Title:
Field assembleable wildlife observation shelter
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A field assembleable wildlife observation shelter having an assembled configuration as that of a naturally occurring environmental element is provided. The shelter, which is modular in design, includes a plurality of rigid wall forming panels. Each of the rigid wall forming panels of the plurality of rigid wall forming panels has perimeter edges, and an arcuate cross section. Opposing side perimeter edges of each of the rigid wall forming panels are adapted such that adjacently paired rigid wall forming panels are reversibly securable in furtherance of forming a wall for substantially surrounding a wildlife observer. The plurality of rigid wall forming wall panels are configurable so as to form a transportable stack, more particularly, to define a secured bundle.



Inventors:
Erickson, Stewart E. (Hudson, WI, US)
Fagerlie-madsen, Thekla K. (River Falls, WI, US)
Wanner, William A. (Hudson, WI, US)
Application Number:
10/637471
Publication Date:
02/10/2005
Filing Date:
08/08/2003
Assignee:
ERICKSON STEWART E.
FAGERLIE-MADSEN THEKLA K.
WANNER WILLIAM A.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
135/901
International Classes:
E04H15/00; (IPC1-7): E04H15/18; E04H15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILKENS, JANET MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NAWROCKI, ROONEY & SIVERTSON (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
1. A field assembleable wildlife observation shelter having an assembled configuration as that of a naturally occurring environmental element, said field assembleable wildlife observation shelter comprising a plurality of rigid wall forming panels, each of the rigid wall forming panels of said plurality of rigid wall forming panels having perimeter edges and an arcuate cross section, opposing side perimeter edges of said each of the rigid wall forming panels being adapted such that adjacently paired rigid wall forming panels are reversibly securable in furtherance of forming a wall for substantially surrounding a wildlife observer.

2. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 1 wherein said each of the rigid wall forming panels includes plural spaced apart tabs laterally extending from a first side perimeter edge of said opposing side perimeter edges.

3. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 2 wherein a second side perimeter edge of said opposing side perimeter edges of said each of the rigid wall forming panels includes plural spaced apart tab receiving elements.

4. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 3 wherein at least a single binding element extends from one of said opposing side perimeter edges of said each of the rigid wall forming panels so as to secure same to an adjacently aligned rigid wall panel of said plurality of rigid wall forming panels.

5. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 4 wherein at least a single binding element extends from said first side perimeter edge of said opposing side perimeter edges of said each of the rigid wall forming panels so as to reversibly secure said adjacently aligned rigid wall panel of said plurality of rigid wall forming panels thereto.

6. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 5 wherein said at least a single binding element extending from said first side perimeter edge of said opposing side perimeter edges of said each of the rigid wall forming panels reversibly secures said adjacently aligned rigid wall panel of said plurality of rigid wall forming panels at said second side perimeter edge thereof.

7. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 6 wherein said at least a single binding element extending from said first side perimeter edge of said opposing side perimeter edges of said each of the rigid wall forming panels extends from an interior surface thereof.

8. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 1 wherein said plurality of rigid wall forming panels are configurable so as to form a transportable stack.

9. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 wherein said each of the rigid wall forming panels are adapted such that said transportable stack defines a secured bundle.

10. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 9 wherein said each of the rigid wall forming panels includes at least a single aperture, a binding element being receivable through aligned apertures of said transportable stack in furtherance of forming said secured bundle.

11. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 wherein said transportable stack of rigid wall forming panels is adapted so as to operatively receive a ground engaging wheel assembly in furtherance of field transport.

12. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 11 wherein said transportable stack of rigid wall forming panels is further adapted so as to operatively receive a hitch assembly in furtherance of field transport.

13. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 wherein said each of the rigid wall forming panels of said plurality of rigid wall panels includes a viewing port in an upper portion thereof.

14. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 13 wherein said viewing port is adapted to receive a covering, said covering having an exterior finish consistent with an exterior finish of said each of the rigid wall forming panels of said plurality of rigid wall panels.

15. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 14 wherein at least one of said each of the rigid wall forming panels of said plurality of rigid wall panels is further adapted to receive shelving on an interior surface thereof.

16. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 wherein said each of the rigid wall forming panels of said plurality of rigid wall panels is adapted to be selectively anchorable at a wildlife observation site.

17. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 16 wherein said each of the rigid wall forming panels of said plurality of rigid wall panels includes an anchor receiving element depending there from.

18. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 16 further comprising a lid for covering at least a portion of an opening defined by an upper extent of a rigid wall formed by said plurality of rigid wall forming panels.

19. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 18 wherein said lid is selective positionable over said opening.

20. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 19 wherein said lid includes a viewing port.

21. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 further comprising a ballast element operatively receivable by at least a portion of a rigid wall formed by said plurality of rigid wall forming panels.

22. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 21 wherein said ballast element permits controlled ingress of water into a compartment thereof so as to stabilize said field assembleable wildlife observation shelter.

23. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 22 further comprising an anchoring system for maintaining the stabilized wildlife observation shelter in a generally fixed position at a wildlife observation site.

24. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 wherein said naturally occurring wildlife element is selected from the group consisting of tree stump, rock pile, boulder, hay bale, muskrat house, and beaver lodge.

25. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 wherein the naturally occurring environmental element is conspicuously colored.

26. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 wherein an owner of said blind has registered same with a government entity.

27. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 wherein a user of said blind has secured a permit for use thereof.

28. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 further comprising a base panel, said base panel defining a base for said transportable stack.

29. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 further comprising hardware for anchoring said transportable stack to a vehicle.

30. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 further comprising a plurality of fixtures for fastening said transportable stack to a vehicle structure.

31. The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of claim 8 further comprising a supplemental panel for selectively expanding a perimeter of said wall.

32. A readily assembleable wildlife observation shelter comprising a plurality of rigid arcuate panels, each rigid arcuate panel of said plurality of rigid arcuate panels being reversibly joinable so as to form a substantially continuous wall, said plurality of rigid arcuate panels being configurable so as to form a transportable, secured stack in furtherance of facilitating field deployment.

33. In a method of observing wildlife from a field assembleable shelter, the steps comprising: a. permitting said field assembleable shelter with a permit issuing entity; and, b. transporting said field assembleable shelter to a site for observing wildlife as a secured transportable stack.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention generally relates to structures from which to observe wildlife and the like, more particularly, to a field assembleable, modular wildlife observation shelter which is readily stowable and transportable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Whether it be for hunting or otherwise, concealment is a critical, essential component to up close viewing of wildlife in their habitat. Tactics in furtherance of up close viewing of wildlife are known to include the use of personal camouflage, whether it be the person per se (i.e., vis-a-vis clothing, face paint, etc.) or items of the person such as binoculars, packs, or weapons; concealment structures, whether natural or artificial, such as hunting blinds or the like; and/or the use of decoys to attract or induce wildlife to a given location.

Natural blinds, for example those established in marsh and field areas (e.g., reeds, stalks, etc.), when available, are easily broken and/or trampled from use, becoming ineffective cover for concealment. Furthermore, such “cover” provides minimal or no shelter, a wildlife observer being substantially subject to the wind, rain, snow, etc.

Many hunters make their own blinds or shelters using heavy, rigid framing elements surrounded by, or overlain with, for example, willow sticks, hay or straw so as to simulate a naturally occurring environmental element. In addition to not effectively breaking the wind, natural materials used to construct such structures are not always available, are difficult to reliably piece together once collected, and in the case where the items are to be transported to an observation position, are especially cumbersome and difficult to mobilize.

A variety of hunting blinds are known, and known to be commercially available. Blinds or shelters can range from fixed, permanent or semi-permanent field outposts for up to several hunters, to assembleable tent like structures for a single user.

Traditional fabric hunting blinds, as for example U.S. Pat. No. 6,164,005, and less traditional fabric hunting blinds as perhaps exemplified by U.S. Pat. No. 6,016,823, are perceived as advantageous for their light weight and collapsiblility. Be that as it may, such structures are know to become unstable, whipping about in adverse weather conditions; known to be impractical for use with hunting dogs; easily detected by big game animals like elk and deer; and/or may involve complicated field assembly, requiring, among other things, tools and helping hands.

Conventional rigid concealment structures for hunting are almost always characterized by numerous pieces and parts which necessitate a great deal of assembly, or more pointedly and literally, construction time, see for example U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,017,194, 3,018,857, 5,036,643, and 5,647,159. Although some of the cited rigid concealment structures contemplate field delivery of all the pieces and parts in a transportable “package” (e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 3,017,194 (FIG. 1), and U.S. Pat. No. 3,018,857 (FIG. 20)), such packages are not well suited for navigating through a variety of terrain and/or ground cover, readily snagging or otherwise being hung up during what inevitably becomes a taxing trek to the wildlife observation position.

