30 mph. She doesn't hunt, but is an LSU graphic design student, photographer and artist. Ducks were coming to the decoys from everywhere and I shot a six-duck limit of three blue-wings, a green-wing and two gray ducks. We saw the sunrise, watched June retrieve, and enjoyed that special time of sharing the art of duck hunting and passing it along to next generation."