Where to Set up a Duck Blind: 5 Essentials for Picking the Perfect Location
Ducks can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding game species to hunt, however, setting yourself up for success can be more challenging than simply throwing out a bag of decoys and calling them in. When I first started hunting ducks we focused on decoy spread, calling strategies, and even planning the exact moment when we would pop out of the blind to shoot. All with low success rates, ducks would fly by without giving us a look or, even worse, not fly by at all. After tweaking everything that could be tweaked my hunting partner and I decided to focus on the one thing that we hadn’t changed yet, the location of our blind.
Choosing an ideal blind location is challenging. There are many factors to consider when determining the exact location to put your blind and it can be easy to get lost and overanalyze your options. To keep it simple there are 5 essentials to keep in mind whenever you are tasked with finding and building a blind in a new hunting location.
1. Scout from above
It may seem obvious but birds come at your blind with a birds-eye view. So while your blind may look camouflaged from the ground it can be beneficial to look at things from above. Luckily you do not need a drone to plan out where to place your blind (although if you do have one that could take your blind building game to another level). Simply input your location into Google Maps and pull up the satellite view.
Having the map of your hunting location pulled up, whether it be on a river, lake, pond, or reservoir gives you a distinct advantage in planning out where to place your blind. This view allows you to look at the big picture in terms of access, and tree coverage, and it will enable you to explore unknown areas virtually without having to trek miles and miles looking for a spot. There are even apps available, such as OnX maps that have private property lines marked so that you can verify that you are setting up your blind in a legal hunting area.
Of course, there is no substitute for boots on the ground but when scouting from above I look for a few key elements, especially if I am hunting in a new spot, including:
- Inlets – these small fingers of water can provide cover and a place for foliage and other food to grow that ducks like to eat.
- Covered coves – mallards and wood ducks love to hang out in these small sheltered areas on larger lakes.
- Flyways – sometimes the landscape provides a natural funnel where ducks and other birds pass through to get into their final location.
Of all of the factors on this list, getting a birds-eye view is at the top, there is just no substitute for choosing a great blind location. If you are looking to set up a more permanent hunting blind it is a good idea to mark a few locations on your aerial map and hunt them throughout a season to see which spot is the best before committing.
2. Think about the sun and wind
The sun and wind can be both friends and enemies depending on how you set up and orient your duck blind. Generally speaking, ducks like to land into the wind because it makes their landing softer and uses less energy. This means that you want the wind at your back whenever possible. To do this it can be helpful to look at a weather app to look at the prevailing wind history or just simply take note of general wind direction as you scout and hunt early in the season. Once you have an idea of where the wind typically comes from, orient your blind so that the wind will be at your back, this allows ducks to slowly fly into your blind and can make the final shot easier.
Similar to wind, the sun also needs to be behind you whenever possible. Keep in mind that most duck hunting happens at the crack of dawn, meaning you should orient your blind towards the west, at least a little bit. This will also put the sun in the duck’s eyes as they are flying in which can help keep you hidden until the last moment, giving you every opportunity to take your best shot.
3. Use the landscape
Hills, sloughs, and rock formations are all in play when building a blind. Before building your blind or choosing a location, think about what the landscape looks like and try to match your cover with materials from the area that you are in whenever possible. This may include “mudding in” your blind, or rubbing dirt and mud on the outside to make it look more natural and to improve camouflage.
You also should think about the shape of the landscape and set up your blind along natural duck funnels where ducks and birds may become more concentrated due to tall trees or rock formations. Speaking of trees, having a tree backing can be a great way to camouflage your blind. When ducks fly by they are unlikely to see a blind backed up to trees, especially when compared to a blind out in the open, essentially it hides any other flaws in your blind design or camouflage.
Of course, when using the landscape it is also important to leave as much of the natural areas intact. This means leaving trees standing and minimizing your impact as you come and go from the blind with vehicles. Minimizing your impact will maximize your hunting experience as ducks are drawn to untouched-looking natural areas.
4. Consider the view
While being hidden and camouflaged is important, it is equally important to have a wide-ranging, unobstructed, view when you are ready to pull the trigger. Popping out of the blind only to have a tree, low-hanging branches, or tall cat-tails in your way is frustrating and lowers your chances of bagging more birds.
When thinking about an ideal view, you want to set up so that you can see birds coming in from many angles, while still staying hidden until the last minute. Often this means being set up on the edge of a pond or lake, overlooking the water. Regardless of where you end up setting up, you want to make sure that your backdrop is safe. This means no homes or roads nearby and also being considerate and keeping distance between your blind and any other blinds in the area.
5. Observe fowl flight patterns
On any given lake, birds may fly in a specific pattern. Sometimes they will fly according to the wind, others according to the shape of the lake. In streams or warm-water sloughs, birds may simply follow the path of the water. The only way to understand how the birds are flying is to get out and observe them at the time you intend to hunt. Watching the birds and observing their flight direction allows you to set up your blind so that the birds will see your decoys and fly in.
All of the planning in the world can change on the day of the hunt, sometimes localized changes in weather, wind or other random variances cause ducks to fly in different ways. It is essential not to get too hung up on how the ducks are flying and to adjust your decoy spread accordingly. The best hunters can combine information from their pre-hunt scouting trips and also adapt to their surroundings in the moment.
Choosing a new blind location is an exciting and challenging part of duck hunting. It is a decision that can leave you with a freezer full of ducks, or leave you skunked without a duck in sight. Luckily for hunters, the 5 simple strategies outlined here will give them a premium blind setup that should provide a good and successful hunting experience. To recap, the strategies include:
- Scout from above
- Think about the sun and wind
- Use the landscape
- Think about your view
- Observe flight patterns
As every seasoned hunter knows, there are no guarantees in hunting, and in the end, it all comes down to execution. However, by putting your blind in a position for success you can increase your odds and bring home more birds.Shop for Hunting Blinds Online – CLICK HERE