September 23, 2022
Question: I have been hunting deer out of pop-up ground blinds with little success. Can you provide some tips for effectively using a blind? B. Amber via e-mail
Answer: Traditional pop-up blinds can be a great option for hunting whitetails, but there are some challenges. I’ve committed my fair share of mistakes over the years that cost me dearly. But those hard lessons have helped improve my system.
One of the hardest things to acclimate to is the smaller field of view. Treestands allow you to see your entire surroundings with little movement. Ground blinds have windows that give you a limited view, but because deer don’t tolerate movement and noise at eye level, you must avoid the urge to peek out closed windows, especially behind you, because this allows light to enter the blind, which can expose you to any deer watching the blind.
A relatively new ground blind technology allows you to see through the blind walls, but game animals cannot see in. This see-through mesh is a game-changer because it gives you a much better view of your surroundings, even through any brush you’ve used to conceal the blind, and helps you spot approaching deer well in advance. I would suggest looking for this feature when purchasing a ground blind.
When choosing a location for your blind, avoid setting it up near a simple trail as deer can easily change course to avoid it. Instead, use some type of attraction such as a waterhole, bait (if legal in your state), or even a decoy or two to distract a buck. This puts the deer on the “X,” so you can set up with one shooting window open and the rest closed to block light. This will also help with scent control, especially when using an Ozonics unit. Be sure to identify locations that allow access without impacting a buck’s core area.
Brushing-in the blind is critical to success when hunting whitetail deer. The better you brush it in, the more relaxed deer will be. It is less of a problem if you can erect the blind a month or more before hunting, allowing deer to accept it, but even then, I advise extra concealment.
This is best done using available resources. If cedar trees are present, tuck the blind into the bushy tree and use the trimmed branches as cover for the exposed sides of the blind. For open terrain, find an area of tall grass or weeds to use for a backdrop and cover as much exposed blind material as possible to blend in naturally with the surroundings. Pay special attention to the corners of the blind. Animals will notice abrupt edges, so make sure the corners are covered to avoid detection.
Wind can be a problem, as some parts of a blind may flap. If I can’t tuck the fabric in to prevent wind-flap, I will use safety pins to fasten any loose areas that could spook approaching deer. It is imperative that you stake down the blind to avoid issues on windy days. I stake all four corners and use the supplied cord to tie each wall to adjacent tree branches or a ground stake. Failure to do so will almost guarantee Murphy’s Law will bring a gust of wind when your target buck is approaching the blind.
The final component to success is executing the shot. It will be difficult to see your pins in the dark blind, so if legal, you can use a sight light to illuminate your pins. Be certain your arrow will clear the blind fabric around the window. It’s imperative that you practice shooting from your blind, preferably toward dusk, to experience both factors.
Having made all these mistakes myself, I speak from experience. I hope my blunders can help you shorten your learning curve and lead to success!
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