Ground blinds are a great way to set up for deer, antelope, turkeys and other species. Hunting at eye level is a great option when you can’t put up a treestand. Ground blinds are quick, portable and they provide great cover to hide hunters and block human scent. They are equally effective for rifle, bow or crossbow hunters and there are specific designs to accommodate various equipment.
Not only do blinds hide hunter movement, but they also protect from the elements and allow you to access extra gear without spooking the game. Consider using a blind with a dark interior, where hunters can dress in dark clothes and move without being detected. This is useful when you are lifting and using optics to properly field judge antlers, horns or beards. Archers can draw their bows at the right time without being seen.
How often have you been hunting and been caught off guard by a deer that appears out of nowhere? Getting caught usually means you can’t move and the opportunity to harvest an animal slips away in a frustrating experience.
Where to Set Up
Knowing where to set up blinds is quite an art and, when done correctly, puts the hunter at a distinct advantage. Choosing a blind location along a travel corridor or a feeding area is a main factor, but blending the blind into the surroundings and setting up for prevailing winds can be even more important.
Placing a new object in the deer’s woods can be compared to having something new in your neighborhood. When you head home from work, you’ll notice if one of your neighbors bought a new truck or painted their house a different color. Deer are the same; if you put up a blind, they will be suspicious of it until they confirm that it isn’t a threat. They will notice it as a new object in their home territory unless it is blended well into the environment so that it doesn’t stick out.
There are exceptions to the rule. Some species, like antelope and turkey, can be less shy of foreign objects that suddenly appear on the landscape. However, taking steps to stay hidden is always beneficial. The more attention you pay to the details, the more successful you’ll be.
Here are some essential blind-hunting tactics to help you get eye-to-eye with your quarry.
Knowing where to set up your blind is likely the biggest factor in success on a hunt. You could throw the blind up on the edge of a field, but doing a little scouting will allow a hunter to pin down travel corridors between feeding and bedding areas. It will also allow you to make informed decisions on a blind location. You can then set up where the big, mature deer move between preferred hideouts and feeding areas. Mature deer don’t travel in the open, and the game trails winding through dense cover are always a better option for locating trophy antlers.
If you need more time to walk the trails, use trail cameras to stay informed and to understand and know regular movement and patterns. The most important hours spent hunting are figuring out where your quarry lives and what they do daily. Don’t make the mistake of setting up for what you observed in previous years. Conditions change. With an increased presence of predators, crop rotations, drought and other weather and seasonal events, the best guiding factors are the most recent ones you can get.
Advance Set Up
Critters like Whitetails are always hard to deceive so setting up a blind long before you plan to hunt will maximize its efficiency. Deer avoid new objects until they are proven to be no threat. Setting up your blind weeks before the deer season starts allows the new smells and outlines to become part of a deer’s familiar territory.
If you cannot set it up in advance, place the blind where it is concealed and not obvious. Move off the edge of the field and get it inside the treeline for better concealment. You will not have the same visibility, but plan for the deer to walk in front of you. This is where your homework pays off, because being concealed helps you anticipate a shot opportunity.
Don’t settle for a blind setup on a fence line or in a strip of trees. Become the fence line or the trees.
Blend the blind to the surrounding habitat with brush, grass, cattail or other natural vegetation. Most blinds have straps or cords to attach natural hide in order to help your blind disappear into the environment. Fresh-cut tree limbs, bundles of grass, straw or other vegetation work twofold by blending visually and olfactorily. Some blinds have carbon odor suppressors, but adding natural smells is always beneficial. The best way to make a blind scent-free is to leave it set up outdoors in the elements. Over time, it becomes part of the habitat in both sight and smell.
If you can’t get it out into the field, set your blind up in your backyard so it can air out and not smell like your garage or storage shed. It will work better if it gets rained on a few times and the sun has a chance to heat the fabric. The more time it spends outside, the better.
When you set up the blind, dress in dark clothing to take advantage of the murky concealment being created. Wear a facemask or camo face paint to keep all advantages.
Wind and Sun
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to hide human scent, deer and other ungulates can still detect it. Smart hunters will place blinds upwind of their quarry where animal movement is anticipated.
Treat your blind and trail cameras with Scent Killer Gold to shorten the time for the blind to be undetected or ignored. Make sure to put a chair in at the same time, so that it can also be sprayed down and aired out. Ozonics can also be used to better hide a hunter at the molecular level but set it up properly and pay attention to the wind.
