Ground Blind Basics
You don’t have to climb a tree to ambush a deer. Many big bucks are taken each fall by hunters who prefer to keep their feet on solid earth. Savvy woodsmen shoot monster whitetails (not to mention elk and mule deer) using drives, spot-and-stalk and stillhunting tactics, and a super deadly piece of equipment, the increasingly popular pop-open ground blind.
Blinds keep rain off your head, wind out of your ears and body heat against your skin; there’s no better mix of comfort and concealment. You still have to intimately know the woods and the deer your hunting, and be able to position your blind accordingly, but it doesn’t matter if you hunt with a bow, a rifle, shotgun or crossbow, portable ground blinds are perfectly deadly in the deer woods.
If you’ve never used one before, here are some things to consider.
Nearly every blind available comes with removable mesh screens used to cover shooting ports or windows. The mesh helps conceal you while leaving the windows open, allowing unobstructed vision. In most cases, you can shoot a cut-on-contact broadhead through the mesh without affecting arrow flight at moderate ranges. Don’t try this with a rifle or shotgun lest your slug fly untrue. Leave just enough of the mesh open to the outside so the muzzle of your rifle can clear the blind.
Leaving a port or window open without the mesh covering creates a “black hole,” a flashing red light in the deer woods. Deer at close range will notice this “hole” as something unusual and remain alert to it. If you’re hunting with a firearm, keep any openings in shooting ports to a minimum—again, just enough to allow the fore-end and front of the riflescope to clear for an unobstructed shot.
Another reason to keep as many windows covered with mesh or completely closed is that the darker the blind is inside, the better concealed you are. Light penetrates through the blind when too many windows are open, even on a cloudy day. Wave your elbow through the beam of light and a wily buck will spot it instantly. Wear dark clothing on your upper body and keep away from shooting ports or windows until you intend to shoot.
The closer you are to deer, the more likely they are to notice your blind. Cut branches, shrubs, grass or tree limbs and positioning them on or around your blind to create the illusion of depth and texture. Even if your blind is set up 100 yards away from where you expect to shoot a deer, some amount of “brushing” may be warranted and beneficial. Placing a sapling in front of your open shooting port may help negate the “black hole” effect noted above. Brushing may also allow you to use the blind in an area where it otherwise would stick out like a sore thumb. A dark-camouflage blind in the middle of a field of yellow grass looks out of place to deer. Cover the sides and top of the blind with the same yellow grass, however, and you can make it blend in perfectly.
Inside the blind, keep noise to a minimum. Arrange your gear so that it’s easy to get to, and try to touch the blind’s sidewalls as little as possible. You don’t want to make the blind move or create external blind noise. Clear debris and leaves from the ground within the blind. Always tie off or stake you blind to the ground if you expect any kind of weather.
These tips will help you effectively set up a pop-up blind this fall.
Lee J. Hoots is editor of Successful Huntermagazine. More of his work appears at www.successfulhunter.com.