New hunters, problematic landscape, and ease of use – these are just a few of the reasons to consider using a ground blind when bowhunting whitetails. Want to take your wife or kid hunting with you? A ground blind is a great way to let them tag along. Are you, or someone you hunt with, not able to physically climb or cope with the anxiety of hunting from 20’ up a tree? Then consider a ground blind. Have you found a spot with high deer activity but there are no suitable trees to hang a stand in? You guessed it…time for a ground blind!
Hunting from a ground blind can be very effective, but it is different than hunting from a treestand. Let’s look at some points that you should consider if you want to effectively hunt whitetail deer from inside a blind.
Ground blinds are an effective tool for getting close to and killing whitetails. However, certain aspects must be taken into consideration.
Selecting a Ground Blind for Bowhunting
First, let’s talk about the ground blind itself. There are dozens of brands, styles, sizes, and models of blinds on the market. All hunters should shop for a ground blind that is easy to use, provides a good value for their budget, and is durable; but the bowhunter needs to keep a close eye on a few additional specifications, including – floor space, height, and visibility.
Floor space is an important consideration, especially if you are planning on having more than one person in the blind. You’ll obviously be drawing your bow to shoot, so make sure you have plenty of room to get to full draw, and maneuver your bow around to aim. The downside of going with a larger ground blind is that you may find it more difficult to place it exactly where you want it – especially if you are hunting thicker terrain. The interior height of the ground blind is also an important consideration. Make sure you can sit high enough to effectively shoot out of the blind’s windows, but keep in mind that your bow’s top limb will extend upwards upon release. Ensure that you have plenty of clearance to shoot without any interference or bow contact.
If you are going to be doing a significant amount of bowhunting from ground blinds, then you might consider optimizing your bow setup for the unique conditions that hunting from a blind presents. As discussed, space is limited, so you might consider things like using a short stabilizer, or even a smaller axle-to-axle bow. Remember though, a compact bow setup is great for hunting from a ground blind, but be sure that you don’t sacrifice accuracy for maneuverability.
Lighting is also a variable that catches bowhunters off guard when they hunt from a blind for the first time. The fiber optics in a typical bow sight gathers ambient light and “funnels” it to the end of the pin; this is why your pins “glow”. However, because ambient light is reduced when you are in a ground blind, the sight’s pins are often not as bright as hunters are used to, or need them to be. You can supplement ambient light by using an electronic rheostat light to brighten your pins. These lights come standard on some bow sights, and can be added to others. It also helps to user a larger peep sight, which will allow you to have a wider and brighter field of view while aiming.
Finally, if you are new to shooting from a blind, you might find it necessary to lower the draw weight of your bow. There’s no room in the ground blind to “sky draw”, so you must ensure that you can easily draw your bow back while keeping it directly in front of you, at shooting level. And remember, hunting in colder weather and bulkier clothes may make drawing on a buck more difficult. Not only that, but your body is more efficient, and has more leverage for drawing a bow at a standing position – you may be surprised to find out how difficult it is to get through your bow’s draw cycle from a stationary, seated position.
If you want to hunt from a ground blind, then get used to shooting from a seated position.
Tips for Shooting from a Ground Blind
As we just discussed, getting to full draw from a seated position is quite different than drawing a bow while standing. Similarly, shooting from a seated position also presents some unique challenges. In the ideal scenario, you’ll be shooting at a perfectly broadside animal, from a position which will allow you to have perfect form. But we all know how often the “perfect scenario” presents itself in hunting.
When hunting form a treestand you might find yourself turning, bending, and twisting to make a shot. In the ground blind, you might find yourself crouching, rotating, or leaning – all of which can wreak havoc on your accuracy. Moreover, your range of motion is limited in a ground blind. In a treestand you can stand, turn, or reposition your footing in a variety of ways, but usually shooting from a stool in a ground blind means that all you can do is rotate slightly.
Groundblind hunting doesn’t mean you can leave the rangefinder at home. In fact, range estimation may prove harder within the confines of a ground blind as opposed to an open treestand.
All of that said, practice shooting from the exact same seat that you’ll be hunting with while in the blind! Practice from that seated position while leaning, rotating, or twisting to make the shot. If possible, set up your ground blind in your yard, or at the range, and practice shooting at a target through the windows at varying angles.
Another key adjustment that needs to be accounted for is distance estimation. There has been a lot of discussion about “on the ground” distance vs. shooting distance from an elevated position. Thankfully, since you are on the ground when hunting from a ground blind, you don’t have to account for those variations. However, keep in mind that the lower perspective and limited field of view from a ground blind can make it very difficult to judge distance. You might think it’ll be no problem to easily and accurately determine shooting distances, but it can be deceiving – so don’t leave that rangefinder at home!
Ground Blind Setups
There are several important factors to consider when trying to effectively place your blind in your hunting area. We aren’t going to cover scouting, or general hunting tactics, but let’s look at the unique location issues to consider when using ground blinds.
First things first – set up your ground blind early. Ideally, at least several weeks before you want to begin hunting in the area. Deer are very sensitive to changes in their environment. I have personally witnessed deer travel patterns temporarily change after setting a ground blind – even a well-concealed one. Don’t get me wrong, you may have curious deer come “sniff things out” at a fresh ground blind site, but these won’t be the mature deer that you are probably trying to kill. But, concealment still helps! Try to “brush in” your blind by obscuring its outline with local, native foliage, branches, or other natural elements.
Setting up your ground blind before hunting season starts and brushing it in with natural elements will break up the blind’s box-shaped outline and give deer time to grow accustomed to it.
An often over-looked tactic when setting a blind is to determine the direction that the sun will be shining from during the majority of your hunts; you want the deer out if front of you, and the light source behind you, which will help keep your location and movement in the shadows.
Finally, once you’ve selected where you are going to place your ground blind, be sure to clear the ground of all sticks, leaves, and other debris that may cause noise when you’re hunting.
Preparing Yourself to Hunt from a Blind
So your blind has been selected, carefully placed, and you have practiced shooting your bow from a seated position. Now it’s time to hunt!
In order to effectively camouflage yourself for ground blind hunting, wear black clothes and cover all areas of light skin. This will help you hide in the shadows.
Just because you’re in an enclosed environment, doesn’t mean that you should ignore the basic rules that you always follow when hunting from a treestand. You should deck yourself out in some camouflage, but this time you’ll want to go all black. A black top, some dark face paint or facemask, and even a black hat will help conceal you inside the blind. And, as always, be sure to practice scent control. It’s true that your scent can more readily “broadcast” as it falls from an elevated position, such as a treestand, but don’t think that your ground blind is a scent-proof bubble.
Last, but not least, be sure to setup inside the blind in a good position. The first thing you should do when you get settled in the blind is draw your bow, maneuver to aim through each of your shooting windows or lanes, and make sure that you have enough room to make whatever shot may present itself.
I hope these tips will help you come eye-to-eye with the whitetail you’re after. Happy hunting!