Getting the Best Hunt from Ground Blinds
Where once a set of scrap two-by-fours and some plywood or burlap canvas were the only options for a deer blind, hunters now have an immeasurable number of selections for on-the-ground concealment when pursuing deer this fall. From hub-style pop-ups, to more hard sided options, Runnings has the blinds that fit any sportsman’s style of hunting, be it run-and-gun or sit-and-wait. To finish off the perfect blind set up, whether for a weekend or an entire season, these tips will help hunters get the most out of their chosen ground blind and provide the least detection from deer in the field.
Break It Up
Just as tree stand hunters require a branchy backdrop to break up their silhouette on high, blind hunters are becoming savvier about how to make their setup look more natural. Whether it’s the setting or adding brush, branches, or other accessories to break up a blind’s outline, there are many ways to break up the boxy outline of a ground blind and make things appear more natural. First, if possible, find a place where the blind blends into the surrounding foliage and landscape features. Tucking a blind into a tree, bush or other cover helps make it disappear into the background a bit easier. Find a field edge, or an area along a travel corridor, and push the blind back into the surrounding shrubs and trees while still providing easy access to the entry door and a clean shot into the open area through the windows. The more branches, leaves and structure behind the blind, the more its profile is reduced.
Once in place, brush the blind in by using fallen branches, grasses and debris to further conceal the structure’s hard edges. Many models offer brush loops and other areas where branches and leaves can be added on top and to the sides to give the near edges of the blind further camouflage. Corn stalks and cattails are strong foliage and can also provide great vertical trim that will last an entire season and help further disguise a blind. Even for short-term stakeouts, some brushing-in should be undertaken, especially when a blind is set up new in an area, to prevent resident deer from noticing it right away. Consider using more long-lasting methods of concealment for those blinds that will not be moved, like planting small bushes and shrubs alongside a permanent blind, or piling up fallen branches around it season after season, to make the structure seem more natural.
Lock It Down
Many blinds offer tie-down straps to secure the hubs in place for a season. These connectors are often tied to branches, posts or even ground stakes with paracord, to secure the structure in even the harshest autumn wind. Make sure that the hubs on pop-up style blinds are extended as far out as possible, and the line connecting their outside straps to the branch or stake is taught and holds the hub out at its maximum point and doesn’t give much when the line is tugged on by hand to simulate the gusts to come.
Use metal or plastic stakes to secure the corner grommets of portable hub blinds into the ground to start the season. Remember that by December, when most archery and black powder deer seasons end, the ground will be frozen and stakes may be hard to remove. Consider buying a set of inexpensive plastic tent stakes that can be broken with a hammer in the cold of winter, to allow easy removal of the blind when the seasons end and prevent damage from mice and other critters seeking shelter under the fabric in the cold weather months. Then, in spring, just come back and pull up the remains of the broken stakes when the ground thaws.
The inside of most blinds is dark, even with a window open, so dress to match the blackness created within the structure. Wary deer can see camouflage against a black backdrop, so invest in an oversized black sweatshirt which can be donned over normal hunting gear to match the shadowy environment of the blind. Additionally, utilize the camouflage mesh screening that comes with many models of pop-up blinds to avoid creating the odd-looking black areas that uncovered blind windows create and to disguise the occasional movement. The mesh is shoot-through, even for arrows, meaning that a shot’s trajectory will not be influenced by the slight obstruction, and concealment is heightened without losing accuracy.
Trick It Out
Add hangers and hooks to store gear and clothes inside any blind. Simple S-hooks available from the Runnings hardware department will suffice, but many companies offer model-specific accessory hooks and bars to help organize the inside of the blind. A small shooting chair made of quiet parts will provide perfect positioning and a ground-mounting bow holder will allow for quick transition from resting and observing to being ready to shoot, without a lot of motion that may draw the attention of deer.
Some Visibility for Firearms Season
During the firearms season, it’s a good idea – and required in some parts of Runnings country – to put an orange flag or marker on an occupied ground blind to let other hunters know the structure is occupied; purchase some orange fabric or utilize a hunting vest which can be pinned or clipped to the top of a blind as a signal. Remember that blaze orange is virtually invisible to deer, and with a properly-disguised blind, a splash of this seasonal safety color won’t affect how the animals see the structure but will let other hunters know not to shoot in that direction. Simply take the marker off when exiting the blind.
Ground blinds represent an expanding and effective way to hunt deer. With the variety of options available at Runnings, and the many ways to further camouflage them, make them part of the natural landscape, and turn them into effective hunting structures, blinds are worth the investment this season. Stop in at your local Runnings and talk with the friendly staff in the sporting goods department to find the ground blind that works for you.