A fundamental maxim of hunting is for you to see the prey before the prey sees you. This is why hunting blinds are so popular. They provide concealment for you, as well as a comfortable place to wait for that prey to appear. Whether you hunt deer, elk, turkey or waterfowl, blinds let you pick the perfect spot, help you blend into the environment, and protect you from the elements.
Buying a Blind
The obvious first question to ask is what are you hunting? Duck blinds and deer blinds are two completely different, well, animals. Waterfowl blinds can be set up on land or water. With deer blinds the fundamental question is bow or rifle. A bow means you’ll need more interior space. Draw your bow all the way back and then leave some wiggle room beyond that. You will also need some extra space depending on some other factors. For example, if you bring your son along, you’ll want more than a one-person blind. And if you travel via ATV you’ll want a blind big enough to hold the vehicle.
You also need to look at what you are hunting and the way you hunt it. Scent control is critical for deer, so you’ll want blinds with scent control fabrics. For turkey, that’s really not an issue. Camouflage is important, but don’t just assume any pattern will work. Take a look at the camouflage on the blind and make sure it will blend into the area you’re actually going to hunt in. Whether you stand or kneel will determine where you want visibility. Also, blinds with windows, screens or doors in all directions give maximum flexibility and the widest fields of fire. Portability is another big factor if you plan on moving often from site to site. Blinds vary greatly in how easy they are to transport and set up. If your site is semi-permanent, portability is not as big an issue.
Location, Location, Location
Just as in real estate, location is everything in hunting from a blind. Of course, you could say the same thing about any kind of hunting. You’ll want a high traffic location where you can blend in to your environment. That means finding appropriate cover. The best camouflaged cover in the world will stand out if it’s in an open field. Try to add bushes and/or tree branches to enhance the natural look and feel. If possible walk the area before you hunt it. Look for food supplies, cover and routes between the two. If possible, set up your blind a week or so before the actual hunt. That way the deer will get used to it.
But there is also an advantage to a portable blind. It lets you take into account prevailing winds so you don’t give away your scent. Try to identify several good areas for the blind and then you can set up in the best one for that day’s wind patterns.
Location and blending in are also important for duck blinds. You want to be on or near the water in an area you know ducks will be present. A high vegetation area will help attract ducks and will also help you camouflage the blind. You can cover the blind in camouflage netting to match the area, and cut a slit in the front where you are going to shoot.
Ultimately, the ducks will tell you how well your blind is set up. If circling ducks tend to fly away from your blind, you need to make some changes.
Tree stands are another effective way to hunt deer. Their height gives you better visibility while preventing the deer from seeing you. While they may not be as comfortable as a blind, they give you clearer shots by allowing you to shoot over limbs and branches. There are four types of stands:
Ladder – Essentially a small platform at the top of some steps. Great for people who don’t want to climb and/or are insecure at height. Stable, but also heavy, not very portable and take time to set up.
Climbing – Involves two pieces, a chair and a platform below it. Allows you to ‘climb’ the tree while in the stand. Portable and easy to set up, but only for certain trees and for people comfortable at heights.
Hang-on (Lock-on) – This has a seat and footrest attached to the tree. Popular because of their versatility, they are lightweight, easy to set up and will fit most trees. The disadvantage is you have to carry the steps and climb the tree.
Tower – Not a stand, per se, but a separate platform with 3 or 4 legs. It’s necessary in areas without trees. It’s the only real alternative in prairie-like environments. It is comfortable and stable, but not at all portable.
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