I have to admit, I get bored easily. Even hunting. As a result, I try a lot of different methods just to mix things up. Although a tree stand is my most common setup, the ground blind has also become one of my favorites.
A ground blind is basically a small tent that hides you from the game you’re hunting. Most are camouflaged, and there’s usually a narrow shooting slit or two from which you take aim.
Ground blinds are very effective for hunting and can even be more effective than tree stands in certain situations. I’ll go over exactly what these situations are and why you should use a ground blind so you can decide for yourself.
How Do Hunters Use Ground Blinds?
Hunters use ground blinds in much the same way as tree stands. In fact, I’d say the ideal placements for the two are nearly identical:
- Tree lines
- Waterway crossings
- Game trails
Really, the difference in placement only comes in when considering the thickness of the woods. Tree stands require relatively old forests where trees are thick enough to support your weight. Ground blinds, however, benefit from newer forests where the trees are young but the brush is thicker. They also work in prairie environments where there is minimal forest cover at all, just tall grass.
In the appropriate environment, I set up a ground blind on the border between an area of thick brush and a deer feeding area. Ideally, I find the point on this border that’s the most elevated so I can look down into the feeding area. This isn’t always possible, though.
Pros and Cons of Hunting From a Ground Blind
To be honest, I hunt much more frequently from a tree stand than from a ground blind. However, ground blinds have their place for specific situations and specific hunters based on your environment, goals, and preferences.
- Camouflage: While the ground blind itself needs to be adequately camouflaged, it makes it impossible for the deer to spot you because you’re completely hidden
- Weather protection: Ground blinds are great for the days you just don’t feel like enduring the rain and cold. In fact, I’ve even brought a small space heater for my blind.
- Scent containment: A ground blind does not cover your scent absolutely, but it does a much better job than any other setup.
- Mobility: Ground blinds have fewer limitations for setup than tree stands. For example, they don’t require a sturdy tree. Additionally, they’re usually lighter-weight and easier to carry into the woods.
- Accessibility: Elderly hunters, kids, those with disabilities, or just anyone who doesn’t feel like climbing into a tree can use a ground blind.
- Space: Ground blinds give you more room. That’s more comfortable and potentially lets you bring a friend or family member.
- Limited visibility: By far the biggest con, ground blinds do not provide elevated visibility, and they actively impair your visibility because they only have narrow slots for viewing and shooting. No 360-degree field of view.
- Noise: Ground blinds can be noisy when you set them up because the fabric can rustle and crinkle in the brush.
- Setup time: Most people know how frustrating setting up a tent can be. Since that’s basically what a ground blind is…
- More noticeable: Proper placement and a camo design can minimize this, but deer are much more likely to notice a ground blind than a tree stand or other set up. For one thing, it’s at eye level. It may also cast shadows and create a pattern-breaking shape with straight lines, a dead giveaway to game.
Ground Blinds Compared to Other Types of Hunting
Based on the pros and cons, ground blinds work best in certain situations. In my opinion, the best way is to compare ground blinds with your other options to see which is a good idea on a given day or hunt.
Compared to stand hunting, ground blinds are better for:
- Social hunts with multiple people
- Hunters who are unwilling or are unable to use a tree stand
- Environments with few large trees but lots of tall grass
- Rainy, windy, or extra cold days
Compared to still hunting, ground blinds are just better in the sense that they’ll improve your chances of success, at least over the long run. If you’re going to still hunt, it should be because you want to. You want the challenge and activity, and you’re interested in learning to track game animals.
In still hunting, you move around through the woods (I know, the name is confusing), and it takes skill not to spook the deer. However, with a hunting blind, you’re well hidden, waiting for the deer to come by.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you’re hunting on private land, you can mitigate many of the downsides of ground blinds by setting yours up early. Depending on the feasibility of your personal situation, consider setting up the blind a full month before you go hunting. This gives the deer plenty of time to get used to it.
As an added bonus, you won’t have to carry the blind into the woods with you. That gives you more room in your kit and prevents unnecessary noise.
Silhouettes and Shadows
This is the problem with ground blinds that I see hunters overlook the most, and to be fair, it can be a bit complicated. During the deer hunting season, light is low, and a misplaced ground blind can easily create a shadow or silhouette that gives away your position.
Let me give you an example. Assuming you’re hunting in North America, an evening hunt in November means the sun is setting in the southwest. Therefore, if you set up your blind on a hill to the southwest of where the deer will be, your blind will create a very noticeable silhouette on the hill that will spook the deer. Instead, make sure to set up the blind to the northeast of where you expect the deer to pass.
When I’m stand hunting, I don’t usually bother to match my clothing camo exactly to the environment. As long as it doesn’t create a noticeable pattern, I’m good.
However, a blind should really blend in well with the landscape around it. When you’re purchasing a blind, make sure the leaf types and patterns are the same as those in your area. Color is less important, but it’s still best to avoid greens if you know your hunting environment will be a consistent brown when you hunt.
When you shoot from a ground blind, you shoot from a narrow slit. This may involve crouching or positioning yourself in a different way from your normal shot. You should do some pre-hunt practice to make sure you can still hit a target accurately.
So, Should You Try Ground Blind Hunting?
I recommend every deer hunter give ground blinds a try. They complement tree stands and actually work better in certain situations, specifically when you don’t have sturdy trees or can’t safely climb one. Plus, you can use a ground blind to make your hunt a social one and enjoy the time with friends or family.
Christian grew up in the Ozarks where he spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ homestead learning about guns, hunting, and the great outdoors.
An avid traditional bowhunter, much of his writing covers this and other similar topics, but he also covers just about everything from history and economics to motorcycles.
See more of his work at ChristianMonson.com.