By Josh Boyd
During the last ten years, an ever-increasing number of deer hunters have left their perches high amongst the treetops, in favor of ground-level hideaways. The use of ground blinds has grown exponentially in popularity over the past decade, and it seems as if most any hunter you encounter today has at least one such blind at their disposal.
Behind this relative success is a level of versatility, which is seldom offered by any other means of hunting. The use of a ground blind allows a hunter to set up wherever they see fit, while also staying concealed to the highest degree. In essence, if you can drive a set of hold-down stakes into the ground at a particular location, it is a viable candidate for ground blind placement.
However, just because a ground blind can be placed wherever one desires, does not mean that a successful hunt will come as a result. In fact, the careful placement and concealment of a blind is every bit as important as that of thoughtful stand placement.
The following tips will assist you in wisely choosing when, where, and how to set up your ground blind in preparation for the deer season ahead.
Ground Level Does Not Always Mean Eye Level
As anyone who has ever deer hunted is well aware, cagey whitetails are quite adept at picking off untimely movements by hunters. This is one of the many reasons that treestand use has remained so popular. In general, the higher a hunter is off of the ground, the less chance there is of being spotted by the deer below. When hunting from a ground blind, this playing field is, quite literally, leveled.
However, just because you are hunting at ground level, does not mean that you must hunt at eye level. By taking advantage of the natural topography of an area, hunters can set up their ground blinds on elevated perches surrounding points of interest. While it might not be possible to place yourself a full twenty feet above the deer that move below, it is safe to say that most scenarios provide a means of elevating oneself 5-10 feet above that which is near.
The Early Bird Gets the…Deer
For those that have previously used a ground blind when turkey hunting, it might come as a shock to find out that deer can be somewhat skittish toward newly erected blinds. While it seems as if a turkey would not care if a blind magically appeared in the middle of a 20-acre field, this does not always ring true when speaking of whitetails.
When planning to deer hunt from a ground blind, it can be quite helpful to set up any blinds that are to be used as early as 3-4 weeks before season. While this might seem like overkill, doing so allows even the weariest of nanny does to grow accustomed to your blind, and form a disconnect between danger, and its presence.
Too Much Brush Is Not Enough
Sometimes, even blinds that have been erected well in advance of season can leave particular deer in the area on edge. More often than not, this seems to be the oldest, craftiest doe in a given woodlot. While setting a blind up in advance will typically keep a deer of this nature from fleeing at the sight of your blind, a level of caution can still be observed in their mannerisms.
To avoid this, take the time to carefully brush in your blind. This breaks up the blind’s overall profile and assists it in blending in with that which surrounds it. Foliage-covered limbs, sagebrush, and vines of various nature all make great material for brushing in a blind and can be interwoven to provide ample concealment. It is worth mentioning, however, that one should be mindful of their shooting lanes when placing such brush.
Clear What Lies Underfoot
Before season, it is advisable to clear any brush or foliage that remains within the inner confines of your blind. As a ground blind is set in place, twigs, leaves, and field grasses are left in their natural state, and lie inside of the void within. When left in place, these items naturally become tangled underfoot and have a way of doing so at the worst possible times.
By raking out the inside of your blind prior to season, you can minimize the risk of spooking game when inadvertently crushing leaves, twigs, and other organic matter. Doing so is like taking out insurance against the inevitable and has the potential to save you from costly missteps at a later date.
Getting Ahead of the Game
While a punched tag, or any other form of success while afield is never assured, you can take the proper steps now to ensure that the season to come goes off without a hitch. By taking these tips into account, you might soon find yourself forgoing the use of a treestand entirely, instead opting for a ground-level view of the wondrous show which nature provides.