Many hunters feel tree stands are the way to go, but in some instances ground blinds are better. Unlike tree stands, ground stands do not require sawing branches or attaching noisy chains or steps, so there’s less chance of alerting deer to your presence. A hunter with a physical limitation (i.e. a bad back or a bum knee) is safer and more comfortable in a ground hide. Ground blinds can be extremely elaborate or as simple as a little hide in fallen branches.
There are many commercial blinds on the market that work well for deer hunting. Most consist of poles and camouflage cloth, which you set up around a tree. Some have roofs and shooting slots. Archers use more open and roomy models. Some hunters make blinds out of camo netting, burlap or even chicken wire interlaced with weeds.
Deadfalls are a mixture of fallen trees and branches. If they’re in the right spot, hunters can hide behind them. If not, you can drag old logs and fallen limbs close to fresh scrapes or a trail and set up.
Both rifle and bow hunters use hay blinds extensively in agricultural areas. The theory is simple. Once a farmer cuts a hay or alfalfa field, deer get used to the rectangular or giant round bales left behind. A hunter hides behind hay bales in an open field, hoping to get a crack at a buck coming to feed or mingle with does. Standard hay bales can be moved and placed close to a trail where deer enter a field. Hunters simply hide behind huge round bales and take their chances.
Pit blinds can be used anywhere in whitetail country, but there are most popular on open, grassy plains. The theory behind a pit blind is much the same as a tree stand, but in the other direction. While a tree stand hunter gets above the deer’s line of sight, the pit man tries to get his outline below a buck’s sight plane.
A pit blind doesn’t have to be a huge, deep hole. Actually, most pit blinds are only about 2 feet deep and just wide enough for a hunter to get into. The hunter sits (and shoots) from a small seat in the pit. This simple pit blind effectively lowers a hunter’s profile from 6 feet to about 3 feet. For added concealment, pile brush around a pit and leave several shooting lanes.
One word of caution for hunters in poisonous snake country: Always check your pit before climbing in
Hunting Ground Blinds With Archery Equipment
Ground hunting with a bow and arrow is not attractive to most people because you’re on the same sight and scent plane with deer. Also, getting a 30-yard shot a buck from ground zero is tough. Still, some bowhunters use ground blinds when conditions allow it.
Probably the best reason to choose a ground blind rather than a tree stand is portability. Simply put, you can’t move a tree stand without making a lot of noise and commotion. Not so with a ground blind. Simply move quickly and quietly from one hide to the next if the winds or deer patterns change.
Unlike the rifle hunter who often chooses a blind that overlooks an open area, the bowhunter must set up for shorter shots and better concealment. When you locate a potential ambush site, check the prevailing morning and evening winds, and then search for a stand location on the downwind side. Look for thick brush or a dense stand of trees that will break your outline. Further conceal your position by placing additional limbs and brush in strategic places, but don’t go overboard. Make sure you can still see incoming deer, and most of all, be certain to have at least 4 clear shooting lanes.
One mistake that bowhunters make is choosing a stand too close to a spot where they expect a buck to show. An ambush stand 12 yards from a deer trail or scrape line is just too darn close-a deer will bust you when you try to draw. Try to set a stand downwind of a spot and 20 to 25 yards away. That’s close enough for a high-percentage shot, but far enough away so that a buck might not detect your presence or catch you drawing.
Hunting Ground Blinds With Firearms
Ground hunting, often called “posting”, results in most deer kills during gun season. There are a couple of reasons why. First and foremost, the long range and accuracy of a firearm, especially a centerfire rifle, allow a stationary hunter to spot and shoot deer up to 300 yards away. Also, deer pushed from one area to another by other gun hunters are much easier to spot when you’re on post, listening and watching for the slightest movement.
Unlike the bowhunter who must set up a concealed ambush for a close-range shot, the gun man sets up in the semi-open with a wide view of country. Sure, you’ll be a little exposed. But if you can spot and shoot a buck 200 yards away in a river bottom or on an open plain, what does it matter?
In the Midwest or West it’s not unusual to sit in a blind that overlooks hundreds of yards of open terrain. But in the Eastern or Southern hardwoods or swamps, a good stand location may allow only 50 to 100 yards of visibility.
Some ground stands have been used successfully by many generations of gun hunters. They carry euphoric names like Buck Stand, Sure Thing Stand, Hundred Percent Stand, etc. Find a year-to-year producer and use your imagination!
A good gun stand has a clear view of deer traveling far and wide in many different directions. The edge of a grain field is a good place for a post. So is a side hill where deer walk trails from feed to bed and back. Another prime location, especially for midday hunting, overlooks a trail in the middle of thick cover where bucks meander when seeking does.
Patience is the one ingredient necessary for successful stand hunting. Dress warm, bring a thermos of coffee and plan to spend all day if necessary until a buck shows up.
A gun hunter can cover a lot of country and see and shoot bucks before they see him. On post, you sit comfortably and safely and don’t expend too much energy. The archer must set up more of an ambush than the rifle hunter. Still, when conditions are right and deer change their movement patterns, a bowhunter in a concealed stand can score.
One downside is boredom. Many hunters lack the patience to sit in one place for hours, often without seeing a deer. Also, the hunter who sits tight all day misses a lot. He doesn’t continuously find fresh sign and learn to piece together the whitetail’s complex puzzle. By placing himself on the ground, the bowhunter runs the risk of being seen or smelled by deer.
Ground hunting is the safest of the 4 techniques. You’re stationary, so another hunter is not likely to mistake you for a deer. You don’t run the risk of falling from a tree stand.
Still, heed a few safety precautions:
- Don’t wear tan clothes and don’t use a white hanky to blow your nose, wipe your scope, etc. Another hunter may see a flicker of brown or white and mistake you for a deer. It should never happen but it does!
- Try to get into your stand early in the morning, before other hunters hit the woods. At the end of the day whistle when hiking out of the woods. You shouldn’t be mistaken for game.
- To avoid falls in the dark, use a small flashlight to guide your path over and around obstru