A Re-Fab Duck Boat

Plus, two unique blind ideas for the water and dry ground.

Petersen's Refurbished Duck Boat
George E. Petersen Sr. began his boat blind project with an old discarded duck boat of unknown manufacture. The 14-foot fiberglass boat required extensive repair to the hull and cockpit area as the first order of business.


George Petersen Sr. refurbished an old fiberglass duck boat, extending the cockpit frame higher with short pieces of aluminum tent poles holding a Nylon fabric splashguard. Wire was glued to the outside of the boat with construction adhesive for the purpose of holding artificial grass camouflage.

"I wanted to raise the six-foot long cockpit sides from two inches to 12 inches for safety and concealment," Petersen said. "To accomplish this, I used aluminum tent poles by cutting them to a 16-inch lengths and attached them with 3⁄4-inch plastic pipe hangers screwed every 12 inches along the outside of the existing fiberglass cockpit frame with one-inch screws. The stern of the cockpit was left open for entry and motor use. I used 15 aluminum poles and hangers to surround the cockpit."


The poles were somewhat flexible affixed with only the pipe hangers on the cockpit sides, allowing a Nylon cloth to be attached to act as a splashguard to prevent spray from drenching the hunter. The total length of Nylon fabric required to surround the entire area of the cockpit was 14 feet. The Nylon splashguard was hemmed and two-inch fabric pockets were sewn onto the 14-foot piece at 12-inch spacing to form pockets for sliding the fabric onto the poles. The splashguard was attached to each pole using plastic zip ties. "Not wanting to drill into the watertight top to attach grass rails, I decided to use one-inch by one-inch heavy plastic wire mesh as a base for attaching grass to the boat," he said.

"Having a six-foot wide roll of wire, I laid it out on the top of the boat and cut out the basic outline. Where it covered the cockpit, I cut down the center and along the front and back to give me the required 12-inch high cockpit sides. A separate 12-inch by 24-inch piece of wire was required for covering the font of the cockpit and was attached to the base boat wire using zip ties."


To attach the wire to the boat, Petersen used dabs of construction adhesive every three inches along the outside of the hull. He began at the bow, gluing down only three feet of wire at a time, allowing the adhesive to set before moving along toward the stern. "It took 10 days in the summer heat to get all of the wire glued down," Petersen said. "But I haven't had any separation. It's important to center each dab of adhesive on the mesh corner to insure good adhesion."

Once the wire was secured with adhesive, Petersen bent it along the front and sides of the cockpit, attaching it to the top of the tent pole sections with zip ties. This made the cockpit sides rigid and ready for grassing.

"I used home dyed Killer Weed to grass the entire boat," he said. "I used the traditional loop knot to secure the grass to each corner, three strands at a time. It took me about 50 hours, using different shades of the dyed grass to match the fall marsh, to add all of the Killer Weed. Once grassing was completed, I trimmed the grass at the water line to reduce icing."

Manion's Wild Wings Aluminum Pit Blind
Gene Manion of Gananoque Ontario said he created a lightweight pit blind of aluminum sheeting for hunting geese, mallards and pintails in corn stubble, winter wheat and harvested soybean fields. He named it the Wild Wings Pit Blind.

Manion's Wild Wings Pit Blind is constructed of welded aluminum. The tabs on the corners allow the blind to be cabled to concrete or other anchors to prevent flotation.

"It is economical and provides ample cover for three hunters and a retriever," Manion said. "It has seats on both sides for ease of shooting in different wind conditions. The seats are wood (two- by 12-inch lumber) installed at a height of 14 inches above the floor, but the metal seat bracket can be adjusted to any level chosen by the hunter."

The pit blind's covers are left partially opened when hunters are inside with the open area used as a shooting port. Manion said that fiberglass blinds of similar size cost twice as much as his aluminum pit.

The pit is welded construction and weighs 300 pounds. The cost of the pit, which was constructed by a professional welding shop (Martin Fabricating, Inc., Inverary, Ontario, Canada), was approximately $1,000. The dimensions are 31⁄2 feet wide, 71⁄2 feet long and four feet high. An aluminum tab with a hole in the center welded to each corner of the blind allows the pit to be cabled to concrete anchors in the soil to prevent flotation in wet conditions. The floor is coated with non-skid paint.

