When it comes to game hunting, nine out of ten times, you’ll find the experienced hunters up in the trees, hugging bark and waiting for a clear shot of the approaching game.
But that doesn’t mean that tree stands are always a better option, or that hunting from the ground blinds doesn’t have its advantages – because it most certainly does.
I’ve done my fair share of big-game hunting from down below, enough to know that, in the right conditions, these portable, pop-up wonders can work like magic.
But it won’t be nearly as easy as climbing up on a tree stand to gain an instant vantage point:
You’ll have to do some homework, and think a few steps in advance if you want to do this whole ground-blind hunting right.
Luckily, you won’t have to figure it all out on your own – you have me in your corner. Today, I’ll share my proven ground blind hunting tips you should try this season!
- 5 Tried-And-True Ground Blind Hunting Tips
- Bonus: 3 common hunting mistakes to avoid
- One Final Piece Of Advice
5 Tried-And-True Ground Blind Hunting Tips
#1: Do Some Pre-Season Scouting
Knowing how to pick the best spot for setting up your blind is arguably the most significant factor in ground blind hunting success.
Mature deer are smart enough to know better than to travel out in the open – game trails that hide in the woods are where you’ll track down those trophy antlers.
Here’s how I look at it:
The most critical hours you’ll spend hunting will be those spent figuring out where the deer are – and what their activities look like day-to-day. That’s how you get them.
So don’t be lazy and do some pre-season scouting – pin-point the frequently used game trails, figure out where their bedding, and feeding areas are. Then, pick a spot for your blind accordingly.
If you don’t have enough time to visit the trails yourself, you can rely on a few trail cameras to do the hard work for you.
Either way, don’t make the mistake of becoming predictable. You should be the one who patterns the deer – not the other way around. Even if a specific location worked for you before, don’t rely on past experiences and observations, and assume that it will work this season, too.
Conditions change, and staying up-to-date with the weather, seasonal changes, crop rotations, and the presence of predators, among other factors, is your best bet here.
#2: Set Up Your Blind Well In Advance
Here’s the thing:
Most deer and whitetails, in particular, having a relatively limited home range. The chances are that they’ll sleep and feed in the same areas, taking the same paths between the two spots every day.
Naturally, they’ll become familiar with their surroundings – much like you’re familiar with the layout of your living room, for example.
If someone were to bring a new couch and place it in the middle of your living room, you’d notice straight away, now, wouldn’t you?
And the same thing will happen when you set up a pop-up blind on the deer’s home turf. Being the creatures of habit, they’ll see that something’s different – and the chances are that they’ll run away, never to be seen again.
So, how do you prevent that from happening?
I strongly recommend that you put up your ground blind out in the woods a week – or more – in advance. That way, the deer will have some time to adjust to this new structure and become comfortable with it being there.
All that’s left then is making sure that you sneak in unnoticed!
#3: The Deer Should Either Be Able To See It – Or Not
Okay, I know that this one doesn’t make much sense at first glance, but it’s something I’ve picked up from seasoned hunters, and it didn’t fail me once over the years.
The basic rule is you should never let the deer be surprised by your blind.
It means that the deer should either be able to see it from afar – or not be able to see it at all. There’s no middle ground here, so pick a strategy, and act accordingly.
If you go with the first option and are placing your blind in a reasonably open spot, you have to make sure that it’s visible to deer from at least 100 yards away. They’ll be more comfortable with approaching it if it’s out in the open like that. On that note, the hay bale blinds are particularly useful in this scenario.
That being said, if they come around the corner, and your blind is sitting there at less than 50 yards, I can pretty much guarantee you that they’ll be out of there before you even get a chance to react.
Your second option is making sure that your blind is completely “brushed-in” so that it disappears into the surrounding vegetation, and isn’t visible at all.
Keep on reading, and I’ll show you how to achieve that!
#4: Become a camouflage pro
Don’t settle for a pop-up deer blind that’s set up in between a couple of trees. I mean, sure, it could work if you’re there hunting for turkeys – they wouldn’t be bothered even if you set it up in the middle of the field – but deer are different:
You’re going to have to up your camouflage game if you want to trick them into moving comfortably through the area.
