Choosing a hunting blind, like choosing anything else in life, is all about answering several ‘rightness’ questions.
In terms of hunting blinds, there are three main questions:
What’s right for the hunting zone?
What’s right for the prey? and
What’s right for the hunter?
Within those three questions are a million others, each with answers that are either absolute (facts of nature, facts of biology and the like), or subjective (determined by the experience and preference of the hunter, for instance).
To answer all the questions that apply to hunting blinds would be impossible – you could write an encyclopaedia, only for someone to come along the next minute and say ‘But what about…?’
But here, we’ll try and cover the main points of at least those first two questions, and give some reasonable answers to the third. The absolute answers to what’s right for the hunter of course are for you to answer, every time you go out to pit your wits against nature. What’s right for the hunter, ultimately, is what’s right for you.
Choosing Above Or Below Ground
Which Is Better, A Ground Blind Or An Elevated Blind?
That’s a tricky question that ultimately comes down to your hunting style. Many ground blinds can be carried in and out of the hunting ground, set up quickly, blended to look like they belong in the environment, and can give you a closer experience with the animals you’re hunting.
On the other hand, elevated blinds tend to be more expensive, more permanent structures, which take you out of the visual and scent trail ranges of your prey, allow you a greater perspective on animals in the area, and ultimately probably give you more shots at your targets in any given hunting session because you can pick off particular targets at speed.
What’s The Best Ground Blind Available?
That depends on lots of different factors – weight, size, number in your hunting party, guns versus bows (and the subsequent usefulness of full standing height) etc. While what’s best will depend on what you particularly need from it, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best options around for you.
What’s The Best Elevated Blind Available?
Likewise, that depends what makes your particular hunt effective – whether you want to hunt solo or in a party, whether you’re using bows, guns or both, what kind of weather conditions you’re facing etc. Again, while the ultimate choice of what’s best comes down to what best suits you, we’ve compiled a list of the best available options on the commercial elevated blind market.
You Smell Something?
Do Elevated Blinds Mask Human Scent?
Yes and no. It’s not so much a case that elevated blinds mask the scent of humans within a natural environment, it’s that depending on the level of elevation, they take the scent out of the level on which animals like deer can detect them. It’s also why elevated blinds are less visible than ground blinds – deer live their lives mostly on a ground-level plane. Their predators don’t usually come from above, their food sources are rarely above the level of their stretched neck, so they have less reason to see elevated blinds, or to detect scents coming from higher elevations.
Do Ground Blinds Mask Human Scent?
Only to a degree, and the degree depends on the kind of blind you buy. Hard panelled blinds will likely mask more human scent than loose or fabric panelled ones, but bottom line, you’re a human being. You’re an animal, just like the predators and prey in any natural environment, a collection of smells and tells based on what goes into you and what comes out. If you’re in a prey animal’s environment, a ground blind will certainly put a wall between your scent and theirs, but if your blind is porous to let air in, or if your windows are open to allow you to shoot out, your scent is likely to eek into the animals’ environment. Also, it’s worth noting that if you’re cramped or in hot environments, the amount of scent coming off you will likely be increased, which is something to think about when buying your blind – better air circulation within the blind will help you stay cooler and release less scent to be picked up.
Of course, another option is to give the deer something stronger and more to their scent-taste to pick up on than the human scent, which is why the deer urine market exists. The nose is the deer’s most sensitive organ. Give it what it wants to find at different times in the year, and masking human scent will be less of a problem.
Can I Build My Own Blind?
There’s a great tradition in hunting of building your own blind, whether than be ground, tree stand or elevated. That goes back to some serious backwoods and pioneer tradition, before there was a click-button solution to your blind-supply needs.
Depending on the hunting laws and seasons in your area, you can still build your own if you like, but it’s obviously harder work and may well take longer to complete than simply finding a reputable blind and getting it delivered to you.
How Do I Build My Own Blind?
To some extent, you could argue that if you need to ask that question, you shouldn’t be building your own. But as a first step, decide what you want in your blind – what size, what materials, what elements are vital to your hunt.
An important factor will be whether you’re thinking about building a more permanent blind for yourself, or building a semi-permanent or pop-up. The first is more likely, because if you’re building a pop-up, you also have to consider making it easy to transport to and from the hunting grounds, hopefully on the way back along with several pounds of meat, bone, fur, carcass or antler, depending on your reason for going into wild in the first place.
