First things first, you need to purchase a blind. Seek out the features that are important to you. Are you a gun hunter or archery hunter? Different blinds accommodate different methods. Size, height, windows, even the camouflage pattern is important. I use a BlackOut Stealth Hunter 5 Ground Blind from Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. It has a footprint of 54”x54”, walls that are 63.5” high and a center height of 76”. It’s really spacious giving me room to bring along several people if I want. For bow hunting there is plenty of room to draw, and for firearm hunters plenty of swinging room. Find a blind that does everything you need it to do. Once you purchase, it’s time to setup.
#1. Pop open the blind in your backyard, before you ever head to the field. Use this opportunity to spray it down with a waterproofing silicone spray you can get at about any hardware store. Spray down the roof of your blind really well, all the seams and even the walls. While this doesn’t make your blind completely impervious to moisture, it helps shed rain and keep you drier inside. Leave your blind out in your yard for a few days to allow the smell of the silicone to dissipate before you take it afield. Letting it sit outside for a few days will also help the factory smell wear off a bit.
#2. Get the ground ready. Once you put a blind down the vegetation underneath it will die, dry up and crunch under your feet every time you step into your blind. That’s why I like to clear the ground before setting up. Using a weedeater, I buzz down all the vegetation directly beneath the blind and rake out any loose leaves, twigs and more. Once I have a quiet floor, I can begin setting up.
#3. Once you have your location ready, pop up your blind and situate it with the main windows in the most advantageous direction. When you have it properly situated, it’s time to stake your portable hunting cabin down. Most pop up blinds come with small stakes to hold your blind down. However, in many cases these are largely ineffective when they have to contend with strong winds. I ditch the included stakes and opt for hefty galvanized or rebar anchors, one in each corner. I also bring along a good length of rope and four extra anchors, so I can tie the blind down to the ground or existing vegetation for extra stability. Blinds will fly like kites in windy conditions, protect your investment and do a good job staking them down. In total, I have 8 anchor points on my ground blind as I live in an area where it’s not uncommon to have 30-50 mph winds or more on a pretty frequent basis.
#4. If at all possible, it’s nice to get your blinds out early so that wildlife has a chance to get used to something new within their territory. However, if it’s not possible it’s ok, this is where brushing in your blind becomes even more important. Hiding it well, using natural vegetation will help ease the anxieties of wary animals. A big cube standing out like a sore thumb will be a deterrent. Many blinds offer built in loops and straps to help you attach brush to your blind. If you don’t have any, or lack enough of them to brush in effectively, then use some rope. Running 2 to 3 lengths of rope, one at the top, one at the bottom and one strategically placed in the middle where it doesn’t impede windows all the way around your blind, much like tying ribbon on a package, these ropes will provide you with a place to weave brush in and out of all the way around your blind effectively breaking up the shape.
Although you are hunting from a blind that will conceal your presence to an extent, that doesn’t give you a free ticket to hunt carelessly. A ground blind certainly aids in hiding you and your movement, but it doesn’t make you invisible. Move as far back in your blind as possible, don’t sit right in the window. The further back you are, the more you are shadowed by the dark interior and that helps mask your movements.
Food for thought, many hunters dress in camo from head to toe and if you are hunting from a treestand, leaning up against a tree, spot and stalk hunting or are otherwise in the open, then camo is the way to go. However, when hunting from a ground blind the interior is dark, so wearing a dark colored sweatshirt or jacket, hat and gloves, is the way to go.
Think about the exposed skin on your hands and face. Wearing gloves and a face mask or face paint help to conceal what would otherwise be a bright spot within your dark blind. Because your face and hands move frequently as you glass and watch animals, they can easily blow your cover so be sure to take steps to conceal them. Along the same lines, make sure your barrel isn’t too shiny. If you have your gun in the window, a shiny barrel and the glare of a scope can also be beacons to your location.
When it comes to comfortable accommodations, picking out a blind chair can actually be kind of tricky. A standard collapsible folding lawn chair often sits too low or reclines you too far back. The ideal blind chair has a back and sits completely upright – no reclining. It also has no arm rests or fold away arm rests – they can really get in the way and impede your movements when it counts. Swivel chairs, while not necessary, are great. My blind provides a 280-degree field of view and the ability to swivel silently is fantastic. There are plenty of solid options out there, I use the Cabela’s Comfort Max 360 Mag Elite Blind Chair or just a simple 5-gallon bucket with swivel lid like the Cabela’s Bucket & Seat Combo.
Having a portable, pop-up ground blind in your arsenal of hunting tools is an asset. If you don’t already have one, it might be time to change that!