Ground Blind Hunting: Things That Can Save or Spoil Your Hunt

by Shawn O'Neal

I don’t like heights. So, I don’t like tree stands. That’s one reason I value the experience I gained while guiding for an outfitter in Utah. He put his mule deer bowhunters in pop-up Primos Double Bull ground blinds. This hunting strategy proved amazingly effective. Getting close shots from terra firma can be a game-changer. There are some important considerations, though, before taking your hunt to ground level. 

Practical Positioning

There are a couple of proven strategies for positioning and setting up a pop-up blind that can prove effective. The deer movement that your scouting reveals, as well as what land access you have available will help determine your course of action. If hunting active farmland, setting the blind plainly visible in a crop field can be very successful. This technique gives the bucks a chance to study the blind from a safe distance. Once they feel comfortable enough around that odd cube in the alfalfa, they’ll hop a low spot in the fence and start stuffing their bellies. Of course, you and your bow are already inside the blind, patient and ready. When scouting the fields, make note of where and how the deer move into the area. Then, arrange your setup to be within shooting range when they drop their heads to feed.  

Alternatively, staking out a common route between bedding and feeding sites can provide you with a stealthier option. In this case, you really want to make the blind blend in as much as possible. Set up near a promising trail, using natural features like low tree branches to hide the outline of the blind. Break up the profile even more by attaching plenty of leafy branches and brush to the structure with twine or zip-ties. Add more around the base being careful not to interfere with any shooting lanes. This “brush-in” process works well enough that I have walked right by blinds that I set up days before.  

Brush It In While Hunting

Having this foliage attached to the hunting blind has helped convince me how effective they can be. More than once I have watched from inside as deer approached the hideout to dine on some of the leafy greens used as camouflage. A hunter is practically invisible, especially behind shoot-though mesh. Take care to close any windows at your back to prevent being backlit. By wearing dark clothes and avoiding creating a silhouette in this way, most movement will go unseen. A hunter I know tested the system by waving his black-gloved hands in front of a staring deer, who was either unaware or unimpressed.  

All this close attention also demonstrated how good a blind can be at containing scent. By keeping any doors or overhead vents closed, air movement can be minimized. A hunter can further reduce tell-tale odors from alerting his quarry by “sealing” the bottom of the blind with loose soil. Taking these steps, in addition to wearing scent-containing clothing, can greatly reduce your odds of spooking game.  

Quiet Please

Just because movement might go unseen, doesn’t mean it will go undetected. Sound inside a ground blind can end a hunt in a second. Remember, the deer are often very close and the slightest unnatural sound will send them sprinting out of range. I once watched as a friend on her first hunt lightly scraped the blind’s fabric with the tip of a broadhead as she raised her bow. Deer scattered instantly. Be fully aware of your position and methodical in your movements. It’s critical to practice adjusting to different angles and lanes both before the season opens and after you get your blind set up for opening day.  

Whatever your approach, get your blind into position several days before you intend to hunt it. This will give that wide-racked buck a chance to warm up to it before your hunt starts. With some experience and attention to detail, hunting from the ground might become your favorite tactic.

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