It should be appreciated that it is not necessarily advantageous, let alone possible, to have the gamut of useful features heretofore known in a wildlife observation shelter. However, it is highly desirable and advantageous to provide an affordable, readily transportable and field assembleable modular wildlife observation shelter which can accommodate one or more wildlife observers, including a dog. Advantageously the components of the shelter may be arranged to define a secured bundle within, or upon which sundry items my be stowed, the secured bundle being easily adapted for vehicle or user carriage. Furthermore, it is beneficial to provide a shelter, which when assembled, simulates a natural environmental element, e.g., tree stump, rock pile, boulder, hay bale, muskrat house, rat lodge, beaver lodge, etc. Further still, it is advantageous that such shelter have a configuration which permits an agile sitting position for a sheltered observer, is capable of physical expansion, and has an ample ingress/egress for use by disabled or physically challenged individuals.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A field assembleable wildlife observation shelter having an assembled configuration as that of a naturally occurring environmental element is provided. The shelter, which is modular in design, includes a plurality of rigid wall forming panels. Each of the rigid wall forming panels of the plurality of rigid wall forming panels has perimeter edges, and an arcuate cross section. Opposing side perimeter edges of each of the rigid wall forming panels are adapted such that adjacently paired rigid wall forming panels are reversibly securable in furtherance of forming a wall for substantially surrounding a wildlife observer. The plurality of rigid wall forming wall panels are configurable so as to form a transportable stack, more particularly, to define a secured bundle.

More specific features and advantages obtained in view of those features will become apparent with reference to the drawing figures and DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates the field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of the subject invention, configured as a tree stump, in an assembled condition at a wildlife observation site, the assembled shelter shown in a perspective view, slightly from above;

FIG. 2 is a partial fragmentary side elevation view of the shelter of FIG. 1 illustrating further features thereof;

FIG. 3 is an exploded, perspective view, slightly from above, of the “front” wall forming panel of the shelter of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 illustrates an assembled and deployed wildlife observation shelter of the subject invention configured as a rock pile, shown in perspective view, slightly from above;

FIG. 5 is a partial fragmentary side elevation view of the shelter of FIG. 4 illustrating a physically impaired hunter and his dog therein;

FIG. 6 illustrates an exterior elevation view of the supplemental or extension panel of the subject invention, configured for selective incorporation into the shelter of FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 illustrates incorporation of the extension panel of FIG. 6 into the shelter of FIG. 4, an oversized lid being provided;

FIG. 8 illustrates an assembled and deployed wildlife observation shelter of the subject invention configured as a lodge, shown in perspective view, slightly from above;

FIG. 9 is a partial fragmentary side elevation view of the shelter of FIG. 8 illustrating ballast and anchoring elements thereof;

FIG. 10, illustrates the shelter of FIG. 9, wherein decking is further provided so as to define an observer platform;

FIG. 11 illustrates the shelter of FIG. 9, wherein an alternate anchoring element is provided, more particularly, a dry well;

FIG. 12 illustrates a sectional perspective view of the ballast element of FIG. 9, including the integration of shelter stabilizers;

FIG. 13 illustrates adjacent rigid wall forming panels of the subject invention in an intermediate state of engagement;

FIG. 14 illustrates a perspective view of a plurality of rigid wall forming panels of FIG. 13 configured so as to form a transportable stack, more particularly, to define a secured bundle;

FIG. 15 is a sectional view of the secured bundle of FIG. 14, taken about line 15-15;

FIG. 16 illustrates a base or skid panel for integration with the secured bundle of FIG. 14;

FIG. 17 illustrates the functionality of the skid panel of FIG. 16 in an assembled wildlife observation shelter, more particularly as an interior wall section;

FIG. 18 illustrates the functionality of the skid panel of FIG. 16 during mobilization of the field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of the subject invention;

FIG. 19 illustrates a further mobilization methodology for the secured bundle of the subject invention, namely floated towing by canoe;

FIGS. 20, 20A &20B illustrate yet a further mobilization methodology of the secured bundle of the subject invention via a roof rack or the like, more particularly, via use of mounting hardware;

FIGS. 21 & 21A illustrate an alternate means by which the secured bundle of the subject invention may be attached to a vehicle in furtherance of field mobilization;

