Outdoors With Kevin Fox
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Life in a Layout Blind
I spent a little over four hours in a layout blind last week and although I had a great time visiting with the guys I was hunting with, sometimes living in a layout blind can be tough. We have a running joke when we use our layout blinds and someone will always say, “As soon as I get home I’m selling all the furniture in our house and just toss a couple layout blinds in the living room!” It never happens and my recliner still sits where it always has, and more than likely always will. Of course, the real problem with my layout blinds (and I have two of them) is not the layout blinds, but it’s me. Despite losing over forty pounds I still feel as though I am stuck in my blind like the meat in the bottom of a taco. If I were younger it would be no big deal, but my left hand still isn’t working very well from last November when I slept funny and pinched a nerve. So it feels as though I’m beginning to wear out! They tell me that in time it will get better, but that was the same time when the election was going on so I heard a lot of promises… I’m not sure about who told me the one about my arm, but so far it hasn’t improved. With a possible bear hunt looming, followed by a possible trip to Africa, I’m getting anxious for feeling to return in the hand.
I don’t think that I am alone in my love-hate relationship with my layout blind, and I would probably never use one again except the things actually work. For those who have never experienced the joys of a layout blind, imagine yourself lying flat on the ground in a sleeping bag with a slant board that hits you just above your waist which tilts your shoulders and head up so you can see approaching waterfowl. There will be netting that goes over your face to hide you even more. There will also be a lightweight aluminum frame in most layout blinds, so the blind is not laying on you – giving you space to put gear in the blind, as well as use your calls without being seen. By far the best blinds are those with a lower profile as they are easier to hide, and don’t cast a shadow, but typically the lower you go the less comfortable the blind is. I have a Cabela’s layout blind that you actually sit up in that is really not too bad although you are still sitting on the ground. It casts a pretty large shadow, though, so I prefer using it on cloudy days. On the other hand, how smart is a Canada goose? I mean they haven’t started using them yet for airport security like drug dogs! Layout blinds are made with tough material to protect you somewhat from the elements and the floor will be even tougher to keep you dry when laying on the damp ground or even snow. Most layout blinds will also collapse or fold up making transporting them to the field easier whether you pack in or drive in.
The Canada goose season is winding down, but it will be followed by the spring light goose season, and talk has it we may set up in our layout blinds just to help hide our movement and keep gear from getting scattered around us, such as the electronic callers so I may be in my camouflage torture trap even more.
For those who may be thinking about getting a layout blind, think about getting one that matches the cover that you hunt the most in, such as a cornfield, or cattails or reeds along a shoreline. But all the layout blinds I have seen or used have loops on them where you can stick vegetation in them to help even more with concealment. Layout blinds also come in different styles. I already mentioned those blinds with a frame and told you how they are more comfortable as well as providing some space for gear. They are sort of like a low profile tent as they also keep you somewhat drier. Those with frames also have doors which will spring open when you are ready to rise and shoot.
It sounds simple, and once again it was simple when I was younger. Now it feels as though I have fallen in the blind and am trying to climb back up off the ground but cannot get back up, which is pretty much what happens. My shots are no longer at approaching waterfowl: by the time I get in shooting position most of my shots are at departing ducks and geese.
There are also layout blinds without frames. These blinds may or may not have doors, but since they lack frames most will not since lacking the frames the doors will be lying on you. Most of these binds have a top that goes over your head and shoulders so you can view approaching game and still move without being seen when calling. The top may spring up or simply be thrown back when you’re ready to shoot. These blinds really are like a sleeping bag, but work very well as you have a very low profile. They typically weigh a lot less than blinds with frames making them a lot easier to pack in if that’s how you must get to your field. However, I think that I may have gotten too old for the layout without the frame and backrest. The last time I crawled in one it appeared some giant camouflage snake had swallowed a large fat monkey and was trying to digest it.
The last time I checked Rogers Sporting Goods (a mail order house for hunting gear on the west side of our state) they had at least 22 different styles of layout blinds. I’m sure they and other sporting goods stores will have something to fit your needs. I would add that if possible purchase a snow cover to go over your blind just in case there is snow in the field you hunt, as waterfowl still feed even with snow on the ground.
A final note to remember is how you plan to hunt. If you are going to hunt in a field most of the day then I would certainly consider comfort, if that is truly possible in a layout blind. Are you going to be packing in or can you drive out in the field and dump your gear out and then go park your vehicle? Lay on the floor and see how quickly you can sit up and shoulder your shotgun. All these things will tell you what type of layout blind you are looking for.