Tips & Tactics

Eye Level Excitement

Eye Level Excitement

By Ken Piper

There’s a learning curve associated with using ground blinds effectively.

I used to love hunting from treestands. My Summit climber was my best friend, and I had some amazing hunts and shot many deer from its comfortable confines.

Conversely, I used to hate ground blinds. I missed opportunities at several decent bucks because of various problems with windows or being spotted. I also don’t like not being able to see 360 degrees – you never know where a buck is going to come from, after all.

Well, that was years ago ... several pounds ago ... and one serious treestand fall ago (yes, I was wearing a harness or I wouldn’t be writing this today). Ground blinds are now my preferred setup, not only because they’re more comfortable and more safe, but also because they can be highly effective when used properly.

That last part is the key. Because you’re going eye-to-eye (and eye-to-nose) with the bucks, there’s a lot that can go wrong. And we all know Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Like a novice hunter, I learned many ground blind lessons the hard way. Many of those I can’t relate because yours will be different based on how you hunt, where you hunt and the season you hunt.

What I can tell you is don’t wait until the season starts to become familiar with your blind. If you’re a bowhunter, practice shooting from your blind weeks before archery season opens.

Create realistic hunting situations. It’s not as simple as sitting comfortably in your blind with fully open windows and shooting at a target. If you want to remain undetected in a ground blind while drawing a bow and shifting position to get a shot, you’ll need lots of cover around and over most of your windows.

You need to be able to see and shoot through small openings, and you need to be able to do so from your knees, from one knee or even crouched. Seldom does a buck present the perfect shot from the exact spot you expect him to occupy. Having tried and failed to hunt with just one open window, I’ve since learned you need to be able to shoot through multiple sides of the blind. There’s a fine line between concealment and shootability.

Practice until shooting and adjusting for shots becomes second-nature. While you practice, keep in mind you’re also trying to move without being detected, so practice being stealthy as well.

Full-length articles are required for detailed ground blind strategies, but I can share some quick tips that apply to nearly all setups.

First, don’t set up too close to trails. Set up your blind as far from them as you feel comfortable shooting.

Next, brush in your blind to look like the surrounding foliage. Place the blind in a thick spot so your camouflage efforts are less noticeable. The look of the woods will change throughout hunting season, but you’ll need to refresh the cover brush periodically, anyway.

Clear the ground inside the blind perimeter. I prefer blinds with floors, but it’s best to clear the area to the dirt either way.

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