Are you using ground blinds to their fullest potential? Here are three strategies to improve your odds
A good ground blind set in the right spot and hunted the right way is the best tool available for killing a deer at times. Plenty of hunters use ground blinds for keeping warm during the late season or concealing fidgety youngsters. Few use them to their fullest potential as truly deadly bowhunting tools. Here are three ways to do just that.
Use Blinds to Make No-Bust Sets
If you can’t access and hunt your stand undetected, your odds of killing a good buck plummet. I highlighted that strategy extensively in this post about no-bust stands. But sometimes, that no-bust stand isn’t a stand at all. On our farm, which is only 70 acres, we have five stands -- three of which are ground blinds -- set for various wind directions, and I’m supremely confident in all of them.
Obviously, a blind can be set where no trees are available for a stand. But all three of our blinds are set within bow range of trees where I considered hanging treestands. Ultimately, I went with blinds for convenience, comfort and ease of access. I don’t have to don my safety harness, pull my bow and gear into a tree, or even change out of my Crocs to make a short-notice hunt (and yes, I did kill a deer while from a blind while wearing Crocs last year).
The hassle and time required for a treestand hunt has kept me at home on days when I had limited time to burn. With a blind, I simply slip in from downwind, unzip the door, step inside, and presto, I’m hunting.
Use Blinds for Scent Containment
What happens when your wife is in the truck with you and you ease loose of a fart born of black coffee and the previous night’s venison steaks? That’s right, my friends. She claws for the window roller-downer to create a draft and suck your stench outside. And obviously, you’ve already locked the windows so that Pumpkin can enjoy extra time with your special brand.
The windows of a ground blind can be utilized the exact same way. Every hub-style blind on the market suitable for bowhunting has windows on all sides, and the natural tendency is to open those suckers up so that you can see. When you do that, not only are you flooding the interior of the blind with light and silhouetting yourself, but you’re also creating wind channels that purge your scent in concentrated blasts downwind.
Ideally, you’re set so that deer aren’t likely to appear next to that downwind window -- but crazy things can and do happen. The simple solution is to zip that window up tight and avoid that draft altogether. No, it isn’t 100 percent scent-containment. But it does contain a surprising amount.
Don't believe me? Invite Pumpkin out for a ground blind date after a deer-steak dinner one morning, and see if she doesn't become an expert on how those windows operate.
What's in a Good Blind?
Not all ground blinds are the same. Typically, more money gets you more room, more rigid construction, and more thoughtful design features. One of the coolest blinds I’ve seen in the past year is the Browning Phantom. At 70 inches tall, this blind has plenty of room to stand and shoot, a built-in bow-hanger and best of all, Browning’s Silent Track Window System that allows you to open a window in a fashion similar to a window blind, without fumbling around with zippers or Velcro. It retails for about $240.
Make Blinds Dissappear
Yes, area deer do eventually become accustomed to ground blinds set where they can see them, and for that reason, I like to get my early season blinds in place by the first of July. But sometimes you need to move a blind fast -- and it’s always better if the deer never know a blind is there in the first place.
Using natural foliage and branches to “brush in” a ground blind is standard procedure.
But the average duck hunter would bust a gut laughing at the average deer hunter’s attempts to “brush in” a ground blind.
A few cut branches leaned against a blind do very little, especially over the long haul. To make a blind really disappear, you need to first weave it into the natural setting. I actually sawed away little pockets just inside the timber for two of my best blind sets. Trees surround the blinds, breaking up their outlines and providing depth to the overall illusion. I then use heavy-duty zip-ties to attach brush to the roof and walls of the blind. The guys in the Whitetail Properties video above recommend the Primos Brush Lock, which I haven’t used personally, but it would appear to be a good product.
Be sure to cut your brush in a different area than the blind itself to avoid losing all your natural cover. And opt for green oak brush whenever possible, as it will hang onto its dead leaves for the duration of the season (other brush tends to drop leaves as soon as they dry).
Ground blinds aren't replacements for treestands, but they're so good now that you're nuts not to find ways to use them. They're comfortable, versatile, easy to set and best of all, they provide advantages treestands simply do not.
Get the latest deer hunting news, tips and tactics in your inbox!
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.