FIGS. 22 & 22A illustrate a ground engaging wheel assembly for operative engagement with the secured bundle of the subject invention in furtherance of field mobilization; and, FIGS. 23 & 23A illustrate a hitch assembly in combination with the secured bundle of the subject invention so as to facilitate field mobilization.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of the subject invention, in all of its embodiments, has an assembled configuration as that of a naturally occurring environmental element, for example, a tree stump (FIG. 1), a rock pile (FIG. 4), or a lodge (FIG. 8). Such illustrations are exemplary, and not intended to be necessarily limiting. Other naturally occurring environmental elements, for example a boulder, hay stack or bale, etc. are likewise contemplated. In as much as the assembled shelter is intended to “blend” into the environment into which it is deployed, i.e., it may be advantageous for the configuration to have a camouflaged appearance, there being circumstances under which a conspicuous appearance for the configuration is preferable, e.g., a blaze or hunter's orange appearance in furtherance safety, more particularly, selective detection by other hunters while remaining “invisible” to game.

Referring now generally to FIGS. 1-3, the field assembleable wildlife observation shelter 30 of the subject invention, shown in an assembled tree stump configuration at a wildlife observation site, generally includes a plurality of rigid wall forming panels 32, each of the rigid wall forming panels 34 of the plurality of rigid wall forming panels 32 having perimeter edges 36, and an arcuate cross section 38. Opposing side perimeter edges 40 of each of the rigid wall forming panels 34 are adapted such that adjacently paired rigid wall forming panels 34 are reversibly securable in furtherance of forming a wall 42 for substantially surrounding a wildlife observer 44. Unless otherwise and specifically noted, the following discussion applies to the rockpile shelter of FIGS. 4-7 and the lodge shelter of FIGS. 8-12.

All assembled shelter styles generally permit observation of field activities in a 360° range of motion. Viewing ports 46 are preferably included in each of the rigid wall forming panels 34 as shown, effectively establishing two sets of opposingly paired ports for the wall 42. As is readily appreciated, the configurations for, and/or position of the viewing or observation ports are numerous and not intended to be limited to those illustrated, functionality bearing greatly on port style and size. For instance, a substantially continuous viewing “ring” may be defined by two or more ring forming segments so as to provide an observer with a less interrupted view than that illustrated. Likewise, it may be advantageous to have a viewing port that is vertically, as opposed to horizontally, oriented.

In furtherance of concealed wildlife observation, the viewing ports 46 are adapted to preferably receive a covering 48 which provides a finished or continuous external appearance for the wall forming panel 34, and thereby the assembled wall 42/shelter 30. As the apertures which define the viewing ports 46, the coverings 48 are subject to design choice, to the extent that a cohesive, external impression is maintained. A mesh or screen covering is illustrated and exemplary.

Each of the wall forming panels of the plurality of wall forming panels is preferably adapted to be selectively anchorable at the wildlife observation site. An anchor receiving element 50, for example a “skirt” or flap as shown with respect to FIGS. 1-7, depends from a bottom, ground engaging perimeter of the panel 34. More particularly, the flap 50 may outwardly extend from a lower edge 52 of the panel 34, or a point adjacent thereto, either from the interior surface 54 or exterior surface 56 thereof (FIG. 3). As best seen in FIGS. 1, 4 &7, the flap 50 may positioned beyond the shelter foot print for anchoring by a spike, or rock, advantageous when the ground is frozen, as shown in FIG. 1, or the flap 50 may be positioned to be within the foot print of the shelter, and similarly weighed down or otherwise held to the ground surface as shown in FIG. 2. Alternate anchoring/stabilizing mechanisms will be later discussed in the context of the lodge shelter, FIGS. 8-12, that is to say, shelters intended for water/marshland deployment.

Convenient ingress/egress to or from the shelter 30 is best accomplished by a coverable opening or “man way” 58 in at least one of the rigid wall forming panels 34. Ideally, the opening need only be dimensioned to permit a shelter user to pass therethrough, however larger openings are contemplated to facilitate passage of larger items. During field assembly, items unable to pass through the opening, may be “built around,” that is to say, the shelter, short of the “last” panel, may be assembled, with such items placed therein so as to be enclosed subsequent to securing the last panel so as to form the shelter wall. With such wildlife observation set up, special needs persons, such as wheel chair bound individuals, may be easily accommodated, and, the man way may even be omitted without a loss of functionality of such feature. Advantageously, a dog door 60 may also be incorporated or otherwise provided in at least one of the rigid wall forming panels 34 of the shelter 30 as is shown, for example, in FIG. 5.