Deer and turkeys always catch movement, and bright objects or shining faces can spoil all the work you put into the setup. A hunter is the only thing left to spoil the situation. When setting up to target an animal on an active game trail, always try to place your blind downwind with the sun behind you. It might mean the blind is better suited for a morning or evening hunt, but the extra advantage is worth the effort and detail. Setting up different blinds for hunting in the morning and the evening can also cover you for changing winds.
Avoid a Pigeonhole
Set blinds off the edge of openings and blend in, but don’t pigeonhole yourself. Setting up in a spot with limited visibility and a single shooting lane may mean you don’t see a deer in time to react, field judge and get into position for a shot.
Create lines of sight if needed. Create areas where deer will travel up and down a trail, through a slough bottom or along the bottom of a valley. The right location is tied to your scouting or ongoing trail camera monitoring.
A food plot or agricultural field with high protein feed will surely attract a host of does and bucks at any time. Having the ladies come to feed regularly is the best way to draw and find the dominant buck in your hunting area. Thinking ahead to the rut will put you in a prime location to be successful.
Natural features that concentrate animals or movement can quickly become a honey hole. Travel corridors, pinch points and natural funnels increase animal activity and movement. A favorite spot to hunt is a small strip of land between two wetlands, with willows and shrubs but no trees. Deer are funneled between the wetlands, making it ideal for the blind. Creeks, draws and even agricultural fields can funnel animal movement.
Don’t Educate Them
Blind placement is critical, but using it wisely means never letting the critters see you in the blind, which includes going to and leaving the structure. It may mean arriving at the blind long before the sun comes up or sitting well after the sun goes down, but don’t even think of coming or going until you are sure the deer won’t see, smell or hear you.
If a deer confirms you as a human near the blind, it will look for you whenever it goes through the area or entirely avoid it. They will even change their travel movements to use the wind or cover to avoid the blind. Deer have their preferred patterns but will change these instantly to avoid hunters. Make sure you pattern the deer and don’t have them pattern you.
Once you look for the little details, you’ll see more animals and birds throughout the season. Stacking advantage in your favor will pay off with filled tags and a new appreciation for concealment.
Blinds and Accessories
Staying concealed and warm is a bonus if you live in a cold climate. The Pro Series Thermal Blind provides a visual cover, holds heat and helps contain human scent. The five-hub design makes an asymmetrical shape with enough room for four people. It is wrapped with heavy-duty welded fabric, adding insulated protection on the roof, walls and windows. Silent-slide windows/mesh let you stay quiet until it is time to shoot. The ShadowGuard coating eliminates shadows and silhouettes, permitting movement in the blind. Eight triangular and four large vertical windows provide sight and shooting pathways in every direction. The blind has a carry bag with backpack straps, cam buckle tie-downs, carabiner and ground stakes.
The Browning Evade pop-up blind sets up quickly and has a blackout backing inside that eliminates shadows and conceals movement to increase hunter success. Available in Realtree Excape or Mossy Oak Country DNA, the blind will blend into any natural environment. The blind is made with 600D polyester for durability. A double door and magnetic door closures eliminate noise. A Silent-Trac window system allows them to stay closed until the hunter is ready to shoot, not spooking game. The Browning Evade has a center height of 5′ 10″ and a width of 74 inches. It weighs 19 lbs. 8 oz. The blind is fitted with a 360-degree ground skirt, bow hanger, four gear pockets, fiberglass poles with aluminum hubs and engineered tips and pins. It also has brush-in loops, stakes with tie-downs and a carry bag with shoulder straps.
The Stealth Hunter 360 Blind Chair from ALPS OutdoorZ has four legs that are individually adjustable for height and are supported with a large pad to keep the chair from sinking into the ground. This makes it suitable for any terrain. The chair comes apart for transport, folds up effortlessly and has a shoulder strap.
Concealment with a view is the best way to describe the Prevue blind. The blind features two full-width windows and one full-width panoramic window with one-way see-through mesh. The camouflage fabric looks solid from the outside, but hunters can see through the material like a window from the inside. The blind is small and portable and built with durable construction for rugged use. The blind comes in Mossy Oak Elements Terra and will accommodate up to four hunters.
The Ozonics HR500 is an enhanced model with increased performance for odor control. The unit is quieter when used in Boost and Hyperboost modes and can be controlled with a hands-free app or remote control. The HR500 is Bluetooth app-enabled, meaning users can operate the unit with little movement with a smartphone. The free app allows for control of the ozone output or changing the mode. The unit has a long-lasting XL battery, charger, and T-Handle with a new Smart Arm Tree Mount. The unit is remote compatible (sold separately) to immediately increase ozone output at the touch of a button.