Once you’ve decided on the kind of blind you want to build, hit the internet. It might not be the way our forefathers did it, but there are plenty of instructional videos on Youtube, there are plans available from any number of how-to resources like Instructables.com and there are plenty of hunting-specific resources like louisianasportsman.com to help you go from the vague idea of ‘I want to build my own hunting blind’ to much more specific ideas about what it will look like, how it will come together, how you’ll transport it, what it will be able to contain, etc. The internet is the friend that can take you from dream to reality if you want to build your own hunting blind. Even the likes of Pinterest can help you narrow the search for the blind you especially want to build, and give you ideas of how to build it. Without knowing your specific requirements, it’d be wasted reading for us to tell you ‘Do this, then this.’ But get the idea of the blind you want to build, find plans, instructions and videos that relate specifically to your needs, and go from there.
What Will It Cost To Build My Own Blind?
While the benefit of building your own blind is that you can build any size and shape of blind you like and fill it with whatever level of comfort, weatherproofing, windows etc you want, the cost of building your own blind will of course depend on the size, the construction materials, the fixtures, fittings, camo-quality, window-choice etc.
You’re going to want to work all this out before you start ordering timber and such, and you’re probably going to want to think about it for at least a season so you can be sure it’s actually worth doing, compared to spending that money on a commercially available blind that does all or most of the things you want it to do.
You should probably also factor in the opportunity cost of your free time spent building your own blind, especially if you have any kind of chores list at home, because any homemade blind has to be worth any and all conversations beginning ‘No, sure, you go build your hunting blind. I’ll just call the roofer to do the thing you said you’d do.’
There’s no bias between the sexes here, that conversation can go any which way but well. Just be sure you factor it in to the actual cost of building your own hunting blind.
There’s also a stronger tradition of building your own in the elevated hunting blind arena, perhaps because by the time you get to invest in an elevated hunting blind, you’re committed to the hunting lifestyle, you’re looking at a year-round investment which probably doesn’t leave the hunting grounds until it’s time to dismantle it and get a new one. As with ground blinds, there are plans available for standard models, which you can customize to your own requirements. Try MyOutdoorPlans.com or Pinterest as first points of contact, and expand from there until you have something that will meet your elevated hunting blind needs.
What’s The Best Blind To Buy?
Ultimately the best blind to buy is the one that matches most of your needs, whatever they might be. We’ve put together a list of great ground blinds, a list of great elevated blinds, and a list of combined blinds for you to choose from according to your hunting needs. We’ve also put together a list of the best blinds for bow hunting, because bow hunters have a whole set of questions and requirements which are unique to their form of hunting.
If you’re in a hurry to get to your ‘buy’ button, our top choice for ground blinds is the Ameristep AMEBL3000 Care Taker Ground Blind, Hubstyle Blind in Realtree Edge.
Our list leader for elevated blinds is the Terrain The Edge 5 Sided Hunting Blind.
And our outright winner for blinds this year is the Rhino Blinds R150 3 Person Hunting Ground Blind
Bottom line on buying a blind – write yourself a set of questions to consider (see below), and use our handy lists of the best on the market to best match your particular needs.
What Questions Should I Be Asking When Buying A Hunting Blind?
If you know you want a hunting blind, but don’t know much more than that, you should write yourself a list of points to consider, or questions to ask. Your own list will be personal to you, but you should probably consider these as a jumping-off point:
- What does your hunting look like? What do you want it to look like? What difference do you want a blind to make?
This is not as straightforward as it might seem, but it boils down to why you want a blind. Are you looking to hunt individually (go smaller), or to have longer, larger hunting parties (larger, obviously)? Are you hunting with a gun or a bow, or both? If a bow, check for things like center height to find out if you can shoot in your normal standing position, and whether you need simple windows or panels of shoot-through mesh.
- What’s your hunting environment like?
Forests? Plains? Snow? They all have an impact on the level of importance of particular features in the blind you should buy – going for one that’s waterproof is almost always a good idea, because rain can sap the spirit out of a hunt faster than almost anything but your buddy Joe’s chewing. But do you need a blind that’s strong enough to withstand ice and snow on the roof? Do you need one with venting to let out heat? Do you need one especially rugged against winds? Look at where you’re going to be hunting, and refine your search accordingly.