As with the viewing port covers, it is especially important that the covering of the man way be consistent with the exterior appearance and general configuration of the shelter 30. A rigid closure is shown, more particularly, a rigid closure 62 including a viewing port 64. The closure or covering 62 may be of limitless design, for instance be styled as a hatch cover, held in place by easily manipulated latches or other reversible fasteners, or may be a hinged door, having a left/right, or up/down swing.

As previously noted, the assembled panels 34 form a rigid wall 42 for substantially surrounding a wildlife observer 44. The upper extent of the shelter wall 42 defines an opening 66, more particularly a top opening for the shelter 30. In as much as an open top may be advantageous, as the case might be when hunting ground traveling animals from the stump shelter of FIGS. 1 and 2, it may also be desirable to have more comprehensive concealment vis-a-vis the inclusion of a lid or topper 68, as when hunting birds from the rock or lodge shelters of FIGS. 4-7 and 8-11 respectively.

Generally, the lid 68 for covering at least a portion of the opening 66 defined by the upper extent of the rigid wall 42 formed by the plurality of rigid wall forming panels 32 may have attributes common with the man way or ingress/egress hatch 58. For instance, the lid 68 preferably includes a viewing port 70, and viewing port cover 72, and may be hingedly linked, as shown, to a portion of the shelter wall 42, or more generally may be engaged by at least a portion of the upper extent (e.g., the rim or mouth 74 of the shelter wall 42) for support thereupon. As with the viewing port covers, it is important that all coverings for the shelter openings have an exterior finish consistent with the shelter motif so as to present a cohesive external configuration and appearance for same.

Several auxiliary items are contemplated for the field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of the subject invention. Consistent with blending in with the surrounding environment, portions of the shelter, e.g., rigid wall forming panels thereof, are preferably adapted to receive or support items such as, but not limited to, decoys 76 (e.g., hand operable as shown for example in FIGS. 2, 5, and 9 or otherwise), vegetation 78 (FIGS. 4 and 8), etc. With respect to enhancing the observation or hunting experience, portions of the shelter 30, e.g., rigid wall forming panels 34 thereof, are preferably adapted to receive or support items such as, but not limited to, shelving 80 (see e.g., FIG. 2), or holders, hangers, etc., flooring or decking 82 (see e.g., FIG. 10) ballasts or floatation element(s) 84 (see e.g., FIGS. 9-12 a dry well 86 (see e.g., FIG. 11).

The rigid wall forming panels 34 of the subject invention are preferably of arcuate cross-section, or more generally, are non-planar elements. As will be latter discussed in detail with reference to FIGS. 13-16, the panels 34 are preferably curved throughout their width (i.e., between their opposing side perimeter edges 40), and may also be advantageously curved throughout their length (i.e., between their opposing end perimeter edges 41, or more conventionally, their top and bottom edges).

With particular reference to FIGS. 6 and 7, the field assembleable wildlife observation shelter 30 of the subject invention may further include one or more supplemental, extension panels 88. As may readily be appreciated, such supplemental panels 88 add to the modularity of the shelters of the subject invention, the supplemental panels being analogous to a table leaf: should several wildlife observers want concealed shelter, e.g., a hunting party of two or three persons, the assembled structure, more particularly the rigid wall forming panels 34 thereof, can easily include or incorporate a pair of extension panels 88. Although flat panels are contemplated, they may suitably have an arcuate cross section, preferable compatible with the cross section of the adjacent wall forming panels of the assembly. Furthermore, the inclusion or incorporation of such an extension panel 88 or panels into the wall 42 of the shelter 30 necessitates, as the case may be, that the lid or cover 68 be oversized. In the instant “hunting party” scenario, field transport of the shelter, whether non, partially or fully assembled, is most likely, and advantageously by a motor driven vehicle whether in the bed of a pick-up or towed by all terrain vehicle. This particular modular shelter design is ideally suited to guides, outfitters, etc. who would make such shelters available for use by hunters, perhaps tailoring the configurations of the pre-deployed shelters to a particular user's needs or expectations on a case by case basis.

