The hunting industry has innovated many products to give hunters that extra edge in the woods. Hunters, me included, are men and women of many gadgets. We throw in our packs gadgets to help us, gadgets to fix gadgets and gadgets to work with more gadgets! But an often over looked gadget is the ground blind.
A couple of years ago if you look in my garage you would find tree stands on top of tree stands, but only one ground blind. Threw the years I’ve been sitting in tree stands, forced to watch bucks run past me out of bow range, and every time I would think to myself, “if I only was sitting over there” but then consol myself by justifying that there is no good trees there for me to sit in any way.
Soon my wife took up the sport of bow hunting. As any guy would do for his wife, I placed her high in a pine tree and put her in one of my best spots. It didn’t take long for me to realize that she was not a fan of the climb up and down the tree. (Trust me, she made sure to tell me every step she climbed!) It didn’t take long and we started thinking outside of the box and set up a ground blind to hunt from. It didn’t take long for me to realize this is one gadget that I should have been using years ago.
Let’s just take a minute to touch on some of the benefits of hunting out of a ground blind. First it gives you the ambush advantage in spots that don’t have any good trees to take on an aerial assault. Ground blinds give concealment for those hunters that are afraid of heights, and are safer for the beginner hunters. It also protects you from the elements.
Some of my best hunts took place on rainy or very cold days. How many times have we left our stands because we were either cold or wet, or many times both? Growing up in Wisconsin I was introduced to the traditional north woods deer camp at an early age. There was a guy in our deer camp (Jerry) that would sit all day, and back then that was almost un-heard of. He preached that in order to sit all day you must be comfortable, the minute you get cold or wet your hunt is over. And “you can’t kill any deer sitting in the cabin.” He would always say. Jerry couldn’t have been more right. A ground blind is that gadget that can make your all day sit more comfortable.
Also ground blinds work great for disabled hunters or where mobility may be a challenge. If some one is bound to a wheel chair or has a hard time walking, ground blinds work great, often they can be place in spots ware they can be accessed by a UTV or a vehicle, and once you arrive at the blind getting in and out of them is fairly easy. If your have a hunter in a wheel chair, the blind can actually be picked up and placed over the hunter for easy concealment.
Last but not least, why I love hunting out of pop up ground blinds is that it allows us to hunt together as a family. Far too often I hear from hunters that have children that they can’t go hunting as much as they would like because they have to watch their kids. My reply is, take them with you. And anyone that knows me knows that I am big in spending time with family and getting the family involved into the outdoors. Taking your family hunting is difficult when hunting out of a tree stand, but very easy and fun with a ground blind. Ground blinds allow your children to play with coloring books and other toys while still being concealed. I feel that parents not spending time with their kids cause a lot of our youth’s problems. Ground blinds allow you to hunt and have a great time with your family.
So by now you’re thinking outside the box and realize the benefits of utilizing ground blinds more often. So if you haven’t utilized pop up ground blinds much in the past, your asking what ground blind should I get. Well I wish I could recommend one particular company’s blind for simplicity, but I can’t. The reason being is that I feel that ground blinds are like bows. I may love shooting one particular bow and swear by it but you may love shooting a different bow.
The reason being is that I recommend you get the ground blind that fits you and your style and type of hunting that you do. You may want one particular blind if you hunt in the western states chasing elk or antelope that require a long walk into your honey hole such as the Doghouse blind by Ameristep, or you may want a different type of blind if your using it to hunt deer, turkeys and anything in between such as the Enforcer by Yukon Tracks. Or do you just want a good blind to hunt deer such as the Matrix by Double Bull on your piece of heaven. The ground blind you get and will like depends on your style and type of hunting. So for simplicity, I will tell you what I like and why, also some pointers to look for if you’re looking to add a ground blind to your hunting arsenal.
The main types of blinds out on the market are the hub style blinds, spring frame blinds, and the umbrella spoke style blinds. There are others but these are the main types of blind frames. These three types are good frame styles for ground blinds so to help you decide what blind is best for you. I would recommend looking at what you would like your blind to offer you.
