The bowhunting community debates many topics, ranging from camo-pattern favorites, to crossbows vs. compound bows, compounds vs. traditional bows, and fixed-blade vs. mechanical broadheads. No matter the topic, we seldom declare clear winners.
The tug-of-wars on those topics might never end, so let’s try to settle another popular debate: treestands vs. ground blinds. Can we determine which is best?
Treestand: Treestands help bowhunters prevent detection by getting above their quarry. Tree foliage helps conceal them, and the stand’s height keeps human odors above the deer’s detection zone. The main advantage of treestands, however, is their height. Deer and most four-legged prey evolved alongside ground-based predators, so they usually don’t look upward unless they hear something or see sudden movements in their peripheral vision. That’s why the treestand’s height advantage remains after leaves fall in mid-autumn.
Ground Blind: Ground blinds are manmade cover. If a bowhunter enters a blind and closes every door and window, he would be invisible. But here’s the catch: Closing every window prevents you from seeing or shooting anything outside the blind. You must leave at least one window open. You must also conceal the blind itself. Even though most ground blinds are made with camouflage fabric, prey animals are leery of newly placed structures unless they’re concealed with brush and foliage from the area. This process is called “brushing in” the blind. However, blinds set up far in advance of the hunt allow prey animals to grow comfortable with their presence.
Treestand: Treestand types greatly affect a bowhunter’s mobility. Climbing and hang-on treestands offer great mobility while ladder stands are more limiting.
Ground Blind: Ground blinds fall into the middle regarding mobility, being on par with hang-on treestands used with climbing sticks. They’re easy to move when needed, but most bowhunters don’t want to set up and take down a blind for every hunt.
Treestand: Overhanging limbs and branches might require a bowhunter to trim shooting lanes around a treestand, but the treestand itself seldom limits shooting opportunities.
Ground Blind: Bowhunters must shoot from designated windows in ground blinds. Opening too many windows increases the likelihood of detection, but the fewer windows you open, the more limited your shot options.
Treestand: Treestands vary in price, but a basic hang-on stand, and climbing sticks to reach the stand, can be had for about $100.
Ground Blind: Some ground blinds cost less than $50. However, inexpensive options usually provide little room and low ceilings, which cause problems when hunting with vertical bows like compounds and recurves.
Treestand: Larger platforms, zero-gravity seats and memory foam have increased treestand comfort in recent years. That said, you’ll still be glad when the sun sets after a long day in a treestand and you descend to the ground.
Ground Blind: Ground blinds are the kings of real-estate for bowhunting. Blinds provide plenty of leg room and gear storage. Some blinds are even large enough to let you stand up inside. Blinds also protect you from bad weather.
Maybe this head-to-head matchup provided no clear winner for every bowhunter or every hunting situation. However, by applying the list’s pros and cons to your hunting style, you can better decide if a treestand or ground blind suits you.
To learn more about treestands and ground blinds, visit your local archery shop to get expert advice and see the latest models.