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Decoying Canada Geese
by B.C. Maxima



A Five Part Mini-Series
May-      A Brief Overview: What it takes to be successful
June-     Location: Finding the perfect field
July-      Concealment: Get down and cover up
August- Decoys and Calling: The hard facts
Sept.-   The Hunt: Tieing it all together



Part 3 Concealment: Get down and cover up!

Tim Ground's famous statement “Get Down and Cover Up” seems to sum it up best.  Concealing yourself is a major priority in being successful in the goose field… and that isn’t the easiest thing to do.   

Hiding yourself in the spread can be a very tedious project if you are not properly equipped and watching flock after flock  flare off your decoy spread at 60 yards because they are continuously picking you out, can be more than frustrating!  As the hunting season progresses and those honkers start getting hunted harder and harder concealment begins to play an increasingly larger role in your success.  There are many different approaches in camouflaging today.  Pit blinds, layout blinds, homemade blinds and covering up with decoys in the spread can all be used successfully if done properly.  However, each one works best in different situations.  In this article we will discuss when to use a pit blind over a layout blind, which ground blinds are worth the money and how to place your blind in the spread.

Pit Blinds vs. Layout Blinds

Although pit blinds are the ultimate in concealment and comfort, they are not always the best solution.  The ideal situation for a Pit blind is in a field adjacent to a major waterfowl refuge where new migratory bids are consistently coming through all season long.  The reason being is that you need new birds in the area to consistently kill birds. If you are hunting the same flock of birds for more than a couple weeks, sooner or later they will get wise to the field you are hunting and no matter how well you are concealed and there is no moving a pit!  Another problem is getting permission from the landowner to install a pit and if you are able to leave it in the ground permanently.  Crop rotation the following year can also put a damper on your favorite spot.  If you are able to gain access to a prime field in the area of your choice a little leg work will pay off for you, but I would definitely recommend having several different options available in addition to your favorite pit.  

Layout Blind Comparisons

Since Final Approach came out with the original “Slider Blind” back in the early ‘90’s, there has been a huge influx of field layout blinds onto the waterfowl hunting market.  The ideal layout blind will incorporate the following qualities:  it needs to conceal the hunter effectively, it needs to be comfortable and still allow the hunter to shoot without any constrictions, it needs to be low profile and durable, it needs to be easily set up and moved, it should allow room for your four legged hunting buddy and it needs to be competitively priced.

That being said lets review some of the top blinds on the market today.  
One of the most popular layout blinds available is the Final Approach “Pro Guide Eliminator.”  This product is very popular because it is durable, comfortable, low profile, has camo straps for added concealment and it also fits the big boys.  In addition, there is room for your dog if you can teach him to lay behind the seat.  The downfalls to this blind are- the new version called the “Top Gun” has a new seat that is not as comfortable, the side poles may need to be replaced from time to time, it does not fit in a 6’ truck bed well and it is priced at around $400.00.


The other Final Approach product “The X Lander” is also a very good product that is a little more economically priced at around $270.00.  This blind is a lower profile blind than the Eliminator, it virtually disappears even in a minimal amount of ground cover, it sets up much quickly than the Eliminator and it can be backpacked into the field.  The downfalls to this blind are; there is not much room to move around in this one and the big men have trouble keeping the flaps closed, again there is a lack of room for a dog unless he is a little guy and will sit zipped up in a very small spot behind the seat and it is a little tougher to shoot out of if the birds are not right in your face.

Avery puts out a nice line of layout blinds including the “Sean Stall Big Man Blind”.  This one is designed for the hunter who packs a few more pounds into his personal space.  There is plenty of room for a dog at your feet, the floor is waterproof, it is durable and it sets up fairly easy.  However this blind does sit up higher that most which may cause a problem in areas with little cover available and it is priced well over $300.00.

Beavertail also has a nice product that is priced at around $300.00.  It is one of the lowest profile blind available and there is not much to setting this one up in the dark.  It unrolls like a sleeping bag and it is very roomy which makes it comfortable for the larger hunter.  The only problem is that there is nothing to cover your head so face paint or a mask is a necessity.  Your dog also needs his own blind and it is a little harder to flag and call without being spotted.
 

