Ground Blind Hunting: Getting Face to Face with Whitetailson Jul 9, 2012
Fred Bear’s Way
Modern bowhunters sometimes forget archers of old had no tree-stands or pop-up blinds available. They made their own blinds of natural materials. This has become standard operating procedure for turkeys in my “backyard” – building blinds on regularly-used strutting grounds and meadows across the 5,000 acres available to me. My best are “caves” of shadow created by brush and logs, the deep shadow acting as better camouflage than piled brush. These blinds are also great during warm early seasons when a stuffy pop-up becomes oppressively hot, and cost me nothing but a little time.
Fred Bear understood that the natural ground blind has
helped bowhunters through millennia earn close shots at game.
Natural blinds require abundant natural material; big logs to use in “Lincoln Log” fashion, long saplings or rails to wire or tie between three or four evenly-spaced trees to create a basic frame to drape other material over, or a clump of thronged brush or young trees allowing you to borrow in and clear out a spot to sit unseen. No matter the approach you’ll need to create an open space big enough to shoot from while sitting or kneeling, a “roof” to seal out daylight, and shooting ports facing likely shooting areas. Ideally the natural blind is backed by a stream or nasty briars where deer will not travel, with wind blowing into your face.
Kansas traditional bowhunter Keith Jabben shuns tree-stands, preferring to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground
while deer hunting.
I find materials such as pine or cedar boughs and bark “shingles” especially useful for roofs and sides, scattering armloads of pine straw or leaves over the works after creating an effective framework. The effective burrow blind’s a simple matter of finding tight clusters of vegetation – blueberry juniper (cedar), ground-hugging firs, tangled honeysuckle or cane, depending on region, hacking away only enough interior material to create a comfortable nest, leaving what’s needed for cover. Facing natural blinds with items such as Rancho Safari’s Shaggie Shield tent-pole-framed camo netting makes natural blinds easier -- and deadly effective. Too, don’t hesitate to dig a pit blind into the floor, at minimum to hold your feet while sitting to create more headroom. A pit also helps contain scent.
There’s a reason tree-stands are popular, but there’s no arguing ground blinds still get the job done -- used in places where elevated stands simply aren’t possible or by those who have a fear of heights. Ground blinds open more options according to terrain; or for whitetails that have become so used to overhead threats they walk around scanning the treetops.