By Cole Daniels
Ground blinds are becoming increasingly popular among turkey hunters. Blinds are an absolute must for archery hunters. But shotgun turkey hunters are also using them more today than ever before. Manufacturers and designers are making ground blinds lighter and easier to set up. They are great for hunting in areas without cover and for hunting in the rain or wind. While the advantages outweigh the shortcomings, there are a few things to be aware of before heading out for a ground blind turkey adventure.
The first step is finding the right blind. Do you hunt by yourself or plan to hunt with a partner? Are you interested in filming hunts? Will children be along for the hunt? If hunting alone, a large blind isn’t necessary. One-person blinds are less expensive and lighter than larger, two man blinds. Shoot through screens are awesome for archery hunters. If you hunt with a youngster, it’s nice to have see through mesh windows. These allow them to see what is going on while concealing their movement. On the other hand, you will want the windows to open wide if you plan to bring a video camera along.
Waterproof material may not be important to hunters in arid regions. But most of us are going to want a waterproof blind. Being sheltered is one of the great advantages to hunting out of a ground blind. However, most ground blinds don’t have a floor. There will be a roof overhead, but the ground is still going to be wet so plan accordingly.
Before hunting with your new blind, be sure to mud it up. Waterfowlers regularly do this with their coffin blinds before they hunt. Mudding up a blind is exactly what it sounds like. Set up the blind, make some mud, and wipe down the entire blind with it. Four or five handfuls should do the whole thing. The goal is to take the sheen off the fabric. Even though it’s camouflage, the sun will produce a glare on new fabric. You might as well be hunting in an aluminum Airstream camper. Leave the mud on for a day or two and then just brush off what is left with your hand.
If it’s possible, set the blind up in your hunting spot a few days early. Some states don’t allow unattended blinds on public land, so read the regulations before doing this. Like tree stands, blinds have a habit of disappearing into the back of other people’s trucks, even on private land. Ground stakes are a necessity as well. I’ve witnessed a few blinds tumbling across a corn field. There is some risk involved but this strategy can pay off. If wildlife become used to the blind, it will just become part of their natural habitat.
While an early setup can help, I’ve killed birds out of blinds that were slung over my shoulder a few hours before pulling the trigger. After popping the blind up, use natural brush to help it blend into the habitat. Branches and weeds can make a blind disappear. On public land use deadfalls. Many states don’t allow cutting trees on public land.
The most important tip for hunting out of a ground blind is to be on the “X”. Sometimes setting up a blind in the middle of a field with no cover is the best strategy. I’ve seen hunters place their blinds in a fence line to take advantage of trees to break up their outline. Usually, they end up calling to turkeys who have no interest in paying them a visit. Instead of asking them to come to you, go where the turkeys want to go. In my experience, being out in the open where turkeys regularly travel or feed is more productive than being in cover just off their paths. If you’ve got decoys out and are in the right place, turkeys will often ignore the blind.
Having mobility is vital to my turkey hunting strategy. I usually hunt turkeys with my turkey vest/seat combo while sitting against a tree. Hunting like that gives me the flexibility to run-and-gun. However, in bad weather or when hunting wide open fields, nothing beats a ground blind. Every serious turkey hunter should have one.
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