- What level of time are you going to spend hunting?
Sounds like a stupid question, but your ability to commit to hunting time plays in to the kind of blind you should be looking for.
Occasional hunting? Pop-up blinds are made with you in mind – light, easy to transport, easy to put up and take down, no hassle after the end of your hunt, you just pack it up and move on out.
More regular hunting with perhaps a bigger party than just yourself? There are some great ground blinds which give you the room to move around and bring some gear and/or a hunting buddy or two.
Season after season where hunting’s a big part of what you do for the time the season lasts? You might be looking at a permanent blind, even maybe an elevated permanent blind, so you don’t have to take your house with you every time you go into the hunting grounds.
- What’s your blind budget?
Serious question. Your blind has to deliver value for money or you’re just meaninglessly stimulating the economy. The more money you spend on it, the more value it needs to add to your hunting experience. What can you afford to spend on a hunting blind? How much wiggle-room is in there, in case the blind of your dreams is outside your actual budget? If you’re shooting for meat and/or sale, how much do you have to successfully shoot from your blind before it pays for itself?
Somewhere in the answers to these questions, your perfect crossing point exists, and at that point, you’ll find the perfect hide for you. At least, for this year…
Should I Buy A Pop-Up Blind?
Unless you’re both pretty rich and pretty committed to hunting as a lifestyle rather than just a hobby, the answer is probably yes. Even if you’re both of those things and have your own permanent or semi-permanent blind, sometimes the startling convenience of a pop-up blind which you take into the hunting ground, pop up, set up, use and take home again will overshadow the solidity of a semi-permanent or permanent blind. In some ways a pop-up feels more like backwoods hunting than the club, cabin or lodge feel of a permanent blind, so why would you not have one?
What Should I Look For In A Pop-Up Blind?
Apart from the things you’d look for in any hunting blind, like good concealment potential, relative comfort, protection from the elements and a viable shooting position for either bow or firearm, the fundamental point of a pop-up blind is that it should be easy to carry, lightweight so as not to encumber the hunter who might well have lots of other gear going into the hunting ground, and after a successful hunt will be carrying extra weight in the prizes of a successful hunt, and easy both to erect and break down, so that tit doesn’t add unnecessary complication to your hunting trip.
How Do I Hide A Ground Blind?
The flippant answer to this of course is ‘You elevate it or hide it up a tree.’
If that seems more flippant than useful, remember, by removing yourself from the animal’s line of sight and scent, you put it at a disadvantage, and by giving yourself a wider range of fire, you put yourself in a much better position to hit your targets. So it’s flippant, certainly, but it’s also annoyingly true.
But in terms of making a ground blind look and smell inconspicuous to target animals, combine your natural predatory instinct with your artistic or creative side. It’s not a great idea to bring anything in from elsewhere to cover or disguise your blind – you want it to register as being just a natural part of ‘here,’ wherever ‘here’ is. So use branches, foliage, mud, sand and whatever else you can find to drape or smear over your blind, to disguise the man-made edges of it, add to the shadow-dappling and cover any of the camo-pattern that especially sticks out as not being from around here.
One thing to remember is that if you using deer urine products as an attractant, you shouldn’t use them actually on your blind, for several increasingly obvious reasons.
- If it’s a pop-up blind and you’re taking it home after the hunt, a blind that smells of deer pee makes you Johnny Solo, friend to no-one.
- If you’re using the deer urine as an attractant, you don’t want the deer to be too attracted to the actual fabric of the blind, in case they’re motivated to fight it, figure it out or…flirt with it.
- Apart from which, if you’re shooting deer and they’re intensely interested in your blind, you’re taking the shot at point blank range, which is a messy approach to venison, and is also going to make you Johnny Solo, friend to no-one on the way back home.
Do Ground Blinds Scare Deer?
They’re deer, they can be scared by an unexpected leaf falling in front of their eyes. Everything in their lives that has sharper teeth than they do wants to kill them, because they’re delicious and/or useful, so yes, deer can be scared by ground blinds, particularly pop-up blinds.
They can be extra-specially freaked out if you put your blind up at just that special moment when they happen to come through a space that had no pop-up blinds in it the last time they came through. To be fair to them, if, say, bears dropped a brand new cave at the bottom of your street and you caught them doing it, you’d be freaked out too.
