Hunting VideosBowhunt or Die
Hunting Ground Blinds
One October afternoon up in northern Saskatchewan, a 300-pound buck with a black, gnarly rack that took my breath away stepped out of the bush. As I was trembling and settling my muzzleloader on his shoulder, he threw up his head and looked 125 yards across the meadow. I froze. He didn’t see me, but he sure saw my hunting ground blind. He stomped, wheezed and flagged away like he’d just see the boogeyman.
Three weeks later I returned to Canada for a rifle hunt. My mama didn’t raise a dummy. I pulled that pop-up off the ridge, moved 60 yards to the west, tucked it deeper into the spruce that rimmed the glade and brushed it up with boughs and grass.
Later that afternoon another monster stepped out of the willows and looked my way. “Uh, oh,” I cringed. But he dropped his head and kept coming, muscles rippling and 150-inch rack shining in the sun. My .270 cracked, and the big boy fell 70 yards from the hunting ground blind’s door.
Those hunts pretty much sum it up. You can either spook a big deer from a ground blind, or sit there and shoot him dead. It depends on where you put your hunting ground blind, and how well you set it up.
Hay Bale Blinds
A round hay bale blind, a slash pile, a fallen treetop, a copse of switch grass...you get the picture. If you can find a natural structure near a food source, trail or funnel blazed with deer rubs and scrapes, it should be your first choice for a ground attack. That way you blend in with a natural part of a buck’s habitat. Hide in a nook or cranny that deer see and walk past most every day and you’ll do well.
But sometimes you’ve got to get more aggressive and take your game to the deer. One December, I patterned a herd of animals staging in a CRP field and nibbling tender green forbs that had sprouted after a rain. The pasture was dotted with cedars two to four feet high. I cut a few bushes, dragged them to a spot where the visibility and wind were good, arranged a hide in two minutes and climbed in. That afternoon 20 deer strolled within muzzleloader range and never blinked an eye. I smoked an 8-pointer.
It worked because I was able to blend my portable hunting blind into the surroundings. If you can’t do that, forget about it. If you build a big, new portable hunting blind out in an open field (or in open woods for that matter) and try to hunt it the same day, most every old deer that approaches from 200 yards away will spot it, slam on the brakes and wonder something like, “What’s that blob, I’ve never seen it before?” Old does will start head bobbing, blowing and running. You probably won’t get a shot at a buck with a slug gun or a muzzleloader, and you certainly won’t shoot an arrow.
This is perhaps the most important thing to remember--cover your back. Stack cedars, logs or brush behind you so that it fully covers your head and shoulders when you sit down to hunt. Background cover with no large holes of air is what breaks your outline and hides your moves. You need only minimal cover in front and on the sides. And don’t get carried away. The smaller a hunting ground blind and the lower its overall profile, the less chance deer will pick it out.
Pop Up Hunting Blinds
There are hundreds of portable hunting blinds on the market. Any model can work well if you hunt smart and hide it. Tuck a tent into a brushy fencerow, amidst some dead-fall timber, in a weed ditch that rims a field...you get the picture. It can’t hurt to choose a camouflage pattern that matches your terrain. Green camo near a wheat field, desert camo near a plains waterhole, etc. Then go a step further and brush the hunting ground blind with oak limbs, pine boughs, prairie grass or the like. Again, the better you hide it, the better off you’ll be.
Sunlight shining onto a canvas ground blind can light it up like neon. Whitetails might spot that sheen hundreds of yards away. So face a morning ground blind west and an evening ground blind east so you’ll be hidden in mottled shadows. Of course your blind needs to be downwind of where you expect to see and shoot a deer. Spray it down good with your favorite odor- killer. Be sure to close the rear door and window flaps so deer can’t look through your blind, see you move and bust you.
More Hunting Ground Blind Tips
- In the summer build a stick blind near a field or on a ridge where you hunt a lot. Or set up a portable hunting blind and let it weather and blend in. Come season, it will be a natural part of the landscape, and deer will be accustomed to it.
- I’ve found that deer are most apt to spot a new hunting ground blind in October or later in December, when their senses are on red alert. Try a ground attack during the rut, when bucks drop their guard. A bruiser chasing a doe might run smack over your hunting ground blind!
- With a lot of setups, and especially late in the season, you have more cover on the ground than up in bald tree when the leaves are down. Keep your movements to a minimum and deer will rarely see you.
- If a deer sees you one day, he or she will look hard in that direction from then on and get ultra-spooky. Move your hunting ground blind 50 to 100 yards and renew your ground game.
- IMPORTANT: Do not set up where deer will walk straight at you through the open woods. If an old doe catches you move or simply sees your hunting ground blind as some strange blob that wasn’t there yesterday, she’ll either spook outright or back off and skirt you. Any buck behind her will probably do the same. Instead, set up where animals will walk past your hunting ground blind at an angle, either quartering-on or, better, quartering away. This way, a doe or buck won’t see your hunting ground blind’s outline from the get-go and get suspicious. If and when an 8-pointer walks into range, you’ll be out of his direct line of sight when you draw your bow or shift your gun. And finally, he’ll be in good position for a shot, either quartering or broadside.
- When gun hunting, I sit either on the ground on a small folding stool with my back against a tree as wide as my body. That back cover is most important. I craft a small fort of sticks, grass and the like around me. Great tip: Use your boots to clear the leaves around your feet down to the dirt, so you can sit and turn quietly. Take those piles of leaves and sprinkle them over and in the hunting ground blind sticks to further break your outline.
- For archery hunting, I often just simply stand behind a tree about 20 inches wide. I try to put another wide tree or, better, a copse of several trees three or four feet behind me. This gives me the required back cover, and I can crouch hidden behind the front tree until it’s time to draw and shoot. I usually build a small screen of sticks and brush to the sides, but again I keep it tight and small.
- Accessories: My little hunting stool gives me a couple feet of elevation to see and shoot a buck that comes mincing through the woods. You need that extra height, so packing a stool is worth the hassle. I always use a monopod or shooting sticks for a rock-solid gun rest.
- I use the stool when bowhunting from a natural hunting ground blind to take a load off until the deer start to move. Then I stand and remain standing. I screw a utility hook or a specialized arm-type bow holder in the front tree, and hang my compound on it at shoulder height. When I see a deer I lift it off the hook with little noise and movement, two big keys to success when you’re trying to whack a deer from ground zero.
Hunting Ground Blind Manufactures
- API Outdoors
- Big Game Treestands
- Double Bull Archery
- Summit Treestands