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Travelin' man: birds are where you find them, so get yourself movin'.

CODY EKSTROM WAS tired of sitting in a boat to hunt ducks and geese. So, he built a removable blind that can be set up at any location simply by setting four new stakes in the ground and bolting them in place. The blind's simple design, and that it was made from recycled materials, won it an honorable mention in the 2011 Boats & Blinds contest.

"It is not a good thing when you fall in the water and have to hunt the rest of the day soaking wet," Ekstrom said. "Another thing I do not like about hunting out of a boat is that you have a hard time blending your boat into the weeds."

Ekstrom solved his boat-hunting woes by building a box blind that is dry and comfortable and will conceal a few hunters in flooded timber, tules, cattails, or flooded farm fields. The blind can be set right down on the ground or it can be raised up above the water as high as the hunter desires by using 4x4 rough-sawn timbers as pilings or stakes to hold the blind at the desired elevation. Eight carriage bolts secure a platform to the timbers and the blind is fastened to the platform using just 12 screws.

Removing the eight bolts and the floor screws allows the large blind to be carried to another location intact by placing it on a trailer or skid. Any or all of the four sides also come apart simply by removing a couple of screws to make it easy to transport or store the blind in sections. Ekstrom estimates the weight of the blind to be about 200 pounds, so two hunters are able to lift the blind to place it on a trailer. Then, all that is required is placing four more 4x4 pilings at the new location and securing the blind to them in the same manner.

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SCRAPING TOGETHER

Most of the wood used to build the blind came from Cody's father's business, which generates a large amount of scrap chipboard, pallets and timbers that are used to transport and store materials. But some of the treated wood and all of the hardware came from a local store.

The 5x10 platform is made of pallets, which were taken apart and rebuilt to create a rectangular subfloor frame. The sides of the blind were assembled at Cody's home, so he had a source of electricity and compressed air to power electric and air tools.

The four sides of the blind are made of plywood or chipboard. The floor is made of treated plywood and is covered with old carpet to make footing silent and sure. The front of the blind has a 36-inch vertical face, which then tapers back into the blind about 8 inches to cover a shelf for ammunition, gloves and other gear. The shelf is a full-length piece of 2x8 lumber. The section that slants back into the blind interior is cut into two equal doors hinged to the vertical front wall. When a hunter wants to shoot, he can simply drop down the slanted section in front of him to provide a wide-open shooting port.

The back wall of the blind rises vertically to a height of 5 feet. The roof rises at an angle from the top of the back wall to the center of the blind and peaks at the center of the blind at about 5 1/2 feet above the hunters' heads.

The blind has four chairs with tubular metal frames and foam and fabric backs, seats and armrests. Compared to most blind seating arrangements, they are incredibly comfortable and can be moved or removed as necessary to accommodate hunters, or while relocating the blind. While the blind seats four, that number is a crowd. Cody said three hunters are the ideal capacity.

The blind has a door in the left side, which is attached by two hinges to the front frame of the blind. All wall framing of the blind is made of 2x4 lumber. The door is held shut by a bungee cord. A 2x4 stud brace runs from the front of the blind up at an angle to support the roof peak, so hunters must duck their heads when entering or exiting.

GRASS IT UP

The blind was painted with brown, tan and green paint--acquired from a county recycling center--into a cattail pattern. The blind was further camouflaged with Avery artificial grass mats for durability. The artificial grass makes the blind blend perfectly into the stand of cattails where it is normally situated. The grassmats were attached to the blind with pieces of wire so they could be easily taken off for takedown and transport or be replaced.

The sides of the blind also come apart by removing a couple of screws at each corner to make it even more portable and user friendly. It can be taken down at the end of every hunting season and put back up on the same stakes the next season. Having several sets of stakes already located in prime hunting spots ahead of time helps when it comes to moving spots.

The bolts that hold the floor platform in place are inserted at each corner, with one bolt going through each side and then through the stake. The nuts are on the outside of the blind.

While removing the blind after the hunting season protects it from the weather, Cody said that he left it in place after the last hunting season and it survived a flood. However, he said snow would likely cause the most damage.

"If you do not take the blind down in the off-season, I would recommend you cover the blind's shooting opening with some pieces of plywood to keep the snow from building up," he said. "Then, in the spring, I would inspect the blind for snow and water damage. The best time to make any repairs is during the spring, when it is not hunting season."
MATERIALS LIST:
10 2x4x10 treated lumber (floor base frame).
12 sheets of 4x8 treated plywood (floor, sides, roof).
1 2x8x1 0 lumber (gear shelf).
4 4x4x10 rough-sawn cedar lumber (pilings).
6 hinges
1 large box of screws
8 3/4 x 8 carriage bolts, nuts, lockwashers.


But the best thing to do to prevent problems is to take down the blind and store it out of the weather when it is not in use. The ease of taking down and transporting the blind is its best feature. Store it out of the elements and it should last for many years.

Misc.: Camouflage paint, artificial grassmats, roll of wire for attaching grassmats.

RELATED ARTICLE: YOUNG GUN

Cody Ekstrom of Norwood Young America, Minn., is just 18 years old, but his desire to hunt waterfowl was so powerful that he built a blind that is large enough to hold four hunters. It all came together when his father, Jeff, bought a farm on the shoreline of Assumption Lake, a natural pothole lake, about seven years ago.

Cody hunts mostly on Saturdays and Sundays, when he isn't going to Belle Plaine High School. He said the ducks move to the smaller public lake from the much larger Lake Washington, which gets a lot of hunting pressure on the weekends and is located about five miles away.

The Ekstroms shoot a variety of shotguns and ammunition, including Remington, Browning and Ithaca shotguns in 20-, 12-, and 10-gauge. They also set out a variety of decoys, which were mostly purchased after being previously used.

They set out six-or seven-dozen mallard, wood duck, teal and scaup blocks, using a jon boat propelled by oars. They also use the jon boat to pick up downed ducks and geese. Most of the waterfowl they shoot are mallards, wood ducks, teal, ringnecks and Canada geese.

One of the best things about the blind is its convenience to their home, which is located very close to the blind. A big picture window overlooks the lake and Cody said he can see ducks and geese from the window, which obviously makes it easy to scout.

While he can walk to his house to get warmed up on icy days, he said he places a portable propane heater in the blind so he can enjoy sitting inside it, waiting for the ducks to fly.

"The chairs in the blind are so comfortable, Dad and I sometimes have trouble dozing off while we're hunting," he said.

Since his blind is moveable, Cody said he could also use it to hunt in his father's soybean fields and cornfields when the birds are feeding there. Although it only takes two people to move his shoreline blind, he said he is going to build a similar blind so he can leave his first blind in place all season long, rather than having to move it to the places on the farm where the birds are feeding.
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Title Annotation:BOATS & BLINDS
Author:Marsh, Mike
Publication:Wildfowl
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2012
Words:1492
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