But yes, deer can be scared by just the presence of a ground blind, simply by virtue of it looking and probably smelling like something unnatural in their otherwise natural habitat. That’s why blindmakers deploy as much camo as they can, and why some of the more successful and popular ones also allow you to cover bits of the blind in natural foliage to make it blend in to the environment.
This is very much a game of two teams. The manufacturers can go so far while keeping the prices reasonable for mass market sales to hunters across the country, but then it’s up to you to sell the illusion that there’s nothing to see here to your target animals. Mud, brush, branches, get creative with it because these are not stupid creatures you’re trying to outwit. They survive as a species despite everything with sharper teeth than them wanting to kill and eat them. Respect their instincts as prey-animals, and do them the honour of being the best predator you can be.
If you’re going to get a ground blind, and a pop-up blind in particular, you’ve got to think like a predator and blend in, otherwise the blind itself is going to look like one of these things that does not belong here, and the deer will have none of it.
Conditions And Fittings
Are Ground Blinds Waterproof?
The right ones are. Hunters are all about getting back to nature, and they’ll suffer if they absolutely have to in order to get the perfect kill. But nobody wants to sit for hours in a non-waterproof blind. If you’re going to do that, you might as well sit in a ditch with mud in your underwear, pouring liquid misery down on your own head.
If you build your own blind, the one thing you absolutely, positively must not do is skimp on the waterproofing, or you’ve just built yourself one hell of an expensive bucket.
If you’re buying your blind from a commercial supplier, waterproofing is just as essential, because without it the blind fails one of the two main tasks it exists to perform: 1. Blend in with the environment to help you get better hunting, and 2. Be more comfortable than hunting without a blind.
If your ground blind isn’t at least waterproof enough for your hunting environment, you’ve just spent your money on a machine to make you miserable for long periods of time, while sitting cradling a firearm or a ballistic bow and waiting for something to kill. Whatever your budget, don’t settle for a blind that’s not waterproof. You know it makes sense. Warm, dry, comfortable sense.
Do I Need A Weatherproof Hunting Blind?
The answer to this question comes through two other questions.
- Is there noticeable weather where you’re hunting?
- Do you want to keep it outside?
As we mentioned with waterproofing, one of the main things a blind exists to do is to make your life more comfortable or tolerable than it would be if you were hunting outside with no blind. So understand the weather and the climate in your hunting grounds. And yes, absolutely, be prepared to pay the extra money for a hunting blind that acknowledges that weather and protects you from it. Baking hot desert territory? As much by way of cooling systems and airflow as possible, please.
Humid swamplands – more cooling systems and airflow, plus in humid swamplands, be sure of the ground where you’re placing your blind, or choose a suitable elevating platform and make sure it’s properly secure.
Severe winds? Think about stronger, more sturdy and perhaps more permanent blinds than some of the flimsier pop-ups on the market if you don’t want to be Dorothy, blown away to Oz.
Icy territory? Check for blinds with sturdy roof-structures, anything by way of natural heating and ideally something like a wooden floor to preserve as much heat as possible over the hours of your hunt.
Ignoring any of this feels like the act of a hunter who’s not prepared to out-think the challenges of their environment, and is therefore doomed to suffer through them like the animals they’re hunting – except the animals have natural defences against the weather, and you don’t. Which gives them the advantage.
If you wouldn’t consider buying a house without appropriate defences against the weather, don’t consider buying a hunting blind that doesn’t have those defences either.
Can You Shoot Arrows Through Shoot-Through Mesh Without Losing Accuracy?
This is a question of whether something that seems too good to be true can actually work in the real world.
Shoot-through mesh on ground blinds is a development that keeps bow-hunters concealed and stops them having to open a window in the blind to get a true aim on their target. It means (if it works) that they can shoot from concealment, improving the likelihood of a successful kill.
But does it work?
Actually, and strangely, yes it does.
Research done by Bowhunting Magazine aimed to settle the question once and for all. The hunters there first took readings of blank shafts through paper and recorded the aim points and hit points of those blank shafts.
Then they fitted broadheads (both mechanical and fixed-blade) to the arrows, replaced the paper with shoot-through mesh and recorded the results.
