Monday, October 21

Building an Eastern Shore Blind

A Fine Day's Work

  That is what a work day is like, I told the Wildfowl Ninja, as we drove down the lane toward home.  We started at 8:30, I recapped, broke for lunch, wrapped up close to 6 and had a lot to show for our hard work. He was the youngest on the crew by three decades, but handled himself like an eager apprentice: ready for grunt work, did not complain or horse around.

  With a load from the lumber yard delivered, and the plans taped to the back wall of the garage, I let the men with true construction knowledge lead the way.  I do not consider being able to plane a door or fix a broken toilet as adequate to lead the charge on such an important project. Among the seven of us, we had decades of blind building experience, deep construction skill sets, strong backs and good attitudes.

   The task was straight forward: build a blind 12' by 5' with 5' foot back wall and 4’ front and side walls. 32” wide door in the back wall offset to the left, with a 16" wide seat across and a removable seat at the door. The roof would be pitched at a ~30 degree angle, allowing the shooter to stand up and out with clear shooting lanes. Set on cinder blocks and facing southeast, the blind was in a mowed corn field.

  Under an overcast sky we got to work on the floor of ¾” pressure treated plywood with 2x8 joists. The Wildfowl Ninja was eager to help with measuring the pieces needed, but particularly excited to get trained on the nail gun and used it in finishing the floor. Radiant heating tiles in Mossy Oak ShadowGrass Blades will be installed after a base coat of Old Goose paint.

The Wildfowl Ninja Mans the Gun

  With the depth of construction knowledge there were not many re-do’s, and “Measure Twice, Cut Once” was the unspoken rule. As Always. With one team measuring and cutting and another constructing and nailing, we made short work of the rest of this modular blind. The floor became the template on which to build the front and back walls, with shell shelves on the front wall and a door in the back wall. The side walls were constructed to fit inside the front and back walls, with plywood overlapping to screw into the ends of the front and back walls. Well thought out and built to withstand years of searing summers and cold wet winters, this was shaping up to be a beast.

Modular Blind Building

  The lunch bell rang and we were treated to a fantastic lunch of salad, fresh warm homemade bread and stew. Filled with pearl onions, peas, carrot, potatoes and tender chunks of goose breast, this was possibly one of the best stews I have had. The combination of the vegetables bathed in a thick broth and soft chunks of goose combined for a perfect blend and balance for the epitome of what a stew should provide: a foundation of hearty protein and vegetable vitamins. I almost went for a third helping, but there was work to be done.

  With all the pieces sideways on a utility trailer, the blind was hauled out to the nearby field. The back wall was carried off the trailer and placed behind the blind foundation, as we readied the floor for positioning.

The Floor is Ready for Placement

  The blind site was relatively level and blocks had been put in place for a foundation, so there would be a little bit of block overhang. The blind would be set in up against a few trees and some scrub, so in a few years, the growth would wrap around and contribute to the stealth of the blind.

Grading the Foundation

Two Up; Two to Go!

  With the sides up, the next conundrum was to ensure that the pitch of the roof was enough to provide cover from rain, concealment from birds, but not hinder the hunter’s ability to rise, move forward, mount and shoot. After some discussion, the pitch was determined and the 12’ roof by built with a 2x8 running lengthwise providing lateral support and a middle angled piece to keep the roof from bowing over time. Additionally, solar panels will provide enough energy for the early warning MigRadar (Migratory Radar System)

Door Detail with the Roof  in the Works

Roof Up and Benches Next

  Roof set, the bench was then made on a 2x4 frame, 16’ off the floor and 16” wide. It was determined that there would be a removable seat where the door was located. The rich Corinthian leather would be added once it was Scotch Guarded, (or Schnapps Guarded, pick your poison)

Bench in Place, with Shell Shelfs at the Ready

Bench with Door Closed 

  All put together and with extra screws for good measure, this juggernaut will provide cover from the elements for seasons to come. If it would only help my crossing shot. That comes with experience. This building project provided the Wildfowl Ninja with the experience of working with capable men to build a super solid hunting platform from a pile of lumber and hand drawn plans. He thought that was cool. The same cool that comes from being outdoors in a light rain on a cool day working hard.

Just add Paint and Brush...and Geese!

Monday, October 14

The WildFowl Ninja’s Training Continues

   When he told me what he wanted to do for his 12th birthday, I reflexively rubbed my upper arm, where three years prior I took a point blank hit from a fully charged paintball gun. “I’m in!”, I quickly replied. I then began to think of ways that I could run around like a madman and still retain my dignity among seven 11 year olds, as well as waking up the next day not feeling like I was hit by an All Pro Linebacker (pick your favorite, I will take London Fletcher). 
  After suiting up and picking teams, I realized that dignity among my cadre was a secondary concern, as they had nicknamed me the Juggernaut. I am unsure if it was because I was large and slow, or a relentless force.
  Yesterday was a fun and muddy afternoon and there was no culling out of the herd. All of these young men played hard, worked together and celebrated their victories, while congratulating the opposition on a game well played. Even after some particularly nasty close quarter hits, all of them “cowboyed up” and continued with renewed ferocity.
   Reflecting on the day, dignity was never an issue. Until of course, I split my pants trying to avoid a barrage of high velocity paintball rounds. Wearing shorts on the outside of my pants put me in the Hobo category, but it worked.
   Oh..and the last game had the Wildfowl Ninja holding off three buddies who tried to flank him but to no avail. This scenario may help him keep his eye on the right side of the blind.

Wednesday, October 2

Gear Review: Kershaw Cryo Folding Knife

Kershaw Cryo


The Kershaw Cryo is a hefty all metal folder, with a beefy modified drop point 2 3/4" blade and a thick tang. In looking for a spring assisted blade, I wanted a sub $50 folder with a blade less that 4", that could be used for every day carry and I would not go into deep depression if i lost it. While it took me some getting used to having an automatic knife in my pocket (not wanting a surprise vasectomy), I liked the solid lock up of the Cryo and the heft at a little over 4 ounces, and 3 3/4" closed. 

Cryo Closed: note the 4 way carry option

  Based on a Rick Hinderer design, who is known for advanced tactical blade designs, the blade steel is 8Cr13MoV Chinese made steel and it has held its edge to still shaving sharp. This is impressive, considering it generated a softball size amount of pine shavings for outdoor fires in the Black Hills. Yes, pine is a soft wood, but I did not go easy on the blade and it had the feel of a fixed blade in its solidity and lack of flex at the pivot point. 

Note the thick liner lock and deep jimping

  The Cryo has a liner lock that covers over half of the tang when in the open position. It was stiff at purchase, but has worn in nicely: it still opens quick and engages fully with no lateral blade travel. The jimping on the back of the blade allows some choking up on the blade and the handle is comfortable and feels natural in the palm. The pocket clip is a four way option and is very tight in the pocket. I levered mine slightly so that it would be tight but allow easy removal and replacement on my left pocket. 

A Stout and Strong Folder with Clean Lines

 This knife is a well made folder, with a strong blade, that holds an edge. Although I prefer domestic steel, the imported steel allows an acceptable price point. With a strong list of pros and few cons, the Kershaw Cryo earns  a ESO Must Buy award. .