Shoot your deer from terra firma
Quite often, tactics used for deer hunting come around full circle over time. Thirty years ago, virtually no deer hunters had heard of factory-manufactured, lock-on tree stands, ladder stands or climbers. Many had never even seen or used one.
A few hunters built elevated tree houses to hunt from. Some were simply fabricated pallet platforms up in a tree. Others more likely just wedged a 2×6 board into the Y-juncture of a split tree trunk. Still others with a little ingenuity built wooden ladder stands and posted them all over deer-hunting areas. Some of these old, rotted, abandoned structures still stand in whitetail country. It’s a visual reminder of what were early advancements in hunting tactics many seasons ago.
Before the advent of homemade stands, and well before assembly-line tree stands crafted of welded metal and padded fabric seats came on the scene, everyone basically hunted deer from the ground. In those days, a tree stand meant standing by one, not climbing up into it.
Now we have come full circle again, but with a significant twist. Many hunters are either abandoning their lofty perches altogether or at least splitting their time between tree stands and ground blinds. But today’s ground blinds can be a much different affair.
When deer hunting, being as unseen as possible is best. Being able to conceal or block careful movements to avoid detection is paramount. Having a position close to the deer action, yet well hidden, is important.
It is ideal to have placement where either a wide view of a whitetail haunt or a clear shot at a narrow travel lane or funnel. And either can be achieved with a well-planned setup on the ground.
A ground blind positioned where the hunter can slip into or out of it with little notice, disturbance or contamination makes for a perfect situation. With some judicious planning, preparation and an assessment of the surrounds, a hunter can set up a ground blind to maximize nearly all the potential angles of vision.
Ground blinds offer not only an added measure of concealment, but a great deal of flexibility as well. Portable ground blinds can be collapsed in a matter of minutes and slipped into a backpack to be moved anywhere else to create a whole new set-up.
Containment-type blinds offer an extra degree of scent control, reducing the need to use extra scent-killer sprays, except for coming and going from the blind. They also offer some protection from the elements.
Options to hide
Ground blinds come in two configurations. They are man-made, put together in the field or naturally formed by Mother Nature. Hunters may add extra supplemental natural or synthetic materials.
The store-bought types come in a wide variety of designs. From simple shielding screens to self-contained, tent-type blinds to hard-shell fiberglass, molded plastic or wooden hunting condos with roofs, floors, windows and a whole host of custom features.
A screen-type blind often used by turkey hunters can be improved for a long, deer-hunting. Adding a few limbs or greenery to break the outline is all it takes. Hunters can sit on a comfortable cushion or low-profile seat. They can lay their gear out behind the barrier, and shooting sticks or a bi-pod are options. Hunters can leave such a blind in the woods for several weeks. Or it can be packed up and moved whenever the wind changes.
Every deer hunter can locate a number of decent ground blinds created by nature. Just add a seat, maybe some camouflage fabric or cover up any exposed holes with fresh cedar or pine cuttings. Create a triangle shape so you can see in all directions. Ideally, the terrain behind a setup like this would be the least-likely direction deer would come.
Pop-up blinds offer many advantages
Pop-up blinds are in vogue these days. Basically, they’re a small version of a camping tent, with fabric walls and supports. Some are created for one hunter. But others can easily accommodate two or more. Some are even designed for bowhunters with shoot-through, screened windows. Hunters may need to do a quick ground clearing before setting one up.
Fabric blinds add an extra dimension of concealment as well as protection from the weather. The greater the hunter-comfort quotient, the longer the hunter is likely to stay engaged while waiting for a big buck to appear.
An extension of sewn-fabric, tent-type blinds are more permanent structures often referred to as “condos.” These are heavy-duty molded or assembled-panel blinds, and are the ultimate when it comes to terra-firma hunting stands. They offer 360-degree visibility with total protection from the elements. See-through windows can be opened for air flow or locked closed to keep the wind and rain out. Some models can be towed by ATVs or attachable wheels for ease of movement, and they are large or small enough to accommodate one to four hunters.
Location, location, location. Subtle differences in setup tactics appeal to hunters in trees and on the ground. After identifying and scouting a prime area, the next step is to locate an ideal place to position a ground blind. Foremost is a spot that allows open vision of the area. Better also is a spot that permits easy access with minimal exposure to the hunting area. Avoid setups that require crossing a huge open area or even traversing a long way around edge habitat.
Factory blinds should be blended into the surroundings using brush or other natural cover. Placing limbs around the blind in irregular patterns will help further break up the outline of the blind, but make certain vision is not blocked. Once set up, get things organized inside. Make sure weapons can be easily maneuvered and mounted for a shot.