Increasingly popular blinds provide advantages for hunters
Perceptions have changed when it comes to ground blinds.
The numbers tell the tale.
Once a poor second to tree stands, pop-up blinds have grown in popularity among hunters, with sales very good for the last half decade or longer, said Jake Edson, spokesman for Primos Hunting.
“They're a pretty long-lasting product, say five to 10 years, so if sales are even steady year to year, that tells you their popularity is pretty strong,” Edson said.
It's no wonder why, say their proponents.
Ground blinds are perfect for those hunting with children, said Josh Lantz, spokesman for Ameristep hunting blinds. They're great for those who can't or don't want to climb trees. They're mobile, offer concealment and keep you dry if hunting in the rain, too.
Most importantly, they work for taking deer and other game.
“To me, if you're a serious deer hunter, the more tools you have in the tool box you have, the better off you are. And a good ground blind is another option for when you need it,” said Carl Drake, a pro staffer with Hunter's Specialties.
Many times, he said, they've saved the day when hunting a food plot or field and deer just won't come close enough to his tree stand to offer a shot.
He's put out a ground blind, maybe at the other end of the field or at least closer to where bucks are traveling. More than once, he said, that's allowed him to fill his tag.
“I put out that ground blind, let it sit for a few days, and suddenly I could kill that buck because it put me within 30 or 40 yards of that deer,” he said.
“You can plop that ground blind up and hunt deer you've patterned from your tree stand, so to speak,” agreed Lantz.
To be successful using a ground blind, though, hunters first have to make sure they get the proper one. Several considerations factor into that.
First, consider how easy it is to use, Drake said.
“Is it something that's going to take 10 or 15 minutes to set up? Or is it something you can take it out, pop it up and go? For me, it's got to be one that's easy to set up,” he said.
Second, consider size and how many people will be in it.
“If you're going to have more than one person in there, you need to make sure it's big enough that you can both be comfortable,” Lantz said.
A two-person blind should be 55 to 59 inches wide, he said. If that blind is taller rather than shorter, all the better, especially in archery season, he added. Then, hunters inside can stand to shoot.
Third, think about windows, Edson said.
He doesn't open every window in his blind when in the woods. Keeping at least one, like the back window, closed might limit visibility a bit, but that's more than offset by keeping weather out and scent in. It also prevents hunters inside from being silhouetted, he said.
What's most important, though, is where the windows are located. Think about their height in relation to whether you'll be standing or sitting when shooting, he said.
“You have to be cognizant of the muzzle of your gun and your arrow. An arrow especially, when leaving your blind, is going to be about 4 inches below your sight line,” he said.
If the window is too small, or too low in relation to your shooting position, you may end up shooting through the blind wall, he noted.
Drake likes windows that are held closed by magnets better than ones utilizing zippers or especially Velcro.
“If I'm sitting there and realize, ‘Oh shoot, I forgot to open one of my windows,' and you have to pull on Velcro, it makes a horrible noise,” Drake said.
Fourth, and speaking of sitting, it pays to have a comfortable seat, said Lantz. He likes one without arms that swivels. He can sit in it for a long time and adjust his position without making noise if he needs to shoot.
A tall chair, almost like a bar stool, is often best for children, as it gets their bow or firearm up to window level, Edson added.
Fifth and last, look for a blind that has an orange cap, Lantz said. Pennsylvania regulations say blinds used during firearms deer seasons must have 100 square inches of orange visible in a 360-degree arc within 15 feet of the blind.
An orange cap meets that safety requirement, Lantz said.
“Plus, you don't want anyone walking in on you,” he said.
Get the right blind, one that meets all of your needs, and it can be a game changer, Edson said. That's especially true now, early in the season.
“It's amazing the amount of movement they conceal. You could almost dance a jig in there, and deer won't see you at 20 yards,” he said.
“That's important to any hunter, but especially an archery hunter who's on the ground.”