Duck Hunting: How to Use a Gillie Suit Where There’s No Place to Hide

It’s a common plight of duck hunters: There are plenty of birds, but there’s nowhere to hide. The water is too shallow for a boat, too deep for a layout blind, and there’s just enough standing vegetation to conceal a skinny meadow mouse. That’s when you slip on that raffia-grass gillie poncho and put yourself in the middle of things. Here’s how to transform into the waterfowling version of Cousin Itt.

The Suit
You can make your own, which can be labor-intensive. Stitch raffia grass, which is sold at such places as Mack's Prairie Wings (mackspw.com) under the name of Avery KillerWeed, onto a lightweight tan or brown jacket. Buying a field-ready suit is undeniably easier. A poncho like the Ghillie Parka ($69; red​rock​outdoorgear.com) is all you'll really need for shallow marshes. The only thing to do prior to the hunt is soften the new shine a bit. Fill a 5-gallon bucket halfway with garden dirt, and dampen with water to a pancake-batter consistency. Lay the gillie flat, and brush mud onto the raffia with an old broom. Let dry, flip the poncho over, and repeat. Shake when dry to get rid of the excess.

The Gear
Rig'Em Right's Hand Warmer Gear Belt ($39; rigemright.com) puts shotshells, calls, snacks, and other trinkets conveniently at waist level. Binoculars can be worn on a chest harness. Shotgun slings make for free hands, too. A 5-­gallon bucket, with lid, doubles as a seat and dry storage for extra gear. A small swatch of camouflage comes in handy for hiding anything the gillie doesn't.

The Location
Set yourself as close as possible to what vegetation does exist. If none is around, scout the birds to find the best place to hide. Your goal is to become an unassuming muskrat house, so set decoys in a random pattern around you, but no farther than 20 yards away. Leave a small landing hole on the downwind side and place three to four blocks at your feet and sides. Some previous clay-target practice while fully draped and seated can help you prepare for the shots you'll have. And there should be many.

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