Concealing Field Blinds
Without a doubt, the introduction of layout blinds is one of the biggest assets to field hunters in the past decade. Every year, existing models get makeovers adding better modifications. There are many brands on the market, and many models can be found of each. I’ve hunted out of most of the major brands on the market, and each of them has their pros and cons. But no matter what brand you choose, making the transition from hunting on the ground to hunting out of a blind is an enjoyable one. Not only does it keep you out of the wind, and allow room for storing gear, it also allows the hunter to hide like never before. But in order to hide effectively, you need to be prepared on how to properly conceal your blind. I’ll try to cover all the scenarios that we encounter during the spring, early, regular and late seasons.
First and foremost, when you first purchase a blind you must “mud it up”. The fabric from the manufacturer tends to be shiny, causing your blind to stick out and flare game. You can easily cover this shine by covering it with mud. An easy way to do this is to fill a bucket with some dirt, than fill with enough water to just cover the dirt, and mix it until it’s in a paste form. From there you can use a wide paint brush and apply the muddy paste all over the blind. Give it plenty of hours to dry, than later you can brush it off. It will sort of dull the camo pattern, but that’s a good thing. From there your blind is ready to hunt.
Keep in mind that layout blinds aren’t very effective out of the box. Birds are getting wise to field blinds, and are getting good at spotting them from above. Not only will the camo pattern probably clash with the fields surroundings, you’ll also be dealing with shadows on sunny days. I feel it’s important to try to take advantage of natural cover when available, and know when you’ll be able to effectively hide a blind in the field you’re scouting. Some days we’ll still keep the blinds in the truck when keeping a low profile is a must. The comforts that come with field blinds are great, but this can cause a hunter to rely on them all the time, regardless of how well they will hide. Good luck asking your hunting buddies to leave them in the truck though, I know this well from experience. With some effort you can hide your blinds effectively in almost every situation.
Here’s some scenario’s where you’ll need to hide your blind:
The toughest terrain to hide a layout blind in is mud. No matter what camouflage pattern your blind is, or what vegetation you stuff over your blind, it’s still going to stick out from the surrounding dirt. But with a little work you can hide your blind beautifully. Try the mudding procedure that was mentioned earlier. It’s a bit messy and tedious, but it’s necessary if you want to take advantage of your blinds concealment capabilities. It’s also a good idea to use the mud from the area you’ll be hunting to ensure a good color match. We’ll often carry a broom to help with this situation when we feel it’s inevitable.
Hunting in green colored fields can be very difficult to hide in. In the areas we hunt, it’s uncommon, but we do hunt in green fields at least once a year. I’m assuming that whatever camo pattern you have, it’ll stick out in a green field like a sore thumb. You will need to stuff the camo straps with vegetation, and it will take some time to have it done right. If you try to stuff the blind one handful at a time pulled from the field, you’ll be there all morning. But there are a few tips that can help minimize the time spent concealing the bind. First, we’ll assign a couple of the guys in the crew to collection duty. While we setup the spread, they use rakes to collect vegetation for the blinds. If the vegetation in the field is short in height, you might want to try the surrounding field edges and ditches. That vegetation will be longer and will conceal more of your blind. When you’re finished you will be amazed at how good a blind can look fully stuffed!
We do a lot of hunting in various types of grain stubble. When cut low they can be very tricky to hide in, and like the green fields, the vegetation can be quite minimal. Again, we’ll use the same method at collecting vegetation. A good rake can collect the stubble easier than by hand. Use your best judgment to determine how much stuffing is needed. If time is critical in the morning, you might want to try doing your concealment at night. Also, you’ll probably want to use plenty of decoys to break up the profile of your blind.
If you’re hunting a field that’s been plowed, than you’re looking at a mixture of stubble and dirt colors. Whether it’s corn stubble or grain stubble, you’ll need to put in some work. Some blind camo patterns on the market do a pretty good job alone, but the dark hues may not mesh with the field very well. Try a mixture of the mudding procedure, with some added stubble in the straps and you can hide well. How much or how little will depend on your judgment of the field.
If it’s a plowed or chopped corn field, than you’ll want to try the “plowed stubble” method mentioned previously. If it’s knocked down corn than your dealing with the easiest concealment situation in my experience. You can simply pile up corn stalks around your blind, and stuff the doors. Piling up the corn stalks is much easier than stuffing one strap at a time, and looks even better in my opinion. If you’re moving your blind around a lot, you have to make sure you remember to keep the blind hidden. It can be easy to overlook your blinds concealment, but try not to get too sloppy.
Peas / Beans
I don’t like to hide blinds in bean or pea fields most of the time, although pea fields are a waterfowl magnet so you better learn to adapt. The vegetation isn’t easy to stuff, and the vegetation isn’t usually high off the ground. If you must use your blinds, use plenty of mud and throw the vegetation on it while the mud is still wet so it’ll stick. When it dries it’ll hold up pretty well, but it can fall off if you’re not careful. Now this isn’t every scenario, sometimes you’ll find pea fields that are very easy to hide in. I’ve seen fields where the stubble is matted like a strip of sod or carpet, if this is the case you’re lucky since it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to effectively hide your blind.
Depending on where you live, this may or may not be an issue for you. But for us we may spend a good part of the regular and late season hunting over snow, and during some spring seasons. Hiding a blind in the snow can actually be very easy. You can use old white bed sheets to stuff in the blind, and is an inexpensive method. You’ll want to be careful with some sheets that will have UV issues leaving them looking more purple than white. There are blind colors available on the market that are white and made to hide in snow. Be a little weary though of these covers, a lot of the older models have UV problems as well. If you have one of these older models I suggest buying a can of flat white paint and paint over it to hide the tint.
Another great tip for hiding blinds in the snow is with Christmas tree snow flocking. It’s the spray that’s used to flock Christmas trees, and costs around $1/can. It will take at least a can to cover a blind, depending on the brand, and it’s better to have plenty of extra cans depending on how it looks. Make sure to store the cans in a warm environment, they don’t spray very well when cold. We usually keep all our cans on the dash with the heater on high. The flocking can be wiped off the blind easily, and in some rare instances you may need to re-mud your blind if some of the white hue holds. The best time to stock up on spray is right after Christmas when stores are closing it out. I’ve gotten the spray as cheap as 24 cents a can, and I stock up on a couple of cases each winter for the next seasons.
There’s three final tips I want to share. First, you can look into blind colors that’ll better match your surroundings. You can get a cover for pretty much every camouflage on the market, and they help as a base over the original when taken out of its matched surroundings. But keep in mind that the cover should still be stuffed with some of the surrounding vegetation to help it look more natural. Second, you can also buy fake grass materials to use as stuffing. This is a quick and easy way to use stuffing, but the stuffing won’t always be a very good match for the field’s vegetation. The final tip I want to share is to use decoys around your blinds to help conceal. Silhouettes work great to break them up 2-dimensionally, but you can also use full bodies. Not only do they work great to conceal, but decoys also help break up the shadow of the blind. On sunny days the shadow can be very difficult to deal with, especially on higher profile blinds.
The methods we use to hide our blinds come from countless hours of testing techniques in the field. Although I feel these methods work great, we’re always coming up with more efficient and effective ways. Use these methods as a base, and don’t be afraid to experiment! If you have some methods that I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear about it.