When waterfowl or the like is contemplated for observation, the shelter of FIGS. 8-11 is particularly well suited for such activity. As previously noted, a ballast element 84 is operably receivable by at least a portion of the rigid wall 42 formed by the plurality of rigid wall forming panels 34. The ballast element 84 preferably, but not necessarily includes one or more ring forming segments 90. Each segment 90 of the ballast element 84 preferably includes two compartments or chambers, namely a sealed air compartment 92, and a water receiving compartment 94. Each segment 90 is adapted to securingly and reversibly receive a lower end portion (e.g., the bottom edge or lower rim 52) of the rigid wall 42 formed by the wall forming panels 34, more particularly, the lower end portion of the rigid wall 52 is interposed between upper portions of the compartments 92, 94 of the ballast element 84, which are generally oriented in a spaced apart condition. The ballast element 84 permits controlled ingress of water, preferably from the wetland environment into which the shelter is deployed, into water receiving compartment 94 so as to stabilize the assembled observation shelter.

The water receiving compartment 94 of the ballast element 84 generally has a rectangular or box like cross section, the sealed air compartment 92 outwardly extending from a lateral side wall 96 thereof, namely an exterior lateral sidewall. The bottom surface 98 of the water receiving compartment 94 includes apertures 100 to permit ingress/egress of water into/from the chamber 94. The top or upper surface 102 of the water receiving compartment 94 includes at least a single capped vent 104 capable of regulating the ingress of water into the compartment 94, and the buoyancy of the shelter thereby. As illustrated, the upper surface 102 of the compartment 94 may include profiled portions 106 for receiving a variety of holders for beverages, shells, etc., or the items directly.

In furtherance of shelter stability when deployed in a wetland, an anchor, tether or equivalent mechanism 108 is desirable. As shown in FIGS. 9, 10 and 12, the ballast element 84 is adapted to receive one or more telescoping legs 110 which may downwardly and outwardly extend from the water receiving compartment 94 for driven placement into the local “bottom” 112 of the wetland. This approach is especially well suited where an observer wishes to be elevated above the local water surface, for instance, when flooring or decking 82 substantially traverses the area bounded by the buoyancy element 84 as shown in FIG. 10, an upper portion of the telescoping legs, or fixture for same, aiding in the support of the decking. Alternately, a dry well 86 may engage a lower portion of the rigid wall 42 of the shelter 30 so as to downwardly extend to and/or into the local “bottom” 112 of the wetland as shown in FIG. 11. Although not show, the stabilizing mechanism may include a tether, more particularly, a chain, rope, chord, etc. which attaches the shelter to a element driven into the “bottom” of the wetland.

With reference now to FIGS. 13-16, further details of the rigid wall forming panels of the subject field assembleable wildlife observation shelter will be provided, and functionality discussed. As previously noted, each of the panels 34 has an arcuate cross section 38, preferably, each of the panels 34 is curved or bowed across their width, i.e., from side to side. It is intended to be within the spirit and scope of the subject invention that the panels may further be curved, uniformly or otherwise, across their length, i.e., from top to bottom.

Preferably, but not necessarily, each of the rigid wall forming panels 34 includes plural spaced apart tabs 114 laterally extending from a first side perimeter edge 116 of the opposing side perimeter edges 36 thereof. A second side perimeter edge 118 of the opposing side perimeter edges 36 of each of the rigid wall forming panels 34 includes plural spaced apart tab receiving elements 120. Adjacently paired wall forming panels are aligned by mating the tabs 114/tab receivers 120 of the one panel, with the tab receivers 120/tabs 114 of the other panel.

At least a single binding element 122, e.g., a strap, extends from one of the opposing side perimeter edges 36 of each of the rigid wall forming panels 34 so as to secure same, directly or indirectly, to an adjacently aligned rigid wall panel 34 of said plurality of rigid wall forming panels 32. As shown in FIG. 13, a pair of binding elements 122 extend from the first side perimeter edge 116, in the present case, the side perimeter edge from which the tabs 114 extend. The free end of the strap 122 is threaded through a loop, or more generally keeper 124, affixed to the side perimeter edge 36 opposite the side from which the strap 122 extends (i.e., the second perimeter edge 118) of the adjacent panel. Subsequently, the free end of the strap 122 is effectively returned to the point from which it extends, for reversible affixation, as by cooperative engagement of hooks and loops of a hook and loop fastening system carried by the mating surfaces thereof. The means by which adjacent panels are reversibly secured may be carried by either the exterior 56 or interior 54 panel surface, and, as is readily appreciated, the manner of securing adjacent panels need not be limited to the disclosed means, nor need it be limited to the described arrangements for the disclosed elements, as a matter of fact, a variety of other know reversible fastening mechanism are contemplated.

