Monday, November 06, 2006

10 Ways to be one with the Fields and Waters

1. With the proverbial bird's-eye view of their surroundings, waterfowl can easily spot you if you're not well hidden. To consistently bring them into gun range, you need to be invisible. Here are 10 tips for staying unseen.

2. Hide your face. A turkey hunting headnet works as well in the marsh as it does in the woods. It's hard to resist the temptation to sneak a peek skyward at working birds, so make sure you cover up.

3. Put out a snow goose spread next to your mallard decoys if you're hunting ducks in a field where the cover is too short to hide in. Then simply don some white clothing, and blend in with the "geese."

4. Make your came burlap even more effective at hiding you or your boat by cutting holes in the material and weaving in cattails and other native material, or raffia (available at hunting-supply and craft stores).

5. Be conscious of the telltale shadows thrown by laydown blinds in fields on sunny days. Try to position your blind in a dip or behind a knoll to hide the shadow. Alternatively, position several of them very close together; for some reason, all their shadows combined into one seems to be less alarming to waterfowl. You can also break up the rectangular outline of these shaded areas by adding a few decoys around the edges.

6. Use a super-magnum goose shell as an impromptu laydown blind. Just lie on your back in the field and cover yourself up to the chest with the decoy. To shoot, flip the lightweight shell out of the way. You can also train your retrievers to lie under a shell and watch from beneath the tail.

7. Cut branches for disguising permanent blinds before the first frost so the leaves stay on them. And while you're at it, cut plenty of extra brush. No matter how many times you've done this chore, it always seems to take twice as much material as you think it will to cover the blind. Besides, you will probably need additional brush later for touch-ups or repairs as the season goes on.

8. Keep a low profile in a duck marsh by sitting in a folding lawn chair. These lightweight and inexpensive seats are easy to carry into your hunting area. Once there, sink the legs into the mud where there's sufficient cover to hide your upper body. Then sit and shoot.

9. Be creative. A blind doesn't have to look like one if the birds are accustomed to its presence and it conceals movement. A dilapidated row-boat, an old ramshackle blind, even a discarded appliance will shield you. One group of Southerners I know of hunted ducks successfully for an entire season from an abandoned school bus that had run off the levee of the ricefield they leased.

10. Use branches and even logs to make your hideout look like a bulldozed brushpile when you're making a big, permanent blind in a cropfield. Build it as big and as comfortable as you want, because ducks and geese accept such piles as part of the agricultural landscape.

11. Tuck yourself into the native vegetation on walk-in hunts. Very often, nature provides the best waterfowl blind, especially if you can position yourself under some overhead cover where shadows will help hide you. Use a fanny pack to carry in ratchet clippers, a small saw, and long plastic cable ties. This way, you'll have the right tools handy if you need to rearrange or bundle the foliage around you.

By: Philip Bourjaily, Field & Stream