You found a great spot to bowhunt. It’s littered with deer tracks, and young trees the width of baseball bats are gouged with rubs. However, no tree in sight can support a treestand. Now what?
Ground blinds solve such problems. These portable hideouts are built with waterproof polyester, just like a tent, and their pop-out hub systems help you quickly pop them into place. Once set up, their dark interiors hide bowhunters from their quarry. They’re also spacious, and many models conceal two people while allowing room to draw a bow.
Bowhunters like ground blinds because, when used properly, there’s no better way to get close to game. Blinds help archers get away with movement, and shield them from wind, rain and snow. Being able to bowhunt through harsh weather increases time afield, which means more opportunities to fill tags. Blinds are also great for introducing people to bowhunting because they let mentors coach newcomers through every encounter.
To get started, place your blind within easy bow range of field corners, waterholes, intersecting trails or other areas game often visit or move through. Because blinds conceal movements, you can set up closer than you would with a treestand. You can even disappear into a standing cornfield by cutting a couple of stalks. Don’t be surprised if deer feed within a few feet of you. If you tried that without a blind, you would spook prospective targets before they even entered the field!
Unlike a treestand, however, a ground blind will draw a deer’s immediate attention. They’ll even avoid it for a few days after it’s placed. But don’t be deterred. Brush in your blind by cutting limbs, brush and tall grass, and zip-tie them to its exterior. Natural camouflage keeps foreign objects discreet. Within a week or so, deer accept it as part of their habitat.
To take full advantage of a ground blind, bowhunters must blend into the blind as well as it blends into its surroundings. A blind’s interior is dark, so leave your camouflage clothing at home, and wear a black jacket, hat, gloves and facemask instead. Fleece clothing is the quietest material available, and lets you come to full draw silently to avoid alerting deer.
Hunting equipment is just as important as your clothing inside a blind. Laying your bow across your lap gets uncomfortable quickly. Instead, put your bow on a hanger descending from the ceiling, or a bow stand to keep it within arm’s reach.
What about the bow itself? You’re less likely to scrape the blind’s ceiling while drawing a short-length bow. Also, choose a sight with bright fiber-optic pins that are easy to see in the blind’s dark interior. Consider a lighted sight or a glow-in-the-dark sight housing to squeeze every second of legal shooting light. However, check your state’s regulations to ensure it’s legal where you hunt.
After your hunt ends, you must have a good exit strategy if you want to hunt the same site again soon. Deer feed heavily at dusk and early evening, and most blinds overlook food sources. That means you should clear deer from the area before leaving so they don’t associate humans with the site. Have a friend drive a truck or ATV to your blind to pick you up. Deer will flee the area as the vehicle approaches, and won’t associate the blind with bowhunting pressure. If you’re alone, use a cheap coyote call and make your best yips and howls when you finish hunting. As the deer flee the “intruding predator,” sneak out the back door.
Few things compare to the adrenaline rush bowhunters get when a buck walks within 20 yards at eye level, and ground blinds make those encounters more likely than any other hunting method. By pinpointing a blind in the right spot, and matching it with the proper equipment, you’ll boost your odds of filling your tag at close range this season.