A short Guide to the Hunting Blind
Today we are going to take a good look at the hunting blind. The types of hunting blinds available and how they differ, the pros and cons, and other helpful details.
For recreational hunters, concealment can be achieved by using a purposed cover device as a blind, for example, using a camouflaged curtain fastened between two trees allows the hunter to hide behind it and observe the grazing game.
This cover device used by hunters to conceal their presence and minimize chances of detection is called a hunting blind. As expected, the use of this blind during blind hunting requires the hunter to be stationary when shooting.
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Hunting blinds can be mobile or fixed to the hunting site
The earliest hunting blind was called the cocking-cloth, and it was nothing more than a hand-held kite frame outfitted with canvas that had see-through holes and a shooting hole.
It served to conceal the head and upper body of the hunter when (s)he approached the pheasant (a bird game) and then shot it through the shooting hole.
Nowadays, hunting blinds are large, and some are used as enclosures for box deer stands and this allows the hunter to move inside the deer stand without fear of being seen by the game.
If the hunting blind is a makeshift frame secured to the ground, and onto which is draped a sheet of fabric, then it is called a ground blind.
Unlike the tree stand, the ground blind keeps the hunter on the ground and concealment is afforded by the framed, and often camouflaged, fabric.
As expected, this ground blind can be used in place of a box deer stand. In fact, ground blinds should be used in places where climbing is prohibited, or when climbing poses unnecessary risks to the hunter (for example, during inclement weather).
Regarding complexity, the ground blind can range – in terms of construction design – from a framed camouflaged fabric fastened to trees or boughs, to a camouflaged hunting tent, and even to the complex wheeled camouflaged hunting tent.
Makeshift ground blind can be fashioned from a frame onto which is attached native vegetation (twigs and leaves), and this is best described as a hide.
The ground blind usually needs to be setup close to food or water sources, or gaming trails, as this maximizes the probability of game being around the shooting range of the hunter.
Likewise, it should be located in a place where the scent of the hunter is blown away from the game, and it is for this reason that there exists a mobile hide that the hunter can move (it) around depending on the wind direction.
Still, like the primitive cocking-cloth, the ground blind needs to have openings for shooting and seeing the field. It is the size of these sight openings that determine the range of visibility of the hunter, that is, how much of the field can the hunter see when inside the blind.
When building any ground blind, there are 3 issues that one needs to balance: mobility, durability, and cost.
One can build a large blind cheaply because (s)he used cheap materials, but these materials make it heavy, immobile, and short-lived.
In relation, building a durable ground blind costs a lot, with cost increasing if mobility is factored. On the other hand, using few cheap materials to build a mobile hide results in an unsafe and fugacious ground blind.
Therefore, one must seek a balance of cost, durability, and mobility when assessing any ground blind model.
Ground blinds are suited for hunting birds such as turkeys and ducks. They can also be used to hunt grazing game in open fields.
Relatedly, because they can be used in different hunting and terrain settings, their construction must feature adaptation to these settings, and this has led to production of different types of ground blinds.
Types of Ground Blinds
There are 3 main types of blinds, each built to fit specific hunting needs.
This is the simplest design of ground blind. It is made up of 3 or more stakes or vertical posts – sometimes driven to the ground – and then draped over by fabric that features a cut-out for shooting.
The posts can be joined together by horizontal bars or scaffolds so as to create a frame that can house the hunter.
The fabric can be camouflaged material or reflective material. The reflective material is usually plastic fabric layered with reflective coating so that the ground adjacent to the blind is reflected onto the fabric, and this improves concealment.
Basically, reflective material acts as a low-grade mirror that displays the image of the adjacent ground on the fabric, and this allows the blind to blend into the background.
Usually, this blind lacks a roof, or top cover, hence its designation as an open blind. Still, in some models, a detachable camouflaged umbrella provides a roofed enclosure.
The fully set-up blind needs to be lightweight for the hunter to easily lift it up and walk with it when tracking the game.
As expected, this type is usually designed to be lightweight and portable so as to allow for fast hunting.
Affordability is also another advantage as compared to the other 2 types
However, its construction design suffers 2 key demerits: cheap construction offers a temporary ground blind solution that cannot hold up well to the weather, and is also less durable than the other types of ground blinds.
This is basically a collapsible camouflaged hunting tent without supporting ropes. Its frame is made of springy metal that allows the user to roll, fold and nest it for storage; and when needed, just open it and watch it pop-up to become a ground blind.
For this reason, it is also called the spring type ground blind.
This type is basically a roofed open blind whose springy frame is made of metal, usually spring steel which can be tempered.
Like the open blind, it is draped in camouflaged fabric with cutouts for shooting and viewing the field. Likewise, it is lightweight.
In fact, some models are very lightweight that they can be carried away by strong wind currents, and for this reason, the hunter needs to stake them into the ground.