Start with the basics and get rid of the smell.
Some blinds will feature carbon odor-suppressors, but they might have some residual manufacturing smell, which is why it’s always recommended that you leave it out in the open to air out a bit. The more time it spends outside, the better:
Exposing it to the outdoor elements – the sun, the rain, and the fresh air – will eventually help it become part of the habitat smell-wise.
Next, you should think about blending into the environment.
Use the surrounding vegetation to your advantage – freshly cut tree limbs, cattails, grass, brush, and whatever else natural foliage you can find nearby – should be laid out on top and around the sides of your blind. Again, the aim is to blend into the woods as naturally as possible.
The good news is that most high-quality models feature straps and loops designed to help you attach natural camouflage on the outside of the blind – so, that’s one less thing to worry about here.
And remember how I mentioned that paying attention to details is key to blind hunting success.
Following that rule, I strongly recommend that you take the time to clean the inside of your blind – and by that, I mean get rid of any dry leaves, grass, or twigs. Anything that could potentially make some noise when stepped on having to go.
Otherwise, one wrong step could blow your entire cover.
#5: Learn to use the sun and wind to your advantage
You’re probably thinking that, when hunting from ground blinds, sun and wind can be your worst enemies. And you’re right; they can make or break your hunt:
A deer’s eyes can be as sharp as their nose – there’s isn’t a movement or a scent that could escape them.
However, if you play your cards right here, you might be able to turn these elements into your biggest allies – and I’m going to show you how to achieve that in the following lines!
Start with finding the right location for your ground blind.
You should try to find a spot that’s downwind from an active game trail – and with the sun coming from behind you.
That will ensure two things:
1) Checking for prevailing winds, and making sure that you stay downwind at all times – with the wind blowing to you, and not from you – will give you the best possible chances of avoiding being detected by a deer’s incredibly sensitive nose.
All seasoned hunters know how useful scent-eliminating sprays are in this scenario – be sure to apply scent control liberally not only on yourself but on your gear and the inside of the blind, too.
2) You’ll be able to see better, and your face won’t light up like a light bulb in the middle of the woods whenever you look out the window.
On that note, your positioning inside the blind matters almost as much as the location of the blind itself. I know that it’s tempting to sit near the openings because it gives you a better view, but your movements won’t be concealed.
Instead, learn to hide in the shadows:
When you sit in the back corner, you’ll still have a clear shot across the blind, but you won’t be exposed to direct sunlight. For an added advantage, be sure to wear dark clothing, keep your hands covered – and give camo face paint a try, too.
Bonus: 3 common hunting mistakes to avoid
You can follow these tips to the letter and have the best ground blind for bowhunting you can buy. But you still won’t have any luck hunting big buck if you keep making the same hunting mistakes over and over again.
So, before I wrap things up, I’d like to take a moment to go over the three most common ground blind hunting mistakes – and how to avoid them:
1) Moving Too Much – While a ground blind can be a decent hiding spot, it won’t make you undetectable – you still have to be mindful of the noises and movement you’re making while inside the blind. You can probably get away with some movement, but keep them subtle and calculated.
2) Pigeonholing Yourself – Restricting themselves to a single shooting lane and limited visibility is, by far, the most common mistake hunters make. You should be able to keep an eye on them as they travel up or down the trail – but not get so close that you don’t have time to react.
3) Not Firing At The Right Moment – Even if you set everything up right, the deer will still be able to detect some movements inside the blind, especially if it comes close enough. That means that you’ll only get one opportune moment to make your draw – be sure to use it wisely.
One Final Piece Of Advice
I know that hunting deer from the ground blind is considered the road less traveled. However, I’d like to say that, as long as you follow these ground blind hunting tips, it can be exciting – and not to mention, rewarding – experience.
Just because you’re used to tree stands and having that advantage of an elevated hunting position doesn’t mean that ground-blind hunting isn’t worth giving a shot.
Focus on the details and use them to your advantage. And I’m sure that it will pay off during upcoming hunting seasons!