There is a lethal weapon being deployed by guides and outfitters across this country, and hunters owe it to themselves to add one to their hunting arsenal. Once considered a fad for turkey hunting in the 1990’s, the fully enclosed, pop-up, ground blind is now a mainstream must-have for deer hunting and other big game pursuits. Whether you have traditionally declined the use of ground blinds due to their cumbersome appearance, or you have simply written them off as not being practical, here are three reasons that might convince you to reconsider this bona-fide tool of freezer-filling success.
The evolution of ground blind acceptance is no more evident than in the world of Whitetail hunting. This particular animal has spawned a mega-industry of hunting products, cable networks, TV shows, hunting and conservation organizations, hunting guide businesses, and other multi-media platforms. If you watch any informational Whitetail video production, you will see a portable ground blind being consistently utilized.
These video-makers need animal kills to educate, test equipment, promote the industry, and market their causes, simply put; they use proven methods to get these kills. Ground blinds are an integral part of that mission. This fact is not lost on the outfitting and guiding industry either. Rod Sullins, of Southeast Kansas Outfitters, plainly states, “They work. More than fifty percent of all SEKO’s trophy bucks are killed from ground blinds.” Sullins has helped numerous clients place their tags on Boone & Crockett bucks, and it’s not just his rifle hunters who get to know the inside of a pop-up blind either. “Most of my muzzle-loader hunters in September are in blinds, and we have taken some nice archery bucks from them as well, at all times of the season,” says Sullins. He also adds, “Ground blinds work, and they are game-changers in my business.”
The Great Plains are not the only place experiencing the evolution of ground blind use. They have been a long-time factor on the southern deer, hog and turkey hunting scenes. In the western United States, they are becoming essential equipment for waterhole hunting of Mule Deer and Pronghorns. Ground blinds are even being used near the shores of the Pacific Ocean to hunt Black Bear, Blacktail Deer, Elk, Columbia Whitetail Deer, wild hogs, and wild turkey from Washington State to California.
Most of the Pacific Northwest is a rugged hunting environment. Within its area, every single topographic terrain feature is brutally represented. Since ground blinds weigh less than 20 pounds, it makes carrying them afield extremely feasible, and a convenient option for some mountain hunting situations. Western Oregon guide, Jody Smith, of Jody Smith Guide Services, has been using ground blinds in occasional deer hunting situations for several years. He also likes to use them in Black Bear country where the hills can get tall and steep. When Black Bears begin to kick start their metabolisms in the spring, they like to forage. They need large areas that are usually found in higher elevations, so hunters must traverse more extreme country. “I like to put some of my clients in blinds on south-facing slopes,” says Smith. He adds, “The Black Bears like to feed on early mushrooms, lichens, and new grasses, and this is where we target them, and it’s not always going to be an easy hike.”
Their mobility is also appreciated in Kansas where Sullins likes to use ground blinds for spontaneous set-ups on his Whitetails. “If deer are suddenly popping out to feed in a new pasture or crop field, I’ll set up a blind on the perimeter and hope for an ambush hunt,” says Sullins. He will often move a blind several times, and this allows him the freedom to move around without the commitment of hanging a tree stand, trimming shooting lanes, while letting the area cool off for a while. “I just like having the ability to quickly adapt to the deer instead of reacting to the deer,” adds Sullins.
A ground blind will not only protect you from the elements and unfavorable wind conditions, but it will also protect you from yourself. Most hunters cannot sit still and concentrate for hours at a time. A blind will let you get away with a lot of movement. Jody Smith appreciates this fact and breaks it down into simpler terms. “Wear dark clothing, keep only one window open for scent control and to not let light give you away, and sit as far back as possible.” Smith’s advice on the scent control aspect is based on simple physics, “One open window lets a small amount of hunter’s scent escape, but two open windows will create an airflow that will send out a steady stream of it.” Sullins also appreciates what ground blinds conceal. “When I started to move hunters out of tree and ladder stands during cold weather, and put them in warm ground blinds, the kill ratio improved instantly.” Like any group of people, a lot of Sullin’s hunters are older or have slight medical issues that make sitting still in a tree near impossible. For the most part, what happens in the ground blind stays in the ground blind.
At the most, ground blinds will help you find more hunting success; at the worst, they will offer you some conveniences and comforts that are easy to get used to. If you want to expand your tactics and get closer to reaching your potential as a hunter, add a ground blind to your hunting routine.