December 06, 2016
Brad Biere has been hunting the Mississippi Flyway for about 12 years. The kayak hunter said he loved the idea of having a layout boat, but wanted to buy some type of watercraft that he could use for multiple purposes. He also uses his kayak for fishing. It's a problem many other hunters with kayaks face and his solution was so ingenious that it earned an honorable mention.
"I bought a 12-foot fishing kayak and knew it would not only make an awesome recreational toy, but would be perfect as a layout boat," he said. "All I needed was a cover."
Once he had the kayak, Biere set forth on a quest to find a camouflage kayak cover. After searching intensively, he still could not find a single cover that was available over the counter or any plans for making a do-it-yourself cover. Eventually, he got the ideas for making his own cover from pictures he saw of layout blinds.
"My kayak cover is easy to make even for someone who does not have a lot of sewing experience," he said. "My only sewing experience came from a high school home economics course. The cover cost less than $100 to make and the fabric turned out to be just as high in quality as that of a store-bought layout blind."
The first time he used the kayak cover turned out better than he ever could have expected. "The forecast was 50 degrees, partly sunny and no wind," he said. "The area was holding 22,000 birds, but had not received any new birds in a month due to unseasonably warm weather, so it was not a promising day to say the least. I hunted public land that day and the vegetation was extremely sparse, which is a perfect situation for my kayak and its cover. The conservation area was hit by a late flood and the vegetation that hunters normally use as cover was lacking. My kayak cover made the difference in my success. I was able to take four mallards and had plenty more of them within shooting range. That day, 65 hunters killed only 15 ducks. I was so impressed with the design that I decided to share it with all readers of Wildfowl magazine. This plan will work for any kayak, no matter its size and shape or whether it is a kayak you sit in or sit upon."
To begin building the blind, Biere laid the fabric on the kayak and, using the boat as a template, cut out a rough outline. Then, he folded the fabric in half, lengthwise. Next, he smoothed out the shape with scissors and cut a slant in the fabric to accommodate the bow and stern.
"I needed lots of room to sew the 12-foot-long cover," he said. "I sewed the slants at the bow and stern together. After that, I sewed the shock cord inside a 1-inch hem along the entire perimeter of the fabric using a zigzag stitch. I left a 5-inch opening in the hem at the center of the kayak to be able to tie two ends of the shock cord together to adjust the tension."
The next step was placing the fabric on the kayak with the shock cord was sewn into the hem and pulling the shock cord taut. Once the cover was taut, he tied a slip knot into the cord.
"Then I cut out a U-shaped flap for the seat," he said. "I also cut out an I-shape for the flaps to allow opening the cover, just like with a layout blind. I took the cover off and released the slip knot to make the cover easier to sew and used scrap fabric to sew on two, 12-inch wide panels the length of the flaps."
He sewed webbing around the edges of the flaps and seat cover using a zigzag stitch to strengthen the edges of the flaps and seat cover so that the fabric would not fray or unravel. He used a butane lighter to melt the edges of the fabric before attaching the webbing.
In the corners, where two pieces of webbing meet, sew in a small, ½-inch piece of webbing for strength.
"Then, I laid out the webbing and pinned it into place on the fabric in order to attach brush later in the field. I spaced the webbing 8 inches apart and secured it with pins about 6 inches apart then sewed a small, ½-inch zigzag stitch on the webbing every 6 inches next to the pins. Going back over the stitching twice gave it extra strength and the thread will not pull out."
The final step was putting the cover back over the kayak to check its fit.
Once the fit was tight, he tied a permanent knot in the shock cord. Leaving the shock cord taut makes it easier to slip the cover on or off when in the field duck hunting.
"I use a regular kayak paddle to move the boat where I want to hunt, back it into the brush to stabilize it or drag it up onto a bank a little bit," he said. "I hunt in shallow water where there is no risk if it rolls over."