November 04, 2010
By Curt Wells
With this crop of ground blinds, hunting at eye level with game is quick, easy, and deadly.
By Curt Wells
It was one of the few times I can remember that a bear didn't know I was there.Only 15 yards apart, we were close enough to look into each other's eyes, but the big boar had no clue I was in his wheelhouse.
Well, I was in a house of sorts -- a pop-up ground blind.Bears see better than they're given credit for, but the 7' boar never even glanced at my Primos Double Bull blind as he sniffed for the scent of a hot sow.
I admit to a somewhat higher cardio rate than usual as I drew on that bear at eye level, but my shot was perfect and I had a 19½" boar in the bag, my first from a ground blind.
Pop-up ground blinds have become staple hunting tools in the past decade or so, and for one reason -- they work! They're especially effective on turkeys and pronghorns, but almost any game animal can be hunted from a thoughtfully positioned blind.
The portability and quick setup of these blinds makes them useful in many situations. When turkey hunting, you can strap one to your back and hunt on the fly, setting up in just seconds when a gobbler responds. No brushing-in is necessary.
When hunting pronghorns at a waterhole or fence crossing, you're wise to set up a few days in advance of your hunt to allow animals to get accustomed to the blind. However, if the weather is hot and dry, and you have the only waterhole around, you'll probably get animals within range the very day you place the blind. They will just come in cautiously.
For elk or whitetails, you'll have best success if you brush-in the blind to make it blend with the surroundings. Choose a spot that works to absorb the shape of the blind, like the base of a cedar tree. Cut nearby brush and tie it to the sides and roof of the blind to eliminate the hard outline of the blind. Horizontal lines are unnatural and draw the attention of animals.
Whitetails are especially sensitive to the presence of black shooting holes. First, keep the holes as small as possible, and close all unneeded openings to block out light. For ultimate concealment, place shoot-thru mesh across your shooting holes. The netting absorbs light and makes the holes, and your movement, invisible. You must shoot either a fixed-blade broadhead or an expandable that will not deploy when going through the mesh.
Don't place your blind too close to a hot trail or waterhole. Stay back so you're not trying to move and get a shot off at pointblank range. Silence is imperative. Clear forest litter before placing the blind, and equip your blind with a comfortable, quiet chair. When circumstances allow, I fold up my chair, set it aside, and shoot from my knees.
More than one animal's life has been saved by the bottom edge of a shooting hole in a blind. Since your line of sight is well above your arrow's flight path, always be aware of your arrow's position in relation to the edge of the window before releasing the string.
When choosing a blind, look for one that sets up quickly and quietly, has adjustable shooting windows, doesn't flap in the wind, and has a black interior. To enhance the value of the dark interior, wear black or dark camo clothing. Here are some pop-up blinds that will do the job for you.
Two new models, the Tom Taker and the Carbonator, feature Ameristep's NS3 MICRO-TECH fabric -- a fleece-like finish that's quieter than previous fabrics. It also diffuses light, eliminating shine and softening interior shadows. Ameristep's Vertical Window Technology gives you long, vertical shooting holes to allow for ultra-close or steeply angled shots.
The Tom Taker includes a noise-free window system, shoot-thru camouflage mesh, Realtree APG HD camo, stubble pockets, and a backpack for transporting. This blind, measuring 77" square and 70" tall, weighs 18.5 lbs.
At 74" hub-to-hub, the Carbonator is smaller but weighs 20 lbs. The interior has a scent-blocking carbon lamination. Both blinds are UV protected to reduce fading.
A relatively new blind manufacturer, Covert Hunting from KSH Outdoors builds the Command Post aluminum-hub-style blind featuring 12 zippered windows with shoot-thru mesh. A zip-open roof allows heat to escape, and a black interior keeps you hidden.
At 60" square and 67" tall, this blind weighs 18 lbs. The Command Post includes stakes and tie-downs as well as a backpack-style case.
Anyone who hunts in treeless areas, especially in hayfields, should check out GooseView's Bowhunter's HayBale blind. This blind looks exactly like the large, round hay bales found in alfalfa fields across the Great Plains and West. It measures 64" in all dimensions and weighs 25 lbs. The aluminum frame folds flat to 4" for relatively easy transport. The HayBale has 10 shooting windows, all of which have silent drop-down curtains and optional shoot-thru mesh. The StormWall polyester material, in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass, is tough and waterproof to keep you comfortable in foul weather.
The Quick Strike Series of ground blinds from Gorilla Gear incorporates a fiberglass frame design that cuts the weight in half from previous models. The Quick Strike Pro version, at 74" square and 62" tall, weighs only 10 lbs. It features a quiet Shadow Blocker-lined interior, 3-D leaf exterior, and seven shooting windows.
The Quick Strike model is the same size but does not have the Shadow Blocker lining, which reduces total weight to 6 lbs. The QS has three shooting windows. Both blinds set up easily and quickly.
This company has entered the ground blind market with its new Boiler Room ground blind. Measuring 76" x 76" x 69" hub-to-hub, this blind offers plenty of room for two hunters.
The windows have split coverings so you can adjust them to the exact size of opening you desire, and they're covered with replaceable shoot-thru mesh. The Boiler Room, dressed in Realtree AP camo, comes with eight stakes, four tie-down ropes, and a scent-safe blind bag.
PRIMOS DOUBLE BULL
The Dark Horse results from a metamorphosis between Double Bull's original T5 model and the popular Matrix. Half the blind incorporates the infinitely adjustable Silent Slide window system and slide-down camo netting to ensure 180-degree viewing and shoo
The other half, which is pitch-black inside for maximum concealment, has two viewing windows and four shooting holes.
This system gives maximum versatility to cover all situations. For super-wary game you can reduce the number of shooting holes to the minimum. For maximum visibility, you can adjust the blind for a panoramic view of your surroundings. The Dark Horse gives you broad options. The Dark Horse, dressed in Ground Swat camo, measures 78" x 78" x 67" hub-to-hub, and weighs 20 lbs.
The new Elite blinds from Yukon Tracks come in two distinct sizes. The Enforcer Elite is a large blind with an 80" center height, which allows even tall guys like me to stand straight up. Hub-to-hub this blind measures 90", making it the largest pop-up blind I've found. Still, it weighs only 17 lbs. The Dispatcher Elite has a lower profile at 67" and a smaller footprint at 75" hub-to-hub. This one weighs only 14 lbs.
Both have five hubs, and both are equipped with the OptiView Window Configuration, which gives you countless options for shaping shooting holes. Shoot-thru mesh and two built-in bow holders are included. Both blinds come in either Backland West or Backland Adrenaline camo patterns.