Hunters aiming at a flock over a field
An incoming flock decoys in tight over a dry-field setup. Brian Grossenbacher

Layout field blinds can help you disappear before the eyes of wary geese and ducks, or they can flare every bird that gets close enough to see the decoys. Whether you trudge back to the truck weighed down with your limit or an empty bird strap largely depends on how well you hide your blind. Here’s how to turn a hunter-size duffel bag into just another lump of innocent stubble.

1. Cover the blind with mud.

Yes, you shelled out a couple hundred bucks for a spanking-new layout, but your first task is to coat the entire thing with mud. New fabric has a sheen that flashes like a mirror, and you have to dull the shine. Don’t hold back. Mix thick mud in a bucket and slather it on with a mop or paintbrush. Once it dries, give the blind a light shake to dislodge large clods, but otherwise, keep as much dirt on the blind as possible.

2. Bring yard tools to help brush in.

Working natural cover like crop stubble, grasses, and stalks into your blind’s stubble straps is a crucial step in hiding effectively. Add pruning shears, hedge shears, and a lawn rake to your field gear list. As you’re setting up in the dark, a couple of hunters should be tasked with gathering loads of cover that match the surroundings. These hand tools cut the time required by half. Don’t spoil the look of your hunting area by gathering material near the blinds, though. Move a few dozen yards away.

Hidden waterfowl hunting blind
Plenty of natural vegetation is the key to making a layout blind vanish from sight. Brian Grossenbacher

3. Dig in your blind.

Early-morning light on a field blind can cast a 20-foot shadow and spook birds from a hundred yards. Dig a 6-inch—or deeper—pit to fit the footprint of the blind. This will lower the profile and reduce the shadow. Place a couple of decoys to the west of the blind to soften up the harsh outlines of its shadow.

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4. Get rid of the metal supports in your blind.

Late-season birds are particularly wary of bumps in fields. Vanish by crawling into the blind without setting up the internal metal rail structure. Prop your head on your shell bag and stay still. Is it as comfortable as a blind that’s fully set up? Nope. But carrying a full game strap will make you feel better.

5. Set your blind up the night before.

On still, cold evenings, try to set up in the dark the night before a hunt. Frost-free blinds are darker than blinds skimmed in the white stuff, which makes a difference during that first half-hour until body heat melts the frost.

6. Keep brushing in after the shooting starts.

Once you’ve kicked the blind doors open several times, take a few minutes, maybe while the dogs are working, to freshen the cover in your stubble straps. You need to be just as covered up an hour after shooting time as you were in the dark.