Brackets for steps are welded to the sides and brackets for a dog bench are welded at one end. The dog bench is elevated to acts as a step for hunters entering and exiting the blind. When the pit is buried, the top edge is allowed to remain four inches above grade to prevent water entry. The bind covers are welded aluminum, painted brown to match the soil. They are covered with natural vegetation and merely slid partially open to provide the shooters' port.

Deeg's Flying Hay Bale
Jeremy Deeg of Richland Indiana named his boat blind the "Flying Hay Bale. It is built on a 1974, Model1648 Lowe aluminum johnboat.

Manion's Wild Wings pit blind's welded aluminum construction with lightweight aluminum covers keeps hunters warm and dry. When the blind is in use, the covers are slid partially open and covered with natural vegetation.

"I bought the boat in 1996 when I graduated from high school," Deeg said. "I originally bought it for fishing purposes, long before entering the world of duck hunting. It was evident that I needed to change a few things in order to use it for duck hunting. Within five years of the harsh environment, the wood and carpet were destroyed so I stripped it down to the bare aluminum."

Deeg found a material to use for the floor at a plastic company that consisted of an aluminum skin over both sides of a 1⁄4-inch thick rigid plastic core. He said it reduced the boat's weight

compared to using plywood and will not absorb moisture. He filled the space beneath the floor with foam.

"After cutting the sheets to fit and riveting it to the ribs in the bottom of the boat, the whole boat was primed and painted olive drab. I then took a spray-on rubberized paint similar to spray-on bed liner to give the boat a non-slip coating when conditions get wet and to absorb the sound of movement in the boat. Then the whole boat got one of the camouflage paint jobs I am often asked to do by many local duck hunters.

The gas tank, dry storage compartment and motor were all painted with the same camouflage pattern and the boat looks like it just came off the assembly line, not like an old 1974 model. I also added a bilge pump, a pump for a future live well and new wiring for the rest of the boat."

Jeremy Deeg's Flying Hay Bale uses a simple socket and pin assembly to hold the blind together and in place on the boat. Oarlocks are used as attachment points to hold the blind on the boat. The frame is aluminum conduit, covered with netting and artificial grass.

The blind construction was the next project. Deeg wanted a blind that would be rigid and strong to handle years of abuse. It also needed to be lightweight like the hull so the boat could be maneuvered into shallow sloughs and cornfields where most of his duck hunting takes place. The blind had to be rustproof and it also had to be capable of installation or removal by one person with no tools in a matter of minutes.

"After creating a game plan, I quickly chose to use aluminum conduit for the blind frame material," Deeg said. "The boat already had two oar locks mounted on the gunwales so I decided to use them as mounting points for the blind. I purchased four more oarlocks and mounted them to the front and back of the boat. I then took 1-inch conduit couplings and attached a plug with a hole drilled through the center in order for a bolt to go through it and fasten to the oarlocks, creating six points of attachment for the blind. I then threaded one-inch conduit into the couplings and cut the conduit down to three inches in length.

This created the perfect socket to slide in a piece of 3⁄4-inch conduit, which would be used to construct the main course of the blind." The conduit was bent to the configuration of the blind. Then the 3⁄4-inch conduit pieces were welded into a skeleton framework for the blind. Once welded to shape, the conduit frame ends slid into the one-inch conduit mount fittings perfectly. A hole was drilled through the one-inch mounts and through the 3⁄4-inch conduit frame ends while they were fitted together.

A snap pin passed through both pieces at each socket holds the blind to the boat. The snap pins allow the blind to quickly be attached or detached by one person using no tools in a few minutes. Snap pins also join the sides and back of the blind for easy takedown and set-up. Anti-seize lubricant was applied to the one-inch conduit socket mounts to ensure easy mounting and dismounting of the blind. The blind frame was then primed and painted to match the boat camouflage scheme.

The next step was adding camouflage material to the frame. The foundation was a net material zip-tied to each half of the frame. The excess material was cut off so the net fit the contours of the boat. Once the netting was attached, artificial grass was added for years of worry free, rot free use and abuse. Once the grass was attached, it was painted using cans of flat aerosol paint in brown, black and olive drab colors. Deeg said he would be adding a waterproof membrane to the blind in the future.

"The first day the boat saw action since construction was in the backwater of the Ohio River," Deeg said. "It must have passed inspection by the local waterfowl because they never saw it until it was too late. I took my little brother along and it was his introduction to the sport. He bagged his first bird, a Canada goose, with his first shot and the bird was right in his face. It was truly a remarkable day knowing all the hard work paid off. We have named it the Flying Hay Bale because that's what it looks like when you're driving down the highway."

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