Hard up for cash? Don’t let your financial woes stand in the way of your slaying ducks. With a little work, you can build a roomy, three-man duck blind for as little as $50. Colorado Front Range duck guru Tyler Baskfield walked me through the steps.
One of the blind’s major advantages, I quickly learned, besides its affordability, is its ease of transport. Baskfield hunts on a river and would lose his plywood blind every spring if he didn’t remove it, due to rising waters. Carrying rolled-up pieces of carpet is easier than hauling plywood to his spot each year. The blind is also great for folks who don’t own the land they hunt and can’t build a permanent structure. All told, the blind will not only save you money, but also the time and energy required to build a more temporary setup.
Five metal T-posts • 12 hose clamps • 6 1×1-inch boards • 1 2×4 board • A couple dozen beefy zip ties • 4 different muted colors of spray paint • Tape measure • Industrial carpet* • Shovel • Flat-head screwdriver • Handsaw
Post driver • Drill • Sawzall • Knife • A handful of deck screws
Start by cutting two 9×5-foot pieces of carpet. These will form the front and back of the blind. Next, cut a 6×5-foot piece for the side without the door, and a 4½x5-foot piece for the side with the door. Then, cut a 9×8-foot piece for the ceiling. The size of the ceiling piece will depend on how much space you’d like for shooting. Tip: Measure and cut the carpet before heading out to assemble the blind. It’s a pain to do it in the field.
Measure an 8×5-foot rectangle on the ground and drive a T-post into each corner. The T-posts should rise 4 feet above the ground. Drive the fifth T-post on the side where you want the door, about a foot and a half from what will be the front of the blind. Tip: A post driver is handy for this step, but not entirely necessary.
Place the 9×5-foot pieces of carpet just below the top of the T-posts and start attaching them with zip ties to form the front and back walls of the blind. The best way to do this is to poke holes in the carpet with a knife and then thread the zip ties through, starting at the top of the T-post and working down. Space the zip ties about a foot apart, running down the posts. Secure the two shorter pieces of carpet to the sides of the blind the same way; the 4½x5 piece is for the side with the door.
Note: The dimensions of the carpet pieces above are slightly larger than the measurements of the blind, so you can trim and tighten as needed. This is a duck blind, not the Sistine Chapel—you just need to make sure each side of the blind is covered.
Set the 1×1-inch boards vertically on the inside of the T-Posts and attach them with the steel screw clamps. Like with the zip ties, do this by poking holes in the carpet and threading the clamps through. To ensure the boards are sturdy, use three clamps on each corner of the blind. You can tighten the clamps with a flathead screwdriver, but a drill makes the process faster.
Stand in the blind and determine how high you want the front and back of the ceiling. Pretend to aim your shotgun at different points in the sky to figure out what feels right. The front should be a decent bit higher than the back. Then, use a handsaw, or a Sawzall, to cut the 1x1s to the appropriate height.
Screw the 2×4 plank between the blind’s back vertical posts. Along the sides of the blind, attach the last two 1×1 boards to the forward and back posts. (We used driftwood instead.) Deck screws or screw clamps work well for this if you don’t have a drill or screws on hand. So, you should now have the 2×4 plank running across the back of the blind and the 1×1 boards along the sides. Tip: If there are long, relatively straight pieces of wood in the area, you can use them for the roof supports, like we did. This will further lower supply costs.
Pull the 9×8-foot piece of carpet over the top of the wood frame, then attach it with zip ties around the perimeter, tightening it as you go. Carpet is heavy and can sag, so to keep the ceiling piece from obstructing your view, you can cut a semicircle from the forward section if needed. This will give you more sky to see birds come in. Tip: If the ceiling is too low, grab a shovel and dig out the ground as much as needed.
Spray paint the outside of the blind as you see fit. Breaking up the sides with shadows and lines goes a long way in helping obscure the blind. Look around, though, and try to mimic the color and texture of the nearby vegetation. Tip: Always use flat-finish spray paint. Primer is inexpensive and effective.
Shovel dirt or sand around the base of the blind to hide where it meets the ground. This will also help insulate and strengthen the structure.
#10. Cover the blind with dead vegetation. Start with big pieces, then work down to small stuff. If you’re in or near a cornfield, you can zip tie stalks to the structure instead. Or if you happen to have willows in the area, cut down some in advance of building the blind; they retain their leaves when they die and make for good camouflage.
Now go and make a pile of mallards.
- You can find discarded industrial carpet at construction sites, but if you have to purchase some, buy a piece large enough to wrap around a 5×8-foot box with a roof. We had to buy a piece and it cost us an extra $50.