More and more hunters enjoy the many advantages of hunting from a ground blind instead of a tree or open hunting.
The convenience, comfort, and improved chances of scoring a big kill mean that everyone is scrambling to get kitted out with hunting ground blinds.
However, a hunting ground blind will not do you any favors unless you learn to use it right. In fact, some hunters with poor knowledge of using these blinds end up shooting themselves in the foot – figuratively and literally. That’s because ground blinds of all types come with a unique set of rules that you must follow if you want to make that enviable kill.
Mule and whitetail deer have excellent instincts. Even with a blind, it still takes considerable skill to score a prize buck.
This guide will help you set up your ground hunting blind properly and hunt in it more effectively.
Setting Up A Ground Blind
A ground blind offers concealment when hunting deer. When correctly set up, it provides some measure of scent and noise control, allowing the deer to get close to allow you to take your shot in confidence.
However, since you can hardly follow the deer about as they move, you will want to make sure you set up properly.
Placement is imperative, or you will not see a single animal the whole time you are in the blind. The best places to set up are near food sources, watering areas, or deer trails where they can be found frequently.
However, deer are very sharp and will notice when anything is amiss in the environment. Therefore, you shouldn’t get too close to the place the deer will be, or they will see into your blind or catch a whiff of your scent. 20-30 yards out is ideal if you are using a compound bow, closer to traditional ones such as recurves.
Deer have 20/100 vision, which means they see the same level of detail at 20 yards as you would at 100. If you can see into your blind at 5 yards, you want to be farther than 20 yards out to stay concealed.
Other tips for placement of your ground blind
Position yourself downwind (wind in your face) of where you expect the deer to be, or at least crosswinds to conceal your scent.
Deer have a perfect nose, and even the blind itself might still have a leftover scent from its time in storage. That is why it is also advisable to air it out for at least two weeks before taking it hunting.
Avoid the skyline. Sometimes you might want a better vantage point up on a ridge, but if the sun is behind you or there is no cover, the blind will stick out.
Conceal the blind and brush it into the ground. No matter how well camouflaged the blind looks, it’s still a big unnatural thing in the environment, and deer will notice. Brush it properly with branches and brush—the goal is to eliminate sharp contrasts and clear outlines.
Set up your blind for up to two months before hunting in it, so that deer get used to its presence and consider it a non-threat.
The blind’s placement should still give you a clear line of sight to where the deer like to eat or drink so that you have time to prepare and make your shot.
Prepare the blind beforehand by waterproofing it.
Clear the ground where you place the blind of any leaves, twigs, and rocks, which could make movement noisy.
How To Camouflage In The Ground Blind
Once properly set up, hunting ground blinds can offer excellent camouflage in most environments.
However, you need to take additional steps to make sure the concealment is perfect, or the deer will still be able to pick you out.
The first thing you need to be able to do is to get in and out discreetly so that the deer will not associate you with the blind. Prepare a path into the blind that leads into the tree line, hidden by the brush, or one you can crawl up to the blind. Clear this path of any dry leaves, twigs, pebbles, and anything else that could make a noise and draw attention.
The next step is to make sure you are hidden by closing all but the most necessary windows. Usually, the two front corner windows are best for concealment. Leave all the others completely sealed and blacked out to prevent creating a backdrop from which any movement can be perceived.
Even with the two windows open, the black interior will still stand out. Instead, leave the see-through, shoot-through camouflage mesh in place for better concealment. The mesh still won’t protect you from creating a silhouette, especially if the back windows are open. That’s why it is important to close down all but the front windows.
More tips for how to camouflage in a ground blind
- Don’t wear anything else but black in the blind. If you wear hunting camouflage, the lighter colors will contrast with the black interior and make it easy to see you.
- Wear black gloves for your hands and black face paint or balaclava to conceal your skin.
- All shiny surfaces such as rifles, scopes, metal chairs, and especially rifle scopes should either be blacked out or left in a dark corner hidden by the shadows.
How To Act In A Ground Blind
Even with perfect camouflage, how you act in a ground blind matters a lot. It’s tough to beat a deer’s instincts, and even the wrong movement could still tip them off.
The first thing you need to do is stay clear of the openings and conceal yourself in the shadows. Even with black camo on, something as small as a watch, a tag on your clothes, or the glint of a chain could give you away. By staying hidden, you have more degree of movement. This might not be possible if your blind is small, especially if you are bow hunting, but you should try to stay as far back as you reasonably can.
It would be best if you also tried to avoid sudden movement. Deer are more attuned to movement than still objects and can pick up even the slightest change. Everything you do needs to be thought out and deliberate, even scratching your nose.
Before you get into the blind, make sure to have taken a shower and a supplement like Chlorophyll, which keeps flatulence at bay. Avoid onions and other smelly foods as well. When coming into your blind and setting it up, make sure not to cross any deer trails and feeding grounds. Go round wherever possible and stick to creek beds.
How To Shoot From Hunting Ground Blinds
After months of preparation and days of waiting, it feels good to finally get the chance to let loose an arrow.
However, even at this critical stage, your coveted whitetail prize can still jump the string or flee at the slightest warning.
Hunting veterans agree on one thing—the best way to improve your odds is to practice hunting out of the blind well before the actual thing. Take turns shooting your arrows, sitting or standing, and shooting through the camouflage mesh.
No matter how close the deer get to you, no blind won’t make up for poor hunting skills. You will need to brush up on your skills and perhaps get some better equipment. Bowhunters are at a particular disadvantage, but you can still get your coveted trophy buck with the right training.
- Practice shooting out through the mesh until it comes naturally to you. The mesh won’t affect the flight of the arrow for distances under 40 yards
- Choose your arrows wisely. Expandable broad heads will be affected by the mesh, so use sharp fixed-head arrows instead.
- When waiting, have a stout wire bent in an S-shape and covered in black rubber or electric wire to suspend your bow from.
- Make sure your bow doesn’t touch anything else when preparing and shooting.
- Clear your shooting lanes ahead of time. Remove branches and brush, but don’t clear the whole area or the deer will notice.
Expert Ground Blind Hunting Tactics And Tips
Ground blinds are a great tool to use, especially if you already have experience with other tactics such as tree hunting and open hunting.
They allow you to get very close, even within single-digit yardages.
When hunting mule deer or whitetails, there is a lot of stuff you simply can’t be taught and have to pick up in the field. But here are some expert tips that can help you out.
- Brushing in your blind is about removing the sharp outlines. Tie leaves and brush with a bit of rope along the edges so that they don’t flap around
- Use a high-quality blind that won’t flap about, screech, rattle, or shake with the wind.
- Take time to secure your blind to the ground. A strong gust can easily pick up a blind and deposit it far away.
- Whenever possible, choose the natural cover to blend in the blind to the environment.
- Bury the bottom of the blind to restrict airflow in and out. This helps immensely with scent control.
- Bring along some scent control measures such as an ozone machine.
- If allowed and you are alright with it, use attractants to bring in the animals even closer. This trick works very well for wizened up mule deer, which tend to be very unpredictable.
- Study topographical maps to predict deer routes and movements, which will help you set up your location.
When hunting deer, ground blinds can give you a huge advantage.
Otherwise, it is tough to close in within the archery range without giving yourself away either by movement, scent, or noise. Blinds allow you to control these three factors.
However, hunting ground blinds demand a certain level of expertise to use effectively. Otherwise, they are just as good at giving away your position.
Take the time to practice, learn from the experts, and next time you too will be sharing stories and pictures of your great kills.