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Will Deer Notice a Ground Blind? | What Hunters Should Know

Two bucks hiding in the brush and staring at the camera

Surprise, surprise, deer may or may not notice a ground blind, and it all has to do with you. You have to set up your blind correctly and understand the strategies deer use to recognize hunters. This guide is the place to start.

Understanding Deer Senses

Although deer have all the same senses as you and I—sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch—their relative strengths are much different, so deer use them differently to understand the world around them.

Sight

Deer have poor vision compared to humans in three main ways:

  • They’re red-green color blind, meaning red and green appear the same to them.
  • As prey animals, their eyes are on the sides of their heads. This gives them a wider field of vision but poor depth perception.
  • Their visual acuity is much worse. They have the equivalent of 20/200 vision, which means they have to be within 20 feet to make out a pattern a human can distinguish from 200 feet.

When you think about all the bizarre behavior you’ve seen from deer, this may help explain it. For example, I once saw a deer run out onto the interstate straight into the side of a truck.

Still, hunters seem to overemphasize deer sight when they’re preparing for a hunt and worrying about ground-blind concealment. You can’t imagine you’re hiding your blind from another person but a wild animal that just doesn’t see in the same way.

Smell

In contrast to sight, deer can smell incredibly well, much better than you and even better than dogs. Meanwhile, you and I can smell quite poorly, so you or your deer blind may be emitting an odor that you don’t even notice but spooks the deer.

Hearing

While not as dramatic as smell, deer can hear a bit better than humans too. It’s best to understand how it’s better:

  • Deer can hear a wider range of frequencies with sensitivity tuned a bit higher. Deer can hear from 250 hertz to 30,000 hertz while humans hear between 20 and 20,000 hertz. Their ideal range is 3,000 to 8,000 hertz versus 2,000 to 5,000 for us.
  • Deer can rotate their ears to pinpoint the direction and distance of sound. They have better binocular hearing.

Deer Sight and a Ground Blind

Keeping in mind what we know about deer vision, we can better understand how the blind’s appearance might spook them. Camouflage is important, but your biggest job is just to make it not look conspicuous. For example, many hunters simply put the blind in a field with hay bales, and that’s enough. The deer just see multiple bulky objects and don’t think anything of it.

With poor depth perception and visual acuity, deer mainly notice movement. Ground blinds don’t usually move, but you do. Therefore, your concern is whether the deer can see you moving inside your blind.

Blind Mesh and Deer Vision

Many hunters worry that deer can see them through the mesh viewpoints in their blind, especially if they notice that they can see inside the blind. But remember, deer can’t see as well as you. Generally, deer cannot see you through blind mesh if it’s manufactured correctly.  

Silhouettes and Shadows

There is a slight risk that with lightweight mobile ground blinds, enough direct light will make movement inside the ground blind visible from outside. This usually happens when the blind is backlit by the sun—in other words when the blind is in between the sun on the horizon and the deer.

The best way to help with this is to wear black clothing, but really, you should just avoid putting a blind in this position if you can. Backlighting also makes the straight lines of the blind more conspicuous, meaning that even a deer with poor vision may recognize it as man-made and get spooked.

Deer Smell and a Ground Blind

A ground blind is a good strategy for concealing your scent, though it varies a bit by the type of blind. A fully sealed box blind can hide your scent entirely, at least until you open one of the windows. A fabric blind with mesh viewpoints still blocks your scent pretty well, but a little might escape. In either case, a deer’s sense of smell is so powerful that it’s still a good idea to take scent control measures.

The other question is whether the deer can smell the blind itself. Made of plastics and synthetic materials, the smell of a ground blind can definitely spook a deer, especially if it’s new.

Solution? Wash your blind, air it out, rub brush, leaves, and dirt over it, and set it up a couple of weeks before you hunt to let it absorb the smell of the surrounding woods.

Deer Hearing and a Ground Blind

Luckily, ground blinds themselves don’t make much noise once they’re set up. Again, the issue is you moving inside the blind. An accidental loud noise is the most likely way you’ll end up spooking a deer from your ground blind, so stay vigilant.

When the Blind Will Spook Them—And When It Won’t

I’ll tell you right now, the biggest factor in whether a ground blind will spook a deer is whether they’re used to it. This depends on how much they’re exposed to man-made objects and how long the ground blind has been in that area. 

For example, a ground blind suddenly popping up in the middle of a desolate North Dakota prairie is going to drive away deer for miles. A ground blind that’s been up since summer in Mississippi woods dotted with transmission towers and fences, they’ll come right up to it.

The best way to keep your blind from spooking deer is to set it up at least two weeks before hunting from it.

What If I Don’t Have Two Weeks?

I’m primarily a public land hunter myself, so I understand that you cannot always set your blind up well in advance. In these cases, it’s essential to consider deer senses as I went over above. Keep movement to a minimum, but above all, use scent control on yourself and the blind.