7 Steps to Tagging a Giant Buck from a Ground Blind

Everything You Need to Know About Deer Hunting from a Ground Blind

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Choose the Right Ground Blind

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1 | Choose the Right Ground Blind

There are several requirements in a good ground blind. First, make sure it has a quality camo pattern on it. (Realtree keeps you covered.) Next, choose one that doesn’t have a sheen or really shiny material. It shouldn’t stand out like a beacon when light hits it. Avoid those that do. Here are some great options:

Ameristep Outhouse Ground Blind: If you’d like to experiment with ground blind hunting before buying a more expensive model, this is a great choice. Offered from several vendors for less than $50, it costs little more than a pack of broadheads and will give you the chance to hunt “on the level.”  It’s transportability, easy setup a small footprint make it a solid option. This blind is offered in Realtree camo.

Ameristep Silencer Blind: At 62 inches wide and 66 inches tall, this roomy blind offers many hunting amenities such as a silent slide window system so that you can adjust window openings without noise. The modest list price of $149 means you can set up a permanent hide and return time after time. Mesh shooting ports allow for concealment and airflow.

Field & Stream Ultimate Ground Blind: I’ve hunted with this blind. The large five-hub design is big enough for three hunters and easy to setup and breakdown. With a height of 73 inches, it’s roomy and functional for the tallest of archers. It’s sturdy enough to last from early to late season and exterior brush-in strips make superficial concealment quick and easy. The exterior is weather-resistant and features Realtree camo. With the black-out interior and complete scent control, you will be disguised perfectly. Easily pack this blind into your spot with a handy carrying case.

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Location, Location, Location

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2 | Location, Location, Location

This old real estate slogan is doubly true for bagging a great buck.  Just as you wouldn’t put a treestand in any-ole tree, where you place your ground blind is critically important and the strategies apply equally to elevated stands and ground zero.

Bottle-necks, pinch-points and transition zones are ideal for ground blind hunting because deer are forced into tight spaces. In early season, post your blind near food sources such as beans, corn or alfalfa. By late summer, deer have made distinctive entry and exit trails and posting 20 to 30 yards inside the tree line along a corridor can be magical. Once crops are harvested and deer move to feeding on soft and hard mast, select a new location with maximum deer travel.

Once you have promising areas selected, pinpoint the location by wind direction and sun angle. Post blinds in multiple spots, just as you would treestands and only hunt a blind with a supportive wind. Ground blinds offer more scent protection than treestands, yet hunting with the wind at your back is unwise. If possible, deploy the blind facing North or South so that neither rising nor setting sun will shine directly into your shooting window.

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Brush Up for Concealment

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3 | Brush Up for Concealment

Wild turkeys are plain stupid about blinds, a whitetail will pick up the change in its environment on the first pass. Think about the best way to approach your spot without spooking deer. Once done, trim that trail and use the brush to disguise the blind.

The rounded dome and smooth vertical edges of a blind look unnatural to deer and you need to brush its silhouette. If you cut limbs in August, the leaves will remain on the branches for extra concealment. Evergreen boughs match early season color and help camouflage dying vegetation. Be sure to wear gloves and rubber boots while you are working on your blind.

Many commercial hides have brush ties on their exterior, which makes attaching branches more permanent and easier to do.

Pop up the blind outside several days before deployment to dissipate scent.  Likewise, as you erect the structure, avoid as much human scent contamination as possible. Deploy the blind at least two weeks before hunting, perhaps a month if you’ll hunt on opening day. Eventually, even the wiliest deer will ignore the structure.

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Prepare for Patience

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4 | Prepare for Patience

You will quickly learn the joys of blind hunting as you sit out of the wind, rain, and cold and can move almost at will.  You don’t have to worry about dropping your release and there is no safety harness to wrestle. You can sit in a comfortable chair and lay out your calls, favorite snacks, and beverage. A thermos of hot chocolate is a tremendous asset on a frosty morning, to the point it almost seems like cheating.

Folding camp chairs are often used by blind hunters yet can be counterproductive. Comfort gets an A-plus yet as you sit up to shoot, these chairs often creak or require excessive movement. Personally, I prefer a “task” chair with a straight back. Some specialty blind chairs swivel and are worth the money at the moment of truth. Once you are settled inside your blind, go through the full range of shooting motions just as you would from a treestand. Make sure that everything moves silently and slowly.

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Limit the Light

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5 | Limit the Light

It’s possible to hunt 360 degrees from a ground blind, but that’s often a bad choice. You must have windows open the full circumference of the blind which allows for easy detection. Like standing in a window, deer will see you and you’ll have to constantly rotate to watch all sides.

You have a much greater chance of success by backing the blind into a deadfall, overturned root ball, or cluster of tree trunks. Since deer can’t walk behind you, there is no reason to watch that direction. Focus on one or two main shooting windows that will cover your effective shooting distance with small peek holes to the left and right, so you are not surprised.

Darkness is your friend. You want brightness outside and darkness inside to conceal your movement. Resist the urge to peek outside windows and cover your face and hands. Match your camouflage to the inside of the blind to help concealment early and late when deer can see inside of it easier.

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Plan the Shot

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6 | Plan the Shot

An arrow from a ground blind flies parallel to the ground. That means you will get the same angle as when practicing on a 3D target. A buck may still duck at launch, yet you have the full broadside heart/lung area as a target and are less likely to miss (unlike with elevated stands).

Additionally, you can spice up the spots where you want a deer to pause. Placing a small amount of deer lure in one or more locations will often cause a deer to stop and sniff the ground. This both distracts their attention from your location and provides a standing shot.

Mineral licks are legal in most states and can both attract and pause deer for an optimal shot angle. The Esker brothers, mentioned earlier, use minerals extensively and have developed their own formula with excellent success.

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Moment of Truth

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7 | Moment of Truth

The benefits of hunting from an enclosed structure can seduce your hunting savvy. It’s easy to rest the bow on your lap and text your friends or check a favorite website. If you’ve been hunting on successive days, the dark environment can entice drowsy eyes and frequent napping.

When you first set up your blind for scent dissipation, practice shooting from it.   With a compound or crossbow, the flight of the arrow is well below the line of sight, so always double check that your shooting position is high enough for window clearance. You don’t want to clip the edge of the blind. That seems to be a frequent occurrence for a lot of ground blind hunters.

Commit reference objects to memory or write them down, where they can be seen. Spotting a big buck from a treestand is exciting, yet when big daddy looks you in the eye, expect to feel your heart stop.

Communicating with fellow hunters is a great way to keep sharp but do so at the end of each hour. In this way, you can gauge deer movement in your larger area without the temptation of continuous contact. It also helps to pass the time and acts as a reward for being still and engaged.

By following these steps, you’ll find that blind hunting will open up a new world of adventure. Hunting on the level creates a natural high that isn’t tree-dependent.

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Identical twins, Steve and Scott Esker, have taken seven giant Ohio bucks over 200 inches in the past 10 years, mostly from ground blinds. Their success is proof positive that ground-zero tactics can land the buck of your lifetime. And ground blind success has never been easier.

Hunting from a well-crafted ground blind can be pure joy.  You’ll hunt longer, welcome inclement weather and relish the heart-pounding excitement of seeing that buck eye-to-eye. Follow these seven steps and you’re bound to succeed.