Ground Blinds Back in Vogue
Dr. John Woods 11.12.14
What goes around comes around, even with hunting equipment and hunting strategies. Before the advent of the ever popular tree stands that we see everywhere in the woods today, deer hunters used to hunt on the ground. Many of the old black and white photos of early deer hunters showed them sitting on tree stumps or on the ground with their backs to a big tree. That is how I started deer hunting back in 1971.
I am not sure exactly when commercial tree stands came on the scene, but hunters have been building tree houses, platforms, or even putting a wedged board in the fork of a tree to get into an elevated position for decades. Some hunters just climbed up high in a tree, sitting on a limb to achieve a bird’s eye view of the surroundings. I think that concept started with the Indians, but maybe cavemen did it, too. As the ad says, “We’ve come a long way baby.”
When deer hunters talked ground blinds 20+ years ago, they were creations fabricated at the hunting spot with available natural materials. Hunters pulled together a couple of logs or tree limbs then built up a camouflaged screen around it with evergreen cuttings and other vegetation. They could hover down in behind this cover and be fairly well undetected if the wind was right. Building such ground blinds fell pretty much out of favor when the factory-made tree stands came along.
Today however, there is a huge resurgence of the ground blind concept. Only now they are constructed of heavy duty synthetic fabrics sewn around collapsible tubing frames just like modern lightweight camping tents. They sport a variety of window configurations, footprint sizes, and heights. Some have special screen windows that can be shot right through with an arrow or bullet. Others are blacked out inside to hide hunter movements.
These blinds are made big enough to hold 2-3 hunters sitting in comfortable camp chairs. Pickle buckets are out of business. The blinds can be staked down to handle rough windy days. They are also waterproofed so rain has little impact on their usefulness and comfort factor. Some of these blinds are so well sealed that considerable human scent is contained inside the blind with just one window down to prevent a cross draft.
The exterior of these commercially made stands are full bore camouflage. Some of them I have seen tucked away in the corner of a field or woods can actually be hard to spot with the naked eye. The hope is that wildlife has an equally tough time picking out the structure sitting in their living rooms. It is not unusual for game to walk right up to a ground blind to look inside. Just be ready when this happens.
The blinds should be set up early enough in the season so as to “air out” the fabric and also allow deer to adjust to their presence. It probably would not hurt to douse the blind with a scent killing spray prior to hunter confinement. Hanging some felt strips some distance away coated in deer urine scents would be a good strategy, too.
Good places to set up modern ground blinds are in the corners of open fields or food plots nestled back in the bushes offering extra natural cover. Try to get as many clear points of view as possible. Some hunters like to mow strips of shooting lanes like spokes of a wheel then placing the ground blind at the juncture hub. Add a swivel chair and this gives a 360 degree view of the hunting lanes.
In the woods put a blind with a clear sight to well used funnels, say coming up and down a ditch bank or along the edge of a cypress slough. A corner next to two joining different types of habitat is a good prospect as well. Posting a blind near a well used food source is a good idea, too, something like a grove of acorn-dropping oak trees.
One additional consideration on ground blind placement is to put the stand where you can sneak in undetected rather than say having to walk all the way across the middle of a food plot to reach the stand. Have an exit strategy worked out, too. Always minimize scent contamination of any area where you hunt, especially in the coming and going.
Indeed the use of ground blinds have come full circle over the years. I like hunting from the ground as much as from a perch up in a tree, but the truth is I nap better in my camp chair than in a sling strap seat sixteen feet off the ground.