Monday, November 07, 2011

Duck Blinds

A reader recently inquired about the "box-like structures" on pilings that are visible in Pamlico Sound. These are duck blinds...hiding places for hunters. Generally very simple structures, open at the top, and about four or five feet square, they are framed with two by fours and covered with plywood. Raised above the water on pilings, they have a "door" cut out of the plywood which is hinged on one side. A turn button keeps the door closed when not in use. There is usually a wooden bench inside, though upturned five-gallon buckets might suffice. Slits or holes are arranged in the sides to provide a view of the surrounding water & sky, and to allow enough room for the muzzle of the shotgun to project outside the blind.

Decoys are arranged in the water near the blind to entice ducks and geese. In use the blind is often covered with reeds and other natural materials for camouflage. 

Our OcraFolk School Sampler Class kayaked out to David Tolson's duck blind last month. I didn't take my camera with me, but I did find a photo on the web of an Ocracoke duck blind:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article written by my Uncle Marvin in 1954. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:37 AM

    I guess the duck blinds are akin to the deer stands built either in trees or self-standing on the mainland. Wonder how many cans of Vienna sausages and sardines have been eaten as the hunters await for the ducks (or deer, whichever) to appear?

    Just a little "food for thought". :)

  2. Jeremy11:11 AM

    Now I know! Thanks so much for answering my question, Philip!

  3. Anonymous1:17 PM

    Wow that mini building reminds me of Stiltsville a community of sorts somewhere in Biscayne Bay off the coast of South Forida oh go ahead and google the word Stiltsvile

  4. Anonymous4:07 PM

    I've known what they were. My question is, how do they retrieve the ducks? Do they use dogs or boat?

    1. Anonymous10:38 PM

      Walk. The water is a couple feet deep

  5. Sometimes hunters use dogs...sometimes they just walk out to pick up the ducks. The water is shallow around the blinds.

  6. Kevin6:57 PM

    I tell you what, some enterprising person needs to start manufacturing biodegradable wadding for shotgun shells. I picked up and threw away a pile of those things when I finally made it out to Springer's Point, and that was just what was lying around on top of the clumps of marsh grass.

  7. Anonymous8:47 PM

    Philip, any insight into the current state of hunting on Ocracoke? I know there's a tradition, but from my admittedly limited experience, visiting only during summer months, or on multiple occasions the week of Thanksgiving (but unfortunately not this year), I've neither heard, nor seen anyone sporting, firearms.

    I may be a bit rusty on my facts, but here in PA, safety zones prohibit hunting within 150 yards of buildings, and while some municipalities limit the types of firearms alloweable within more populated areas (shotguns with rifled slugs--aka "punkin balls"--rather than high-velocity rifles for deer season), state law otherwise generally permits hunting, by permission on private property and on designated public game lands maintained by the commonwealth.

    Are there restrictions in the vicinity of the Ocracoke residential area?

    And what types of game are common there? I seem to recall sighting the rare deer, but I can't imagine there's a significant population to support hunting.

    And I'd presume the National Park Service wouldn't likely permit hunting, which would rule out all of the island EXCLUDING the village, am I correct?

    Sorry for the 20 questions, but your posts often spark such inquiries. And it's always a pleasure to learn more about Ocracoke.

  8. Anonymous4:32 AM

    8:47 pm awesome questions.

  9. Anonymous7:42 AM

    Kevin, I hear ya! Springer's Point is one of my favorite spots on O.I. I don't like hearing stories about spent shotgun shells in the marsh grass.

  10. Kevin8:10 AM

    I found plastic wadding, not spent shells. Pictures here:

    I don't think anybody was hunting on Springer's Point. Those waddings likely floated in from somewhere else.

  11. Come out to the island around Christmas... You'll here the pop of shotguns every morning!

  12. From the National Park Service web site re. Waterfowl hunting in the Cape Hatteras Nationa Seashore (

    "Ocracoke Island

    Hunting is permitted on the Pamlico Sound side of NC Highway 12, within 250 feet of the shoreline excluding Ocracoke Village, Hammock Hills Nature Trail, and the posted area near Ocracoke Pony Pasture."

    There is more information on the web site noted above.

    No hunting is permitted in the village, or on NPS land.

    We did have a few deer swim over to the island a few years ago, but I haven't heard any reports of them for several years. Oh yes, a bear swims over here every once in a while...and we have squirrels, but no hunting of game, except waterfowl.

  13. Anonymous7:52 AM

    I can't imagine deer or bear swimming that far (even from the Hatteras side) to Ocracoke! Wow! That is incredible determination.

    We all probably remember the song, "The bear went over the mountain...." well, I guess we can add another verse: "The bear swam over to Ocracoke; The bear swam over to Ocracoke; The bear swam over to Ocracoke to see what he could see!"

    Love it!

  14. Dear Philip--I'm happy to see my photo of the duck blind. Every year we kayak to those blinds. I'm married to a duck hunter and my son hunts also, so the blinds are like a magnet to them. Thanks again. Here's the link to my blog if you're interested:

    Happy Hunting and Paddling,

  15. Melissa, I am happy I found your photo. It was easier than taking a kayak back out in the sound with my own camera. If I had known how to contact you I would have asked permission to post the photo instead of a link. But I'm glad you approve!

  16. congrats Melissa you married a duck hunter and you have a son follow the step of your husband. You really enjoyed checking out a duck blind while kayaking in Ocracoke Sound. You had a happy family. Thanks for sharing your lens and your photo. I really enjoyed it.