First I would look at the weight of a blind you would like. A good rule of thumb is if you plan on taking your blind farther from the truck you will want a blind that is 20 lbs or less. You may pick up a blind off the shelf at the sporting goods store and go “Well 22 lbs doesn’t feel that bad.” But trust me, when you’re walking with that on your back you will wish you would have bought a lighter blind. If you stay at 20 lbs or less you will often be fine with the weight of your blind.
Before you go out and buy the lightest blind you can find also consider room. I have hunted out of some pretty light blinds; however there was literally no room in it to even draw back my bow. Also if you plan on hunting with your family or a friend, you will want a bigger blind. I use a blind mad by Yukon Tracks. Why I like this blind is that it has a lot of headroom. I have a bad back and I need to occasionally stand up and stretch my back. I stand 6’ 2” so you can see that a small super light blind wouldn’t give me the headroom I need to stand up and stretch. You will also like to have some form of 360 degree viewing. You will want to make sure you have good windows and good viewing with minimal blind spots in your blind. What I don’t like on blinds are the zipper windows. Blind manufactures are starting to realize that zippers are very noisy and are making silent slid windows or magnetic closers for the windows. I also strongly recommend having shoot threw camo netting on your blind’s windows. By keeping the interior of your blind dark makes it very difficult for game to spot you moving in the blind or drawing back your bow.
You will also want a blind that has quick and easy set up. You don’t want to be spending all day or making a tremendous amount of noise fumbling around trying to figure how to set up or break down your blind. You will also want a blind that has brush pockets or some type of way to hold brush on your blind to help break up the outline and blend the blind into its surroundings.
Threw the years of hunting out of ground blinds, I’ve learned some things the hard way. (Resulting in seeing the south end of a north bound buck) The main thing that I have learned is to set your blind up several weeks before you plan on hunting out of it. It takes time for the deer to get used to the blind. Turkeys are a different than deer. You can set up your blind the same day and turkeys will walk right by it with out giving it a second thought. Deer are a different story. You have to set it up and let it sit for some time before the deer don’t pay any attention to it.
On that note the next lesson I learned is to set up the blind and leave it the way you plan on hunting out of it. Years ago I used to live in Bayfield County along the Lake Superior shore of Wisconsin. I had a blind set up and before I left to come back at a later date, I zipped up all the windows on the blind shut. My reasoning was that it was late December in the far northern part of the state and it was a safe bet that we were going to get a snow storm that would blow snow into the blind when I was gone.
I came back to that blind several weeks later. I zipped the windows down and was watching out of the shoot threw mesh. An hour later, three big does came walking by the blind. It didn’t take long for the lead doe to notice that something was definitely wrong. Soon she was head bobbing at the blind and stomping her hooves. She knew that the blind had changed since she last seen it. It was that the windows looked different to her. We have to remember that the woods are to a deer like our living room is to us. If you came home and your TV was moved to a different part of your living room, you would notice and soon be on high alert. The deer are the same way. They notice the slightest difference in their living room. Long story short leave the windows, set the same way you plan on hunting out of them.
Also when you open your windows on the blind, open one window and leave the opposite window on the other side of the blind closed. What this does is give you a black back ground so that you are not silhouetted while sitting in your blind. Another tip is that when you leave a blind exposed to the UV rays of the sun it will bleach the camo of your blind and tint it to a faded yellow color. What I do to prevent this is buy a large piece of burlap or camo netting. Once the blind is set up, droop the netting over the blind and tie it down so that the wind doesn’t blow the netting around. The netting can also be cut to hold brush and other vegetation to help “brush in your blind.” It also helps to break up the outline of the blind.
My last tip is to stake down your blind so that it doesn’t blow over in the wind; I go to a sporting goods store and buy extra tent stakes. I just get rid of the stakes that come with the blind because they often use small metal stakes that just don’t hold down the blind under windy conditions.
Ground blinds are not fool prove, but like many gadgets in the hunting world they give you that extra edge between watching a big buck cross in a poor tree stand spot and a filled tag. Hopefully I helped in this article to get you thinking outside the box and to add a little variety to your next hunt.
for more information and tips on ground blinds.