The morning dawned clear and calm. With the air temperature in the mid-30s to low 40s, it was just a typical January morning on Maryland’s Chester River. Philip Peacock and his hunting buddy, Kenny Carpenter, were set up near a shore blind that Peacock had built.
“I wanted to hunt out of my new boat blind instead of from the shore blind,” Peacock said. “The boat blind is easier to hunt out of and much more comfortable. We put out about eight dozen Greenhead Gear canvasback and bluebill decoys. About 40 minutes later, a nice group of birds showed up.”
The ducks turned out to be canvasbacks. When the shooting was over, Peacock had downed two hens and Carpenter, a handsome drake.
“They were the first canvasbacks either of us had ever shot,” he said. “They just dove right into the decoys, ignoring the boat blind as though it wasn’t even there. I wish I had paid closer attention to what I was shooting because it would have been nice to shoot a drake for my first canvasback. I have been hunting puddle ducks and geese for a long time, but the hunting season of 2019-2020 was the first time I hunted diving ducks.”
Peacock lives in Galena, Maryland and is employed as a process operator for the Delaware City Oil Refinery. He is 35 years old and has been hunting waterfowl since he was 13. He started hunting Canada geese with a buddy who access to 80 acres of farm fields and a blind. Eventually, he decided to take to the water and began hunting ducks with another buddy who had a blind on the Sassafras River.
He shoots Black Cloud in a Beretta Xtreme autoloader, loading steel 3-inch No. 2 and 4 shot for ducks and 3½-inch BBs for geese. The bulk of his mallard, gadwall, wigeon, canvasback and scaup decoys are GHG.
“Charlie Long took me hunting in the Delaware River and I enjoyed it so much that I decided I needed my own boat,” he said. “In 2018, I bought a 2004 War Eagle 2072 with a 2004 115 horsepower Yamaha four-stroke outboard sitting on a Load Rite trailer. It was used as a crabbing boat. We began building the blind in September 2019 and it wasn’t finished until December. Charlie built the frame and I helped with the skin and furring strips.”
The blind frame is made of aluminum angle that is welded together. The base is made of 2-inch angle and the uprights, top and doors are made of 1-inch angle. The bottom of the frame is attached to the boat with bolts and nuts along the boat’s T-Lock Cap Rail system. The rear edges of the blind are also screwed to the stern seat. The frame extends rearward, overhanging the engine and the compartment created by the frame, which is covered with a tiki grass mat that completely hides the engine while allowing access and freedom of movement for navigation.
The steering console is on the starboard side, which is also the shooting side. The port side is approximately four feet high and the starboard side is approximately 3.5 feet high. A door above flips open toward the stern to give the helmsman access. It rotates open on two bolts that act as axles, inserted through homemade pivot points attached to the top framework. A door in the starboard side at the console seat allows access for hunters and Duke, Peacock’s yellow Lab. The other access door is located in the frame at the center of the bow platform. These two access doors swing open sideways on piano hinges.
Six 24”x36” rectangular shooting port covers made of 1”x 4” furring strips cover the center shooting gap between the two sides. They are not attached, but are stowed in the boat during transit. During a hunt, the shooting port covers hide the open space between hunters. Hunters can also situate them at any shooting position to hide their faces.
The blind’s skin is made of 16-gauge aluminum sheeting. It was cut to fit and secured to the frame with pop rivets. Sharp edges were made safe by using a Tiger Paw wheel on an angle grinder. The furring strips were attached by stainless steel screws that penetrate the skin and continue into the frame. The blind was painted with drab green aerosol paint and tiki hut mats were attached to the furring strips using an electric stapler loaded with stainless steel staples.
To get the boat ready for fishing after hunting season ends, the blind is so light that two hunters can lift it off and rest it on wooden pallets. The tiki hut mats are pulled free and the staples come off with the mats. The mats are rolled up and stored indoors to prevent them from deteriorating in the elements. The blind cost just over $1,000 to build.
The boat blind is large enough to accommodate five hunters comfortably. It has two swivel seats in the bow, a bench seat amidships and a swivel seat at the console. Up to 12 dozen decoys can be stowed in bags. A Camp Chef stove cooks breakfast and warms cold hands. The dog enters and exits the boat to retrieve ducks via a Momarsh dog ladder set at the console door.
“On one of our last days of the season, we were alternating turns hunting from an offshore blind and from my boat blind,” Peacock said. “My dad Jim Peacock, my nephew Joey Peacock, Kenny Carpenter, his brother-in-law Davy Gingerich and Charlie Long were on the hunt. We each shot a limit of bluebills and we also got a bonus bufflehead. It was the best test of my boat blind in an open water situation. The diving ducks were so oblivious to it they were landing in the decoys.”