By Josh Boyd
Every fall, hunters from every walk of life take to the woods in a bid to make memories and stock their freezers with fresh venison. While spot and stalk deer hunting remains popular in some regions, the bulk of these hunters will either hunt from a ground blind or treestand.
While treestands have been a mainstay of deer hunting for quite a few decades, ground blinds have seen an enormous surge in popularity over the past few years. Now, on an ever more frequent basis, hunters are left to ponder which of these two styles of hunting offers the greatest number of advantages.
When attempting to decide whether to hunt from a ground blind or treestand, there are several factors worthy of consideration. The following is a rundown of the good, the bad, and the ugly of each of these two styles of hunting.
Hunting From A Treestand
For decades, hunters have perched themselves high above the deer they hunt, while hoping for fate to smile upon their efforts. While there are an infinite number of bragging board photos that confirm the effectiveness of hunting from a stand, there are both pros and cons pertaining to this method of hunting.
Hunting from a treestand offers several advantages, with one of the most significant being concealment. When perched 15-20 feet above the ground, it is far easier to get away with subtle movement than when at ground level. Luckily, deer seem relatively unconcerned with checking out that which happens well above their eye level, unless of course they are given a reason to be.
Another advantage of hunting from a treestand is that foreign odors are given a chance to disperse above the height of deer that are situated directly below. While this in no way eliminates human odor or ensures that you will go undetected, one can always use any help they can get when attempting to hide from the ever-vigilant nose of a whitetail.
When situated in a treestand, hunters are also afforded a better view of the surrounding area when hunting open ground. This often allows one to ready themselves for an impending shot opportunity, when doing so would otherwise be difficult without extended visibility.
Hanging a treestand requires a certain amount of work, which can sometimes be quite cumbersome. Your treestand and ladder must both be hoisted into place, and all tie-offs and straps need to be secured. The same also rings true when a stand is to be relocated. Effort and time must be expended to pull, move, and rehang a stand, when deemed necessary.
The availability of a suitable tree also serves as a limiting factor when hanging a treestand in place. If you locate excellent deer sign within a given area, but no suitable tree for stand placement can be located nearby, one is often left scratching their head.
One unfortunate reality of hunting from a treestand is that falls can and do happen. Every year an untold number of treestand accidents do occur, many with life-changing consequences. However, today we have better equipment than ever at our disposal to protect against such tragedies.
Safety harnesses and lifeline systems now allow a hunter to remain tethered to their tree, from the time they leave the ground, until they return safely once more.
Hunting From A Ground Blind
As ground blind use grows increasingly popular with every passing year, some hunters have ditched their treestands entirely, instead opting to take advantage of this alternative means of concealment. As telling as this fact is, there are still several factors that anyone who is considering making the switch to ground blind use should be aware of.
One significant advantage of ground blind use is that issues relating to placement are virtually non-existent. As long as a blind’s hold down stakes can be driven into the soil below, a ground blind can be used without a problem. This allows a hunter to base their efforts closely around fresh sign and areas of interest, as opposed to where the most suitable tree might lie. Likewise, a blind can be moved from one location to the next with similar ease.
When using a ground blind, a hunter’s movements are also concealed to a certain extent, as a blind’s enclosed design casts a shadow on the hunter who waits inside. Additionally, many blinds now feature camo window netting, that when in place, make it increasingly difficult for deer to see inside.
Since hunting from a ground blind is conducted at ground level, no risk of fall is presented. This comes as quite a substantial bonus in the area of safety, and makes hunting from a ground blind the natural choice when taking young or elderly hunters along on your outings. Additionally, expenditure on necessary safety items for hunting from an elevated platform, such as harnesses and lifeline systems, are thereby eliminated.
Hiding human odor at ground level can be inherently difficult. While the enclosed nature of a blind can be a help with this matter in some regards, odor still tends to waft from openings in this enclosure, such as windows. A hunter’s best defense in this scenario is to practice a thorough scent control regimen and play the wind.
Another downside of hunting from a non-elevated location is that visibility is limited at times. When hunting in thick underbrush, or wooded areas, it can be difficult to spot incoming deer until they are nearly in range. This often provides a limited window of opportunity in which a hunter can ready themselves for a potential shot.
Blinds are not nearly as hearty as the metal construction of a treestand. High winds, hungry rodents, and other inquisitive animals have all been known to be mortal enemies of a ground blind, and are capable of doing costly damage. If you hunt from a ground blind regularly, you will undoubtedly run into such a scenario from time to time.
Choosing The Best Fit
When determining whether to hunt from a ground blind or treestand, you must decide how each method of hunting fits into your overall strategy. It is impossible to say that one form of hunting is more effective or worthwhile than the other. However, it is quite possible to recognize the virtues of one method to be of greater benefit than the other, when employed on a given property, or in a particular scenario.