The last line of blinds we will cover are the Goose View blinds.  Their original claim to fame was the monster Hay Bail blind.  This product is designed to fit 2 or 3 hunters inside it, sitting comfortably on chairs and still be able to hunt within the decoy spread.  In fields with bails of hay, or in areas of little hunting pressure this is a great product.  Myself, I am not sold on the fact that wary birds are not bothered at the site of a huge block in the middle of the spread and the price on one of these bad boys is over $500.00.  But it is nice for the older gentlemen who have trouble getting in and out of the layout blinds.  
This year Goose View has come out with a new product called the Exterminator!  This blind is a very nice product which has tried to incorporate everything into one.  This one offers more room to move around, it is comfortable and has a foot entrance for your dog.  It is also easy to set up, it comes in a cornfield camo pattern and reasonably priced at around $300.00.  The only downfall to this blind is that it does sit up a little high and it is tough to make shots from side as the bar across your legs gets in the way.

Many hunters are very creative and like to try their hand at building their own versions of the factory blinds, adding their own improvements.  For some hunters that is a great way to save a little money and have a blind that may be more effective and creative than those available in the retail outlets.  However, I have gone that route and with limited skills, have been stuck with a mess of parts that once was something nice, but by the end of the trip looked more like something you would find in your kid’s backyard fort than in a productive goose hunter’s arsenal.  Bottom line if you have the time and skills this is a great way to go, but for the average hunter a couple more hours spent working to pay for a new blind is time well spent instead of wasting valuable time screwing around with something that probably won’t make it through the season anyway.   

There are many other blinds on the market today but these are some of the most popular.  As you can see, each blind has its Pros and Cons.  The perfect blind is in the eyes of the goose hunter.  Depending on your situation there is a blind out there for you, just do a little homework and make sure to actually sit in the blind or ideally hunt out of a buddies before you buy it.



How To Set Up Your Blinds   

The next question is “How do I camo up my blind and where do I place it in the spread?”
This answer can be tricky and will change throughout the season.  

The first thing you want to do is take your new blind out of the box, set it up and cover it in mud!  This will get the shine off of the new material.  Then you need to use the existing cover in the area you are hunting to camo your blind with. Even if it is a plowed field, try and find some of the leftover crop type to place in your cover straps.  You do not need to fill every strap to the max either.  Try and spread out the cover leaving space in between each clump to make your blind look more natural.  This should be done prior to the hunt Every Time!  Do not skimp on camouflaging your blind or you will pay for it with your hunting success.


Next is the second part of our answer- Where to place your blinds in the spread?  
There are several ways to set up your blinds in the field.  If your hunting partners are inexperienced it is best to put the “Captain” in the middle and place the other hunters within 5 yards on either side of him in the middle of the spread, ”The Landing Zone”.  Your Captain should be the guy who is the most experienced and will be calling the shots.  I also like to place several decoys around the blinds to break up the silhouette.  It is not a good practice to place the hunters in different vertical positions in the spread as this could be a potentially dangerous situation for the guys in the front.  With more experienced hunters in the field, especially later in the season, I like to spread the blinds out towards the edges of the spread in case the birds are sliding one way or the other. This way at least one guy can get his birds and then trade off with the other hunters.  It is still beneficial here to have the best caller in the heart of the spread as the birds will key in on that area.  And do not be afraid to move your blinds if the wind changes or the birds are working one side of the spread more than the other.  A lot of times a group will wait too long to move, afraid of flaring incoming birds, until it is too late and the flight it is over.  As for sitting downwind of the spread, that is up to your group, but I would rather shoot at decoying birds than pass shooting birds 100 yards away from the spread.  This practice may also alienate members of your group.  I would recommend working harder at putting together a better spread and a little more effort camouflaging up the blinds before I would
opt to move downwind because of flaring birds.


In conclusion, there are many different types of blinds available and different situations call for different tactics.  Don’t be afraid to try new things while you are hunting.  The best advice is to try and fit in with the natural surroundings as best that you can.  In a recent trip to Canada we built a snow fort in the middle of the field for a late season Canada goose hunt and were very successful by utilizing the elements around us.    Just remember this, if there are 4 hunters in a field and only three of them are in blinds while one guy, who was too cheap to buy a blind, is blowing in the wind, well let’s just say your chain of hunters is only as strong as the weakest link!  


Be sure to check back next month for an in depth look at Decoys and Calling: The hard facts!

For additional articles please review:

"Planning For Next Season"  by Mike Moen

"The Perfect Rifle" by Mike Moen

"Magnumitis" by Mike Moen




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