In most pop-up models, the elastic steel frame is sewn into the fabric, and a release mechanism is built into the frame to hold it (the flexible frame) in a folded position. Some models feature pop-up cloth hampers.
As expected, it is easy to set up this blind and thereafter fold it and carry it to a different hunting spot.
On the downside, the need to use springy metal requires the fabric to be lightweight (and if possible, elastic), and this necessitates use of thin (usually non-coated) fabrics that can degrade rapidly if continuously exposed to the elements, such as sunshine, moisture, and wind.
This blind is suitable for shoreline duck hunting, turkey hunting, and any other hunting situation that requires the blind to be used for a short duration. Normally, its continuous use should be limited to a maximum of 2 nights.
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This is a premium upgrade of the pop-up blind. It features heavy-duty poles fitted to hubs made of metal or plastic.
Its poles, hubs, and arms form the frame onto which is draped the fabric. This frame pops out and allows the arms to open in an accordion-style or scissor-style manner, and then lock into place and hold the blind so that the hunter can fit in and use it. It is also called a frame blind.
Unlike pop-up models that have thin fabrics, the feature-rich hub-style blind is durable, bulky, and has heavy fabric that allows the hunter to leave it out for more than 2 days. In fact, it can be deployed continuously for an entire season.
As expected, it is more expensive than the pop-up blind.
Its frame is made from fiberglass or metal, and can be disassembled. Hence, it takes more effort to set up the frame blind as compared to the pop-up blind.
Hub-style blinds can be used for deer hunting.
Basic construction design
The explanation of the 3 types of ground blinds reveal that all types share a basic construction design.
This in turn shows that ground blinds are made of basic parts. These parts are explained briefly hereafter.
Parts of a Ground Blind
This is support framework that holds up the ground blind in place, and gives it shape. The number of vertical poles used and their emplacement to create the frame determines how many walls the ground blind has, as well as determines the size of the blind depending on the spacing between the vertical poles and individual pole height.
This is draped over the frame to form a complete ground blind. There are cut-outs made to allow the hunter to view the field and shoot the game, and these cut-outs are called windows.
The size, location, and number of windows determine how much of the field the hunter can see. In some models, the windows are fitted with mesh fabric to improve camouflage and prevent insects from entering into the blind.
Some of the window mesh are roll-up mesh that can be rolled up to allow the hunter shoot the game, while others are detachable shoot-through mesh that are attached to the fabric by Velcro strips. Shoot-through mesh allows the hunter to shoot an arrow through it.
Even so, instead of shooting the arrow through the mesh, it is better to remove the mesh and then shoot and thereafter re-attach it.
Entrance, Storage & Comfort
In pop-up and hub-style ground blinds, storage pockets and pouches are sewn to the fabric, and this allows the hunter to easily store and reach stakes and hunting gear when hunting.
So how does one close the entrance after entering the blind? The 2 commonest ways to do this is by zipping the fabric, or by fastening the fabric together using Velcro strips.
A common addition in the ground blind is the seat. This allows the hunter to be seated when waiting for the game, or when observing or shooting it.
Because the chair is inside the ground blind, it is not a must for the chair to be camouflaged. Even so, the seat takes up space inside the blind and this limits the number of people that can be concealed by the blind.
The simplicity of the ground blind design allows the hunter to easily set it up, use, maintain, and configure it to suit different hunting needs. So, what does the hunter need to do to get the most out of the ground blind?
Using a Ground Blind
It is evident that the ground blind is a collapsible shelter whose walls and roof are made of camouflaged fabric(s).
Likewise, its walls feature windows. To get the most out of this blind, the hunter needs to do the following:
A portable seat can be placed inside the ground blind.
The hunter needs to clear the ground/floor of debris to avoid stepping on dry vegetation and twigs which can create noise when they are broken under the weight of human feet.
Even so, after using the ground blind, there is need to cover the floor with native vegetation so as to minimize the chances that other hunters and game will know that one was there.
Sometimes, the hunter may need to apply camouflage face make-up or use camouflaged head nest, and wear camouflaged gloves.
If possible, the hunting clothes need to match the camouflage of the blind so that the hunter does not stick out from the blind when the game looks at him/her through an open window.
It is best to leave the shooting windows open. This is because the game can notice that the appearance of the well-camouflaged blind is changing because of constant opening and closing of the window, and this automatically heightens their suspicion and makes them wary of the area.
If you are hunting as members of an archery team, with each team member setting up his/her own ground blind in different areas of the hunting field, then it is imperative that one knows the location of the other members so that (s)he does not shoot at their blinds.
If the ground blind is hit by an arrow that fails to penetrate its fabric, it will shake because of the impact of the arrow and this will alert the game of the presence of hunters. If the arrow penetrates the fabric, then serious human injury can result.
Featured Image: USFWSmidwest / Public domain