There’s no denying it—treestands definitely have their place in the whitetail hunter’s arsenal of gear. However, if you’re like me and begin to have height-related issues about the same time your feet leave Mother Earth, thank goodness there’s a solution. Enter the ground blind.
Are the pros and cons when it comes to comparing elevated stands versus ground-based commercial hides? As they’re fond of saying in Minnesota, “You betcha!” Let’s take just a minute and look at the attributes offered by a quality ground blind, factors you may or may not get from of hard-metal perch locked 20 feet up on the side of an oak.
You fidget? Have a 10-year-old deer hunter who fidgets? Or likes to read? Or better yet, lie down and take a nap? Just try that on an 18-inch-square platform in a tree. Ground blinds, most will agree, offer the ultimate in 360-degree concealment. Position them correctly, add some native vegetation to break up the boxy outline, and you’re all but invisible.
It’s been my experience that whitetails are extremely quick to notice anything new in their world, ground blinds included. That said, it’s often wise to locate your blind in advance of the season, brush it well, and allow the animals time to grow accustomed to the hide.
Climbing treestands are nice, but in order to relocate the platform, it’s still necessary to scale the tree, loose the straps, drop it, find a tree, climb that tree—you see where I’m headed here. With a ground blind, you fold it, carry it to the new location, pop it up, and you’re ready. True, a few cedar boughs or leafy oak branches should be added. Still, you’ve spent much less time getting into position as you would have with a climber or a fixed-position elevated stand. Score one for the ground blind.
It’s a toss-up here. Elevated blinds by nature of their location assist in the dispersion of human odor. That is, they keep those bad smells above that buck’s nose. Conversely, ground blinds, even those containing scent-eliminating fabrics or materials, relegate human odors to ground level, right where that deer lives. Is there a solution? Strict attention to personal scent control practices like showers, sprays, routine clothes washing, cover scents, and the like, will help balance out the discrepancies in this case.
Comfort and Visibility
I admire the archers who during the rut can sit eight to 12 hours straight in a treestand. As a man with an admittedly skinny butt, I can’t do that. And as a hardcore coffee drinker, let’s just say I have to “go” quite frequently. Ground blinds, with their all-round concealment, allow me room to occasionally stand and stretch, all the while staying unseen. As for using the restroom, it’s as easy as an empty coffee can or an open window. Nods go to the ground blind here.
In terms of visibility, ground blinds do take some getting used to. Once I got over the claustrophobic “I can’t see!” feeling from the interior, I actually began to enjoy peering out the slits, thermos bottle at my side, with a good book in my lap and my muzzleloader…now where did I put that .50 caliber?
This Fall’s Best Blinds
Here are just a few of the companies offering outstanding ground blinds, not only for the whitetail fanatic, but for the turkey hunter as well.
Ameristep – If you’re budget-minded like yours truly, then Ameristep’s G-Series ground blinds are exactly what you’re looking for. From one and two-man chair blinds weighing but 12 to 17 pounds, respectively, and costing from $80 to $125 to my personal favorite, the 16-pound hub-style G30 costing less than $100, Ameristep has everything and then some for the hunter seeking to stay attached to terra firma – ameristep.com
Cabela’s – The folks in Sidney offer several different versions of the traditional polyester-clad hub-style blind, with choices ranging from the $200 Intimidator to the less costly ($170) and less hefty (12 pounds versus 22 for the Intimidator) Lightning Set Hunting Blind. The Lightning Set, by the way, is available in Cabela’s own Seclusion camouflage pattern, a good choice regardless of where the blind’s sitting – cabelas.com
Primos/Double Bull – It should be no secret by now that the Primos boys bought the legendary Double Bull Blinds outfit some time back. However, there’s no need for distress nor concern. In fact, several new versions of the tried-and-true Double Bull are available, including the Dark Horse, Predator Den, and Vision, along with the already in use Matrix 360. These are top-of-the-line ground blinds, and come complete with top-of-the-line prices ranging from $130 (Predator Den) to $400 for the Matrix 360. But, you should only have to buy one. They’re that good – primos.com
Hunter’s Specialties – True, Hunter’s Specialties has made their name on turkey calls and scent elimination products. Still, don’t dismiss the Iowa-based outfit when it comes to ground blinds. The company’s interestingly-named 10-10 Hideout Ground Blind—sets up in 10 seconds, breaks down in 10 seconds—will set you back less than a C Note. While it does flex and wave in the wind due to its non-hub design, the 10-10 Hideout is nonetheless a good entry-level unit – hunterspec.com
API Outdoors – API Outdoors also is a runner in the ground blind game, thanks to their Terra XL Series Blind. At $250, the Terra is a mid-range in terms of price. However, it does offer some features not seen in the others such as silent, non-Velcro, magnetic window closures, and includes a folding chair. Not bad for the financial equivalent of two tanks of unleaded – apioutdoors.com
Big Game – The company known as Big Game introduces their Escape Series ground blind, a hub-style hide that includes an interior scent elimination coating. What makes this one different? Brush holders or stubble straps on the exterior, which make attaching natural vegetation quick and easy. The model also incorporates permanent inside gear pockets into the design. Now you’re only searching for items some of the time instead of all – sportsmansguide.com