Type: Pit, 3-person vault with dog box.
Pros: Consistently one of the top 2-3 blinds on the refuge. It’s in a great location, close to parking and surrounded by water. Good early and late season.
Cons: Pit blind so you’ll be sitting in the weather; bring some camouflage material.
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Blind 17 at Ridgefield is a 3-man pit with a dog box and sits in the south end of the refuge. It faces north in a flooded marsh and is nearly surrounded by water.
The blind is among the most popular of the blinds and is consistently among the top blinds for number of birds taken. The blind can average 3 birds per hunter, compared to the 1.5 birds per hunter average posted by the bottom third of Ridgefield blinds. That extra 1.5 birds accounts for a lot of extra action throughout the day.
Because it’s a pit you’ll want to pack in some grass, material or other camouflage to help hide your group. The good news is the blind is close to the parking lot so you can take a couple of trips if you need to pack in more gear.
The flooded marsh is fairly shallow, especially in early season but like all the marshes here it’s full of trip hazards, including submerged clumps of grass and Nutria holes. Take a stick to help keep you upright.
It also has only two adjacent blinds, 16 to the north and 18 to the south, meaning birds flying to the east or west of the blind won’t get skyblasted before you get a chance at them.
I’ve hunted this blind, but not in the past two years. It’s often the first blind taken and I haven’t had the first pick lately. Also, during both hunts I did not have a lot of luck. In fact, the first time we hunted this blind we only got one duck. Out of frustration I took five coot and made a coot pate out of their ample leg quarters.
This season I watched a trio of hunters work this blind from a seat in nearby Blind 18. They bagged a three-man limit that day by setting up a “V” of decoys out in front of the blind with the blind at the tip. They took plenty of feet-down shots but also dropped a number of overhead birds. Given that you are almost surrounded by water and that you have a 360-degree view you should have plenty of options for setting up.
If the birds are flying they should be all over you most of the day.
This blind does get more than its fair share of geese, too. There’s some room behind the blind to drop a few goose decoys if you want to try to get some low. Otherwise you will probably get a shot at some low flyers or loaners during the morning flyout from their roosts on the refuge.