Deer Hunting from a Ground Blind

Ground Blind for Deer HuntingAfter treestands, the next most popular ambush-style deer hunting tactic is using a ground blind. In certain situations, ground blinds can be an excellent tactical option for concealing yourself and blending into the natural environment. As we'll see, they can also help boost your odds of success in other ways as well.

In this article, we'll cover the basics of hunting deer from a ground blind, including the benefits of blinds, when and where to set them up, and tips on how to use pop-up blinds effectively.

Types of Ground Blinds

A ground blind is any natural feature or man-made product that you use to conceal your body while hunting deer on terra firma. A wide range of objects can be used as ground blinds, but there are three basic types:

  • Existing - An existing ground blind could be a natural feature like a bush, a downed log, or a boulder. Or it could be a manmade item like an old abandoned car. The advantage of existing blinds is they don't require any effort. However, the disadvantage is they're not moveable so they have to already be in a good location.

  • Constructed - A constructed ground blind is one that you make yourself, usually out of natural vegetation. By weaving together a bunch of sticks and branches, you can create a fairly effective blind. The advantage here is that you can choose where to construct it. The disadvantage, as with the existing blind, is that you can't move it.

  • Pop-Up - A pop-up ground blind is a commercially manufactured product that looks like a tent, is made of lightweight poles and fabric, and can be set up and broken down quickly. The main advantage of a pop-up blind is that, unlike existing and constructed blinds, it is mobile (there are also a host of other benefits, which we'll cover in just a second). Their only real disadvantage is that they cost money. However, in recent years, they've become more and more affordable.

Benefits of Pop-Up Ground Blinds

While there is certainly a time and place for existing and constructed ground blinds, the most flexible, effective, and versatile ground blind available to you is a pop-up ground blind. So, for the rest of this article, we'll be focusing on pop-ups and how to most effectively use them in the field. Let's start with the benefits of pop-up ground blinds. They:

  • Hide Your Body - Pop-up blinds erase the outline of your human form, making it harder for deer to identify your presence through sight.

  • Conceal Your Movement - Pop-up blinds reduce the chance that you'll spook deer when making small movements, allowing you more freedom when handling your gear and moving in other necessary ways.

  • Contain Your Scent - Pop-up blinds reduce the amount of human scent that escapes into your surrounding environment. You still have to be in good wind position, but it's less likely your scent will disperse enough to alert the noses of deer.

  • Minimize Sound - Pop-up blinds are a great way to reduce the amount of sound you broadcast. You still have to remain very quiet, but the blind gives you a higher margin for error.

  • Shield You From The Elements - Pop-up blinds make hunting in the rain, wind, and cold much more bearable, which can enable you to hunt longer hours in adverse conditions. It should be noted, though, that they don't work well in really hot weather because they heat up too much.

  • Protect You From Bugs - If you're hunting in an area infested with mosquitoes or other pesky insects, a pop-up blind can screen you from these annoying critters and greatly extend the amount of time you can hunt comfortably.

In addition, pop-up blinds can allow more than one hunter to easily hunt together from the same spot. They can also allow you to hunt areas with lower hunting pressure due to a lack of treestand hunters.

Where Pop-Up Blinds Excel

Like any deer hunting tactic, using a pop-up ground blind is not going to be the best choice for all situations. But, in certain circumstances, pop-up blinds can be one of your best options. This tactic really excels in:

  • Flat areas like praries
  • Regions with few or no trees
  • Agricultural fields after crops are harvested
  • Open river valleys
  • Creek bottoms
  • Grassy fields
  • Cattail swamps
  • Clearcuts
  • Waterholes (typically in mule deer country)

Any deer hunter could achieve success by using use a pop-up ground blind in the right setting. However, there are three types of hunters that pop-up blinds are particularly perfect for:

  • Bowhunters - Because bowhunters have the added challenge of drawing a bow before being able to shoot, pop-up blinds can work wonders for them by concealing the movement of the draw at close range.

  • Young Hunters - One of the biggest challenges for young hunters is sitting still for long periods of time. Pop-up blinds are nice because they allow kids a little more freedom of movement, increasing their chances of success as well as the chance they'll have an enjoyable experience.

  • Beginning Hunters - When you're starting out deer hunting, there's a lot that you can do wrong. Pop-up blinds are more forgiving and offer a greater margin of error when it comes to concealing your scent, sight, and sound.

Setting Up Your Pop-Up Blind

So you've decided that hunting from a pop-up ground blind is a tactic you'll be using this deer hunting season. There are some points you need to consider when planning your setup.

The first question is: where specifically in your hunting area should you set up your blind? Your scouting should have already given you a good idea of the travel routes of the deer and the wind patterns in the area, so you'll want to take those into consideration first and foremost. If you're hunting with a rifle, muzzleloader, or shotgun, you have a good amount of range to work with, so pick a location where you can see in multiple directions for distances up to and beyond the range of your weapon. One way to achieve this is to go high. Try setting up on hilltops, ridges, or anywhere you can get the best vantage point. But also try to set up in or close to thicker brush -- this will break up the outline of your blind and prevent skylining.

If you're bowhunting, you'll have to plan on getting a lot closer because of the more limited range of your bow. Good ambush spots for bowhunting deer from a pop-up ground blind include funnels, saddles, fingers, and benches. Try going low by setting up your blind in a dip or depression so it is naturally obscured by the topography. It's a balancing act between setting up your blind close enough to the deer trail so you can be within comfortable shooting range, but not so close that you risk spooking the deer.

The next question is: when should you set up your blind? One principle that's universally agreed on here is the need to set up your blind in advance of hunting so the deer have time to get used to its presence and catalog it as non-threatening. You should set it up at least three days before you plan to hunt, but it's a whole lot safer if you set it up one to two weeks early. There is one exception to this rule, however. In some farm country, you may be able to get away with setting up or moving your blind on shorter notice because deer may be used to seeing farm equipment in different places from day to day.

Pop-Up Ground Blind Hunting Tips

Here are some other key points to keep in mind when setting up your pop-up ground blind for deer hunting:

  • Choose a camo pattern that blends in well with the terrain and vegetation in which you'll be hunting.

  • Practice setting up the blind in your back yard before you set it up in the field so you're familiar with how it works.

  • Practice shooting from the blind before you're out hunting in it. Make sure you practice shooting from many different angles and positions so you're ready for lots of different shooting situations.

  • If the blind is brand new, set it up outside and let it air out for a few days to get rid of that new blind smell.

  • When you set up the blind in the field, attach large amounts of natural vegetation, artificial vegetation, or camo netting to the outside to further break up its outline. Be sure to cover the top, bottom, sides, and corners.

  • If you're setting up in thicker cover, clear multiple shooting lanes around the blind so you don't end up staring at a deer you can't confidently shoot.

  • Set up in a place where you can have a wide field of view. You won't be able to see as well as you would from a treestand, so you'll want to have the widest view possible.

  • Use a rangefinder. When viewing the world from inside a pop-up ground blind, it's all too easy to perceive a deer as being farther away than it actually is.


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