10 Things To Consider When Choosing Your First Hunting Blind
A top-quality hunting blind can allow you to get more and better shots at deer and turkey than you’ve ever had before.
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The outstanding eyesight of game animals—particularly deer and turkeys—requires successful hunters to be well hidden to get their quarry within range. That’s where a good hunting blind comes into play. By hunting from the right blind placed in the right spot, hunters can greatly increase their deer and turkey hunting success, yielding both more fun and more meat in the freezer. However, the wide variety of hunting blinds on the market, along with all the different features they offer, can make choosing the perfect blind quite a chore. When shopping for your first hunting blind, consider 10 important factors critical to making a good selection.
Hunting blinds typically are available in two basic types—hard-sided permanent blinds or soft-sided portable ground blinds. Permanent blinds are generally quite heavy and are made to set up and leave in one place throughout the season. They are very sturdy, warm during cold weather and often placed on towers for elevated hunting. Soft-sided ground blinds are made for quickly setting up where you want to hunt, then taking down to move them to another hunting spot when you are done. For ground blinds, there are two main types—pop-up blinds and hub blinds. Hub-style blinds are usually a little heavier and harder to transport, but are very easy to set up and take down. Pop-up blinds are light and many have backpack straps on their storage cases for easy transport, but can be very difficult to take down to the size necessary to repack without a good bit of practice and patience.
The size of the blind you will need will largely depend on several factors. If you’ll be hunting by yourself, a fairly small blind will serve you fine. That is, unless you are hunting with a compound bow or recurve, in which case you need a taller blind if you want to stand while shooting and a deeper/wider blind so your elbows aren’t hitting the walls when you draw back your bow. If you plan to hunt with another person—or maybe even two—a blind with extra room inside will allow everyone to sit in it more comfortably. For most purposes, the smallest blind you can comfortably hunt out of without feeling cramped and with enough room to ready your weapon for a shot will serve you best, since smaller blinds are easier to conceal and harder for animals to see.
The species you plan to hunt—deer, turkey or both—might also make a difference in which blind you choose. Some deer can be very spooky around ground blinds, especially when the blind is first put in place or if it is not “brushed in” well. Turkeys are just the opposite—often they’ll walk within a few feet of a blind without paying it any mind at all. If you’re planning to hunt only turkey, pick a small blind that’s easy to set up, take down and transport since you’ll be doing a lot more running around. For deer, go with a blind that has better camouflage and is easy to tuck away and brush in. If you’ll be hunting both, choose the blind you would for hunting deer, since there’s no such thing as being too well hidden from a turkey, even if they seldom notice ground blinds.
Whether you will primarily be hunting with a firearm or a bow will also be a factor in determining what blind is best for you. For bowhunting, it’s best to have a blind that you can stand up in. Sure, you can shoot from a sitting position, but unless you practice it a lot you probably won’t make as good of shot as you would while standing. For gun or crossbow hunting, a smaller blind will work fine, but you need to be sure the windows are low enough that you can comfortably shoot through them while sitting in a chair using shooting sticks for a rest. If you’ll be hunting with a firearm and a bow during different seasons, opt for the blind you would choose for bowhunting only. That will allow you to easily shoot your bow out of it, and the extra room certainly won’t hurt for gun hunting.
Hunting blinds come with wide variety of window configurations. Some have lots of big windows, some only a few small ones. Remember this: If you have lots of big windows open at the same time, you’re much more likely to be seen by the animal you are hunting than if you have just a few open. That said, you can always leave some of the windows closed or only partially open, so lots of windows isn’t a disadvantage. If you’ll be bowhunting, vertical windows set in places where you will be sitting or standing to shoot are very convenient. Again, gun hunters must be sure they have windows they can comfortably shoot through while sitting on whatever chair they’ll be using and resting their gun on shooting sticks or another stable rest. If you’ll be bowhunting or crossbow hunting, look for a blind that has shoot-through material to cover the windows.
Since your hunting blind will be set up in the woods or a field, camouflage is very important. Otherwise, it will just look like a big, out-of-place blob in the field or forest. Luckily, blinds come in a wide variety of camo patterns. When shopping for a blind, select one with a camouflage pattern that will blend in well in the area you’ll be hunting most. For fooling a deer, however, that probably won’t be enough to ensure success. Always tuck your blind away in a place that is as unnoticeable as possible but will still allow you to be close enough to where you expect game to appear that you have a good shot. Then use limbs, sticks and other materials around the outside of your blind, and on top, to break up the blind’s outline. Doing so will typically yield more success.
There are few things more irritating than sitting in a hunting blind during prime time and having water dripping down the back of your neck while you wait for a big buck or gobbler. That’s why you should make sure any blind you purchase has a waterproof outer surface that will keep you dry during wet-weather hunts. If you purchase a blind that isn’t waterproof or doesn’t keep you as dry as you like, you can treat the exterior with a waterproofing spray to ensure it keeps moisture out. Heck, even if you buy a waterproof blind, it doesn’t hurt to spray it down good with waterproofing material before using it for the first time. When it is cold and wet out, you can never be too dry. Make sure you air out your blind after waterproofing it, however, to ensure the odor doesn’t spook deer from your area.
Stability is important since you never know what the weather or other conditions will bring. No portable ground blind is going to hold up to a tree falling on it or other similar catastrophes, but they should hold up to a very strong wind without a lot of swaying or flapping. Hub style blinds are usually more stable than pop-ups, especially if they get a lot of snow on them. Both usually have stakes for staking them down and line for staking them tight from the outside, too. Don’t skip staking your ground blind just because the weather is good and you don’t think you need to do so. Weather conditions can change quickly in the fall and winter, and sitting in a blind that’s shaking and flapping is a futile effort since the movement and noise will scare away any game animal in the area.
For on-the-go hunters who move around a lot—run-and-gun turkey hunters, in particular—a big piece of camo blind material fabric might be more handy than a hunting blind. Whether using nylon fabric, burlap or mesh, any hunter with a little ingenuity and a couple of limbs can quickly construct a pretty good blind in only a few minutes. This is particularly handy when running and gunning for gobblers. If you strike your box call and get a thunderous gobble only a few hundred yards away, you can find a good place to sit, fashion a quick makeshift blind and be hunting much more quickly than if you had to unpack a ground blind and set it up. When you’re ready to move on, quickly roll up your camo material, put it in your backpack and be on your way to your next hunting spot.
Extra features can make some blinds more useful. Blinds with black interiors are better than those without since they enable hunters to not be silhouetted in the blind, thereby spooking game animals. As mentioned earlier, blinds with removable mesh for the windows can conceal you better than ones with windows that must be all the way open or all the way closed. Windows with quiet zippers are also preferable. Velcro is handy for keeping window materials in place but can be very noisy when installed and removed, so make sure you can shoot without a lot of Velcro ripping noise involved. Some blinds have loops on the outside for holding brush and limbs in place, making brushing in the blind easier. Blinds with interior storage pockets to put stakes and your storage bag in are also handy, since after the hunt you won’t have to fiddle around looking for them in the dark.
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