How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

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How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby whistlingwings » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:13 am

Howdy folks -- I could use some help designing a blind for a whitewater raft. I’ve been duck hunting for two decades, built plenty of boat blinds, but not sure what to do with this one. Any ideas are much appreciated. The main issue is that to paddle and get down the river, you have to sit on the edge of the raft, which makes fixing pvc or alum tubing for a typical pop up a bit of an issue. I used to be a whitewater guide so down at the bottom of this post I’ll answer some common questions/misconceptions about rafts that I found here in the forums in old posts.

ABOUT THE RAFT
I’m looking at a two man like this one, about 11ft long and 5 ft wide. Keep in mind…this is a $2000+ whitewater raft, not a cheap plastic Walmart version. Just a heads up, if you try taking a cheap plastic version down a river you’re going to get yourself killed.
Image

Generally how you sit in it to padde:
Image


Questions/Misconceptions About Hunting From A Raft

-- Disclaimer: I’ve never actually duck hunted from a raft. I’ve duck hunted for a long time and guided class V whitewater, and hunted from my whitewater kayak, so I might know a bit about how it could work (or could go very badly, including drowning yourself).

-- Rivers can be very dangerous, especially in cold weather. If you don’t know what you’re doing, but want to start trying to hunt a local river, I’d first highly recommend hooking up with a local whitewater paddling group/club and learning how to run whitewater. After you can guide a raft down class III+ whitewater, hunting a class II river won’t be an issue.

-- When would a whitewater raft be a good choice for duck hunting? Really I can only think of one situation, and that’s small-ish rivers with more than class I whitewater. That’s what I find myself wanting to hunt now. Big rivers like the Arkansas (my old stomping grounds), an 18ft+ jon is a better option in my opinion. Creeks and small rivers that don’t have whitewater, a canoe or small jon is a better option. A raft could be helpful for ponds and lakes in some cases I guess.

-- Whitewater raft vs. cheap Walmart raft. Ok --- these are VERY VERY different things. A two man whitewater raft like the one above, new, is going to cost well over $1000. Larger 14ft+ rafts are several thousand dollars. AIRE and SOTAR are two big manufacturers of real whitewater rafts. Do not ever, ever take a cheap plastic raft on whitewater, you will be swimming.

-- Whitewater rafts are extremely durable. They’re designed for class V whitewater (the Grand Canyon, Gauley River, etc), razor sharp rocks, brutal hits against rocks. Cold weather will not cause the air in the tubes to cool and deflate (this was the funniest misconception I read in old forum topics). Here in Oregon we run whitewater all year, in dry suits when it’s 0 degrees F with snow everywhere, generally you carry a little hand pump to add a bit of air if the tubes get a little soft. Yes your shotgun will easily blow a hole through them. I personally feel much safer on small-ish rivers with class II or III whitewater in a raft than I ever would in a jon boat, without a doubt, and even safer than in a dory or drift boat. I’m sure drift boaters will disagree ;)

-- Stability depends on the particular raft. My two man raft isn’t extremely stable if two adult men jump up and start blasting away. It isn’t going to flip by any means, but it rocks a bit. We’ll be shooting from a sitting position. Large 14ft+ rafts have similar, usually better, stability than jon boats.

-- Overall, hunting from a raft on small-ish rivers could be very very productive. Mainly because you can get to places other people can’t. I know this having never hunted from a raft because I’ve hunted from my whitewater kayak and done really well.
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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby Boatman » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:26 am

Pick up one of these and put a blind on it. You can go up or down the rapids then.And you won't get wet. :biggrin:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR4WJ_JYm5w
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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby whistlingwings » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:00 pm

Boatman wrote:Pick up one of these and put a blind on it. You can go up or down the rapids then.And you won't get wet. :biggrin:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR4WJ_JYm5w



That's what I'm talking about :hammer:

For the raft, I'm thinking making this thing layout style -- stretch some camo cordura or burlap across the whole thing (they're bright colors so don't want to use netting/see through). Cut flaps/holes where we're going to sit for paddling. Then grass it up a bit?
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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby handyandy » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:21 am

that would probably be the best way to go about it I would think.
Red neck engineering- If ya can't fix it with duck tape, bailing wire, zip ties, and JB weld well than it can't be fixed.

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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby whistlingwings » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:07 am

Any thoughts on what the best material would be? It's going to be stretched tight across the whole raft, front to back. I'm in Oregon, rains a lot, so semi-waterproof would be nice. But durability is more important, I hate building something then having to redo it every year
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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby handyandy » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:02 pm

old army tent material you can buy the old pup tents for cheap on ebay made from a pretty heavy tough canvas material you could spray paint whatver color you want zip tie on some rafia, pieces of burlap, or natural vegatation whatever matches your surroundings the best.
Red neck engineering- If ya can't fix it with duck tape, bailing wire, zip ties, and JB weld well than it can't be fixed.

If it moves and it aint suppose to duck tape it. If doesn't move and its suppose to put WD-40 on it.
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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby greatbasingeese » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:09 am

I own a fleet of whitewater rafts for our wilderness fly out trout & salmon guide business in Alaska. I've hunted from canoes & kayaks for 35 years and like you have wondered how to set up my rafts. I agree that whatever you do it should be tight to the tubes (in part so there can be no danger of entrapment). So what is going to provide points of attachment for the blind material? It seems like the D rings that raft lifelines run through are an inadequate solution. So it's hard to see how to stretch the material tight?

Perhaps If I were going to "Do it right" and leave my raft rigged to hunt all waterfowl season, I think I'd buy bulk camo fabric and cut, piece, & sew the fabric into a long strip to conform to the tubes. I'd use the tubes themselves as the pattern. Then "lace it" around the tubes & through the self bailing floor drain holes. So that might be 1 long strip of material for each long tube. That takes care of the long hull profile. Then the floor would be a seperate lace in project.

What do you think?
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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby whistlingwings » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:11 am

Hey thanks for the detailed response, and welcome to the duckhuntingchat :beer:

I've done some more thinking; one issue is that I can't leave it rigged for waterfowl all season, the lady likes to get on the river in the fall, and all I have is this boat (she isn't a kayak/drysuit fan). What about this: A single sheet of material, maybe the pup tent material. Basically just a tarp over the whole boat. Then use the d rings to stretch it tight (so I'm thinking on the underside of the tarp, sew attachment points, and run cam straps through the boat d rings and these attachment points). Just like strapping down an oar rig.

Can cut holes in the tarp for where we'll be sitting, make the cuts really "flaps" of material that can be velcro-ed closed. Fastgrass or whatever on top of the tarp just like a normal blind.
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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby T Man » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:19 am

How do you plan on rwcovering downed birds?

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Re: How would you build? Blind for a whitewater raft

Postby whistlingwings » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:29 am

On the river? I'm either hunting a slough/slackwater, or floating/paddling downstream. Recovery is easy in both cases: paddle over to the bird. Ducks don't seem to like to hang out in one spot in moving water for too long :wink:
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