Opening morning of this year’s bowhunting season, and nothing seemed to go right. I set two alarms for 5 a.m., which would give me plenty of time to get into the woods an hour before sunrise. Somehow I slept through both and got up 45 minutes late. Rushing out (no time even for coffee), I was glad I’d packed everything the night before. My first secret weapon was on the cargo shelf behind my vehicle: a 15-speed mountain bike. It was a large conservation area, crowded on opening day, so I wanted to get away from the crowd. In half an hour, I was three miles from the parking lot and confident I’d left all the other hunters behind.
After leaving the trail on foot, I pressed deeper into the woods to a spot I’d pinpointed on the maps. It was near a sandbar that deer used to cross to the conservation area after a night of feeding on the crops of nearby farms. Here, I broke out my second secret weapon: a portable pop-up ground blind.
Why to Hunt from a Blind?
Using ground blinds for bow hunting offers some key advantages:
- Insect protection. Early season in Missouri is brutal because of mosquitoes, which swarm the would-be hunter the moment he enters the woods. My absolute favorite thing about hunting from a blind is that it keeps the bugs away (and covers my movement as I swat occasional interlopers). Especially when I lit up my Thermacell mosquito repellent inside the blind.
- Quick, quiet setup. Like many ground blinds, my Ameristep Doghouse has a spring-steel quick setup. You take it out of the bag, it pops open, you make two unfolds, and the blind is up. It’s so much faster and quieter than installing a tree stand! So you can set up when you’re out hunting, and move quickly between locations.
- 360-degree camo coverage. Whether it’s Realtree AP, Mossy Oak Break-up, or some other pattern, your blind immediately offers full camouflage. Within seconds I was totally hidden from view, waiting in ambush. Perhaps most importantly for bow hunting, the blind covers my drawing motion from keen-eyed game such as wild turkey.
- Weather protection. Weather during opening day was pretty mild, but I’m absolutely thrilled about the protection a blind offers from the two weather-related banes of my hunting existence: wind and rain. It’s not completely windproof or waterproof, especially if you leave a shooting window open, but it’s a lot better than no protection at all. Some hunters will even bring a small camp heater and keep that in the blind.
Ground Blinds for Bow Hunting
There are a lot of ground blinds for different kinds of hunting — such as the chair-sized blind for bird hunting. But bowhunting from a blind requires a fair bit of room to move inside. That’s why it’s important to choose a blind that’s big enough (both height and width). Some are only for gun hunting and won’t let you come to full draw. So here I’ll review a few blinds that can be used for bowhunting.
Early Season Blind Hunts
I bought a ground blind to use in early bowhunting season, particularly for some public land in North-central Missouri. It’s not a place I can really bring my tree stand, and it’s home to a flock of turkeys I’ve been chasing for a couple of years. A pop-up ground blind was appealing: easy to transport, something to hide me from the wraparound binocular vision that turkeys are constantly employing to bust me in the woods.
My blind weighs 14 pounds, and it comes in a nice nylon backpack (which was black; I’d have preferred camo). I took it for a dry run in the backyard so I was sure I could set it up and take it down. It was actually easier than I’d read in the reviews, maybe because my kids have pop-up tents that are similar. I took the opportunity to spray it down with my homemade scent neutralizer, because new blinds do have a factory smell to them.
In the turkey woods, early Saturday morning. I bumped one bird off of roost sneaking in. Not wanting to bump the others, I snuck a few yards up the ridge to my left and set up. The blind was up in about thirty seconds. I love being able to duck into it and then get situated, hidden and muffled from the waking woods. And the bugs, for that matter. I saw several turkeys and deer that morning; including a bird that was still roosted almost overhead and a gobbler that walked behind me at around 35 yards. Nothing I could shoot, but none of them spotted me in the blind. I have a feeling the deer (a doe and three fawns) picked up my scent, though, so don’t assume that using a blind is scent-proof.
Hunting Blind Accessories
Ground blinds take a bit of getting used to, if you normally hunt from a tree stand. It made me wish for a couple of small conveniences. Trust me, these items that will make your ground blind hunt much more comfortable.