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Light & Fast Fiberglass Duck Boat Blind

Nov 21, 2023Nov 21, 2023

The memorable, inaugural hunt that took place in October 2019 was the Timmermans’ reward for undertaking the building of a hard-sided boat blind with a lightweight, fiberglass skin. (Photo courtesy of Brent Timmerman)

Jockeying for position on opening day of the second split of waterfowl season, the duck boat lineup idled through the no-wake zone at Iowa's Lake Odessa. One by one, they reached full-throttle water and blasted off, with a huge boat blind running in third place. The first and second "best" hunting spots were taken by two faster boats capable of achieving speeds of 70 mph. Brent Timmerman's boat with its fiberglass blind could only hit 50 mph, even by white-knuckling the throttle.

"Lake Odessa is the only lake in Louisa County that allows hunters to stake out their boats along the bank, but no one is allowed to leave the bank to hunt until midnight," Timmerman said. "We have people who watch our boat and everyone who hunts there knows everyone else, so we talk about where we want to hunt before we launch. The fastest boats get the best hunting spots."

Arriving at a gap broken in the buckbrush by many years of hunters using that particular spot, the party, which included Toby, Timmerman's male black Lab, his 18-year-old son Drake, and Drake's friend 15-year-old Tate Krondfelt, set 150 decoys. Then they unrolled their sleeping bags. Amped by thoughts of what daybreak might wing their way, they napped fitfully and were ready to go long before the wakeup alarm went off one hour before legal shooting time.

"The first ducks we saw after legal light was a flock of Hollywoods," Timmerman said. "They spun around right in front of us, passed by the decoys and came back. We killed eight out of the flock of 15 and were hooting and hollering and high-fiving. Later on, two drake mallards decoyed and we got them both. We called three guys in another boat to come and set up beside us. Between the two boats, we shot 16 teal, 8 shovelers, two mallards and two specklebellies."

Brent Timmerman is 40 years old and was introduced to waterfowl hunting 35 years ago by his father, Lyle Timmerman. A maintenance technician at a drywall company in Burlington, Iowa, he shoots a Remington 870 stoked with Federal Speed-Shok steel 2s and sets Avian X and GHG mallard, pintail, gadwall, wigeon and shoveler decoys. (For those who have not heard the term "Hollywood" used for the shoveler or spoonbill, it refers to the drake being a fake or imitation mallard because everything in Hollywood is a fake or imitation).

The boat is a 1996 Alweld 1860 powered by a 1981 Johnson 110 two-stroke outboard. The trailer is a 1996 Mirrocraft.

"When I bought the boat in 2016, it had a homemade blind," he said. "It had been used and abused and was falling apart. Since I also drove racecars, I asked my son if he wanted to be a duck hunter or racecar driver. When he answered ‘duck hunter’ I gave him that boat and got a bigger boat for myself."

Total cost: $1,500

The blind frame is made of steel conduit. The base is ¾" conduit and is secured to the tops of the gunwales with 10 conduit clamps welded to the frame. Self-tapping screws connect the bottoms of the clamps to the boat. After hunting season, the screws are removed and the blind is light enough so that four hunters can lift it off the boat. The rest of the frame is ½" conduit welded together with a MIG welder, with each piece custom-fitted to create an extremely sturdy support system. The finished blind is so strong that hunters can stand on it. It has a bow entry hatch that rotates open on pivots points consisting of larger diameter base conduit sections rotating around smaller diameter frame sections. The blind also has an overhanging stern section with a firewall between the engine and the interior. A door in the firewall pivots open like the bow hatch to allow access to the engine.

The skin's foundation layer is black cotton bedsheet fabric, hot-glued to the frame. The outer layer is black fiberglass fabric matting saturated with resin. Plastic coated garden fencing attached over the fiberglass skin holds camouflaging tumbleweeds, secured to the fencing with zip ties. Hunters also add buckbrush to help it blend into the hunting site vegetation.

The custom-made helm and throttle controls are located at the starboard side near the bow. Hunters sit on either a wooden bench with a conduit frame or on a top-hinged wooden storage seat with 3 inches of foam padding and a vinyl cover. They shoot through four 28"x28" ports on the starboard side. The port covers are 1"x1" lumber framing covered with plastic sheeting. The framing fits snugly enough inside the ports that they remain in place even while the boat is road towed. During a hunt, they are removed and stowed. Compartments on both sides of the bow deck entryway holds 120 decoys. Rigged with the Tanglefree system, they are simply tossed into the compartments, not bagged.

A full-length shelf holds a built-in propane RV stove/oven and a 30,000 BTU glass-fronted heater. The blind interior is coated with spray foam insulation applied by an insulation company. On the coldest day, the interior temperature can be maintained at 75 degrees.

"It took us 20 days of solid working to build the blind," Timmerman said. "Since it's Drake's boat, he got to name it." To anyone who sees that hulking form racing for a hunting spot at midnight on the dot, the name Goliath must seem the perfect fit.