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Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ground blinds can offer advantages when hunting deer and turkey

Portable, pop-up camouflage ground blinds offer several advantages when bowhunting deer and wild turkeys.

Portable ground blinds are light, set up and takedown in minutes and come with a cloth bag with shoulder straps so they can be carried into the field. They can be made to blend into any terrain, such as brushy fencerow, woods or overgrown fields, Just add leafy hardwood branches, cedar boughs or grass to “brush in” and break the blind’s outline.

Ground blinds blend into any terrain making them perfect for early season hunting (Photo by Art Lander Jr.)

One of the real advantages of a ground blind is the ability of hunters to be concealed in an area that offers very little natural cover.

When bow hunting deer, the blind must be brushed, or deer will be spooked. The blind has to blend into the surroundings or it will be noticeable to them from a considerable distance. If possible set up your ground blind a few days before you start hunting and brush it in, so that deer will get used to seeing it.

When bowhunting wild turkeys, brushing the blind is not as critical, but since Kentucky’s archery season for deer and the fall archery season for wild turkey run concurrently, it makes sense to be ready, just in case. Setting up a ground blind within bow range of a recently-seeded forage field provides an opportunity for a shot at both deer and wild turkeys.

An advantage of ground blinds is there’s plenty of room to take a friend or family member along to share the hunt or film the action. Hunters can sit side-by-side, which makes ground blinds ideal for mentoring youth or someone new to hunting.

In the dark interior of the blind a hunter can relax, sip water, eat a snack, and get away with quiet conversation or subtle movements.

When selecting a ground blind read the specifications carefully, including floor space, height, and visibility. Floor space is important if you are planning on having more than one person in the blind.

Archers should select a blind that has enough room to draw their bow, maneuver around to aim and clearance to shoot. The ideal bow for hunting from a ground blind is shorter, about 30 inches axle-to-axle.

Before hunting, set up your ground blind in the yard and make sure the seat you plan to use is adjusted to the proper height so you can shoot out of the blinds’ windows. Seats that swivel are worth their added cost since the hunter can quickly and quietly move a full 180 degrees into position to shoot.

The dark interior of ground blinds allow hunters to get away with subtle movements not possible when hunting out in the open. (Photo by John Lander)

Practice shooting your bow out of the ground blind. Shooting accurately from a seated position takes practice and is much different from shooting while standing.

It’s sometimes difficult to judge distances while hunting from the ground so a range finder comes in handy. Range several points of reference, where shots are most likely to occur. A single pin, adjustable bow sight is ideal for this situation. Early and late in the day bow hunters may have issues with flat light and a darkened sight picture, so it helps to use a large diameter peep sight, which will allow you to have a wider and brighter field of view while aiming.

Light and wind can also create issues with ground blinds. Position the blind so that the sun is at your back and the wind is in your face. If the blind is facing east in the morning or west in the afternoon, the sun will be in your eyes and deer will be able to easily see inside the blind. Despite the fact that a pop-up portable blind will keep your dry in rain and shield you somewhat from wind, your scent can be detected by deer if they are downwind.

Wear camouflage clothing head to toe, but since the interior of a ground blind is black, it makes sense to wear black clothing on your upper body so you will be able to hide in the shadows. A black hoodie, black face mask or black cap will help conceal you inside the blind.

There’s a wide variety of ground blinds on the market today. Here are links to two of the top companies:

• For Primos Hunting, visit www.primos.com

• For Ameristep, visit www.ameristep.com

Bowhunting from the ground is both exciting and challenging. You’ll not soon forget an eye-to-eye, up-close encounter. It’s a test of nerves and skill to draw on a deer or wild turkey and make the shot.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

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