Critical to the effectiveness of the subject field assembleable wildlife observation shelter is its mobilization, that is to say its ease of mobilization, to a wildlife observation site. As previously discussed, uses for the subject shelter can be variable, and so too the nature of the user or users. In furtherance of mobilization, be it human power, animal power, or motorized vehicle, the plurality of rigid wall forming panels are configurable so as to form a transportable stack. The wall forming panels 34 are adapted such that the transportable stack defines a secured bundle 126 as shown for example in FIGS. 14-18. For example, each of the rigid wall forming panels 34 includes at least a single aperture 128, and a binding element 130 (e.g., a strap (FIG. 14, compression fitting (FIG. 16), etc.) for receipt through the aligned apertures of the transportable stack in furtherance of forming the secured bundle 126. Use may also be made of the viewing port 46, the binding elements 122 extending from one of the side perimeter edges 34, and/or the keeper 124 extending from the other of the side perimeter edges 34 of the panels 34 for forming the secured bundle 126.

Referring now particularly to FIGS. 16-18, the shelter of the subject invention may further and advantageously include a base or skid panel 132. The base panel 132 may either preferably form the outer most (i.e., bottom) panel of the transportable stack, or may be an element facilitating the transformation of the transportable stack into the secured bundle, the critical consideration being that the base panel 132 defines a potential contact or abrasion surface for the secured bundle 126 during stowage and/or transport. The base panel 132 is preferably integrated with the transportable stack via the use of select hardware, namely compression fittings such as studs 134, passing through the stacked panels 34, upon which wing nuts or the like 136 are received. In the context of the assembled shelter (FIG. 17), the base panel 132 preferably attaches to reinforce a wall forming panel 34, more particularly, to define an interior panel or wall segment for the shelter 30.

Referring now particularly to FIG. 18-22A, the transportable stack, or more particularly, the secured bundle 126, is further adapted to be carried (i.e., hauled) by a variety of means. First, in the most straight forward approach, a tow rope or the like 138 is forwardly extendable from the upper portion of the panels 34 in their stacked condition, that is to say, from the forward end portion of the transportable stack (i.e., viewing ports 46 to the front) as is contemplated in FIGS. 18 & 19.

Second, the secured bundle of the subject invention may be further readily adapted so as to be readily receivable upon, or attached to, a vehicle roof as shown in FIGS. 20-21A. For support by a roof rack or the like, FIGS. 20-20B, a mounting fixture 140 as shown links the secured bundle 126 to the cross rails 142 of an existing rack system 144. The hardware which unites or binds the rigid wall forming panels of the transportable stack are selected, or adapted as the case may be, so as to reversibly couple with the mounting fixture 140. For direct vehicle top support, FIGS. 21 & 21A, it is contemplated that the transportable stack of panels 34 be received indirectly upon a vehicle roof or the like, as for example upon a foam block 146 which provides vehicle protection and vibration dampening. Straps 148, more particularly cinch straps having vinyl coated roof clips 150 and components of a hook and loop fastening system, extend from a portion of the roof so as to capture the transportable stack and thereby define secured bundle 126.

Third, a ground engaging wheel assembly 152, FIGS. 22 & 22A, is provided for receipt by the rearward end portion of the transportable stack. The wheel assembly 152 generally includes a pair of wheels 154 operatively received upon an axle 156, the axle 156 being securable to the transportable stack via adaptation of the compression fittings 134, 136 shown.

Fourth, a hitch assembly 158, FIGS. 22 & 22A, may be utilized in combination with the wheel assembly 152, for towing as by an all terrain vehicle 160 or the like. The assembly 158 generally includes a linkage 162, one end of which is operatively incorporated or integrated with the transportable stack, the other end of which is equipped with a hitch 164 for receipt upon a ball, hook, etc. of a motorized vehicle

The subject invention disclosure is generally directed to a field assembleable wildlife observation shelter of modular design. Rigid wall forming panels are especially configured and adapted so as to permit formation of a transportable stack, more particularly a secured bundle. The secured bundle in turn is especially adapted, though it need not be, to permit convenient field transport, more particularly, to accommodate a variety of field transport options. There are other variations of the subject invention, some of which will become obvious to those skilled in the art. It will be understood that this disclosure, in many respects, is only illustrative. Changes may be made in details, particularly in matters of shape, size, material, and arrangement of parts, as the case may be, without exceeding the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the subject invention is as defined in the language of the appended claims.