Ground blinds for whitetail deer are excellent hunting tools and suitable for almost every type of game. They provide the best concealment and some freedom of movement. With the right setup and techniques. You can almost eliminate the chances of visually spooking an animal. In addition, many store-bought blinds provide some scent control as well. Many ground blinds nowadays are popup hub style, which are extremely quick and easy to use. The hardest part about it is picking the right spot and knowing a little bit about camouflage and deer eyesight. Natural blinds offer good concealment and affordability at the cost of scent cover and ease of assembly. I find that using both types in areas that they excel individually can be a lethal combination.
Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!
First off, let’s look at traditional store-bought deer hunting blinds. When choosing a ground blind, look at matching camo patterns to your environment. For the most part, retailers will offer a variety of patterns for any given part of the country. While you won’t be punished if your camo pattern doesn’t perfectly blend with its surroundings, try your best to at least match the background color.
Consider how often the deer in question have been hunted from ground blinds, and their experience being around ground blinds regardless if there’s a hunter in there or not. There is no predefined amount of time it takes for deer to acclimate to a ground blind in their territory, but you can minimize the chances of spooking by doing your best to conceal both yourself and the blind.
One of the most common ways hunters get busted by deer is by not breaking up their outline. Deer are not able to pick up the same range of colors as humans, but they have excellent night vision, They also possess a much wider field of view. This means that although a deer does not appear to be looking directly at you, they can still probably see you. Furthermore, deer do not have the ability to focus between objects up close and objects in the distance, recall our Section xx: Whitetail Deer Vision for a refresher. The most important factors are movement and outline. We’ve seen it many times, you move a little and the deer stops, points their nose at you and stares. If you move again, you’re busted, and if your outline is too pronounced compared to your backdrop, you’re busted.
Some store-bought popup blinds have a sort of frilly material along the edges to help break up the outline. You can also purchase the same material camo in a type of net configuration so that you can break up the outline of pretty much any blind. In addition, these nettings make decent quick deploy blinds if you’re running and gunning. Another great way to break up the outline, albeit with a little work involved, is using the natural foliage around your blind. Roping a bit of paracord around the top of your blind allows you to weave in some leaves and branches which will go a long way in concealing your hunting blind.
The image below/right is a great example of using natural foliage to break up the outline of a ground blind. The placement seems to be on a field edge, and I assume the hunters are confident the deer are not going to approach from behind them as their visibility is severely limited in that sense. This is fine if they’ve done their scouting and are confident the deer will come within range. Sometimes it’s not possible to have every little factor work in your favor so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and play to the strengths of your chosen spot.
All of this applies to natural blinds as well, except with natural blinds you have more control over the size and outline, thus making it easier to conceal a blind anywhere you please. The downside of this is that you must build these blinds well ahead of time to both allow animals to acclimate, and for your scent to dissipate from the area. The huge upside is that you can construct as many as you want, and as the years go on, these blinds will get better and better to hunt out of. Where I hunt, I have about 10 natural blinds constructed that I use mainly for Turkey. I practically get a turkey every year by rotating which blinds I use depending on which one is hot in the given season.
Now that we’ve tackled outline, we can focus on the little things to keep in mind once you’re in the blind. Deer will seldom flee once they see your blind, but they will likely keep an eye on it while they go about their business. At this point, you want to move as little as possible so that they do not key in on the movement through the windows. In a blind, light is your enemy as it creates a lit backdrop that will outline you through the windows. Do your best to close as many windows as possible. If there’s no shooting lane present and you don’t expect to take a shot from a specific window, close it. Should you feel the need to look in that direction, do so by opening the window a crack to peek. Be sure to test the loudness of zippers on the display models in the store.
In terms of clothing, many hunters wear their regular camo and hunter orange when required, and that is totally fine. Considering everything previously stated, wearing camo in a blind is not an issue, and 99 percent of the time it won’t be the reason you get busted. If, however, you want an extra layer of outline busting power, wear black. Almost every blind on the market is lined with a black, light absorbing, scent controlling material. You can become virtually invisible by wearing scent blocking black clothing and face paint/mask. Again, this approaches overkill territory, but it’s worth it if you’re willing to go that extra mile. There’s a man sitting in the middle of the blind in the image below/right, he’s virtually invisible!
The placement of ground blinds is extremely important, especially when bow hunting. The transition zone between the field and the wood is an excellent place for a ground blind. You will have to do some scouting ahead of time to find game trails leading into the feeding area. Get as close as you can to the areas they’re most likely to pop out of, but also keep in mind the backdrop for your blind. Pick a spot thick enough to break up the outline of your blind, but not so thick that it completely blocks visibility into the wood.
Hunting blinds are good to use throughout the season, but you must move to match conditions. Set up on field edges in the early season. Hunting over clover or alfalfa before moving to crop fields in the time leading up to the rut. In the post rut season, most of the leaves will be gone and crop fields harvested. So now would be an opportune time to hunt winter feeding zones inside the forest. If you don’t have access to fields, ground blinds can be useful for ambushing deer as they move along their travel corridors. Find the paths of least resistance along funnels and connecting trails between bedding and feeding sites. Hunting from a ground blind in these situations means you’re going to be up close. Therefore you must be extra mindful of concealment, scent control, wind direction, and your approach route.
The great thing about hunting a field edge from a ground blind is that there is little work required to clear shooting lanes. So you’re less likely to spook deer that way. When setting up your blind, avoid the sun’s gaze by facing North or South. Keep wind direction in mind and thoroughly spray down your blind with scent eliminator. Another option would be to make use of an ozone machine to get rid of all odors.
Cleaning up the area in and around your blind is important as it cuts down on noises and allows you a silent entry. Plan your route to your blind when picking a spot. You will want to have the best approach that minimizes the risk of nearby deer seeing, hearing, or smelling you. If you are setting up ahead of time, bring some garden tools. A rake to clear up leaves and twigs inside your blind goes a long way. It’s also useful to have some clippers to cut small branches and shrubs which you can then use to conceal your blind.
Once you set your blind and begin hunting out of it, do your best to move in an out when there are no deer around. Giving them the chance to see that a human is inside will severely limit your ability to hunt from that blind in the near future. It is better to arrive earlier or leave later than it is to risk ruining a hunting spot.
Whether you’re using store bought or natural blinds, the strategies remain the same. Start by finding feeding areas and likely routes to and from bedding areas. Scout the field, and note where the deer like to travel, and which areas of the field they like to hang out in. Identify possible locations for a ground blind by taking into account sunlight, backdrop, wind direction, game trail, and your own entry/exit route. Do all this ahead of time, and in multiple locations to increase your chances of success. When possible, set ground blinds in anticipation of where the deer will be throughout the season. I use store-bought blinds in the early season around early season food draws. Then I use, constructed natural blinds in late season feeding areas. This allows you to seamlessly transition between feeding areas. Without risking deer becoming weary of a newly constructed ground blinds for whitetail deer.