In the real world, the target you were aiming at would be hit with reasonable accuracy through the shoot-through mesh, though they offered the caution that they trusted the reliability of these results more with the fixed-blade broadheads because with a mechanical set-up there’s always the chance, however remote, of a failed activation after launch, and if it comes to a once-in-a-lifetime shot, that single stellar heartbeat when you hit the ultimate prize or you miss it and then get bitter and touchy and never talk about it again, you wouldn’t want to take the risk – but for reasons that would apply equally if you were shooting through nothing but fresh air, rather than because of any impact of the shoot-through mesh.
Can You Shoot a Rifle Through Shoot-Through Mesh
There are a couple of cautions when shooting a rifle through shoot-through mesh.
Firstly, the manufacturers frequently warn that the mesh itself can become a fire hazard if shot through with a rifle. A bullet is travelling with such speed it’s a small nugget of impressive heat, and that can be unfortunate for anything flammable it touches.
So…something to think about there.
That said, this seems like quite a small risk, and many users shoot through their mesh regularly without any undue effects.
Then there’s the noise. Some users report the noise when shooting through their shoot-through mesh can be agonising for days – which obviously isn’t ideal if you want to carry on hunting. Or even hearing.
And finally, there’s the question of whether you can see your target well enough in your crosshairs through the mesh. Again, users tend to say you can – and that the mesh itself doesn’t degrade the accuracy of your shot. Aim as normal, shoot as normal, and the deer of your choice should drop.
So the answer is yes, you can shoot a rifle through the shoot-through mesh, and no, it doesn’t seem to affect the accuracy of your shot when you do it – but be aware of potential fire and noise hazards in the moment.
Should I Avoid Blinds With Velcro Fastenings?
Velcro is an amazing invention, and it’s helped revolutionize the fastening industry. We’re absolutely not going to tell you you should avoid buying hunting blinds that use Velcro as a fastening for windows, doors and other parts of the blind.
The only real issue with Velcro fastenings is that it’s one of the most uniquely man-made substances on Earth.
That means it sounds like one of the most uniquely man-made substances on Earth. It sounds like nothing in nature. And the animals you’re hunting may well have very finely attuned ears, able to detect the Not-We, the unnatural, the Things That Might Possibly Kill Them at quite some distance, so if, for instance, you have to open a window to get your shot, and it’s Velcro-fastened, you can be as precise, as slow, as delicate as you like, the sound of Velcro fastenings coming apart will almost be guaranteed to sound to deer like nothing with which they want anything to do. Result, possibly? Deer fleeing. Hunt set back by at least several hours, possibly days. Friendships soured, possibly forever, all because Bob chose to open the Velcro at just the wrong moment
You can plan around the unnatural noisiness of Velcro, absolutely, and several of the cheaper options in our list of best hunting blinds have Velcro fastenings, because that’s the other consideration – Velcro fastenings are easy, and they’re cheap compared to the other, less raucous options. That means they make their way on to more affordable products. And as we say, you can absolutely plan your hunt around the noisiness of Velcro, so you can still get your money’s worth out of blinds that use it for fastenings. Just know that if you choose a Velcro-heavy blind, you have to plan your way around it, whereas if you have a blind fastened with straps or some other alternative, you don’t need to do that.
How Do I Make My Deer Blind Comfortable?
If there’s a more subjective question in the world, we don’t know what it is. Comfort is intensely personal, so the actual answer to this question will be unique to each individual hunter.
Once you’ve ensured that your hunting blind is waterproof and weatherproof, what then? What does comfort mean to you?
To some extent, the definition of comfort will depend on the space available – if you’re in a single-person blind, then comfort will be compact and probably mostly related to interaction with the physical space – a comfortable chair on which to sit and wait for the target animals, something fleecy against the cold, perhaps. Perhaps something fancy like the Ember Temperature Control Travel Mug – a battery-powered mug that keeps your tea or coffee at the perfect temperature all the way to the bottom, controlled like most things these days by an app. Sentimental keepsakes of family or religious significance, a favorite book. Such tiny things can make even a very small space comfortable on a long hunt.
For bigger spaces, the definition of what makes them comfortable expands, and changes depending on whether you’ve brought everything in with you along with a pop-up blind, (in which case, weight and carry limits mean you’re probably not bringing anything much more than is the occupant of a single-person blind), or a static permanent or semi-permanent blind, which allows for a great deal more comfort because, for instance, more comfortable furniture needs only to be transported there once and left behind, waiting for you on every subsequent visit.
For practical comfort on your hunt, try something like the FIREGEAR Gun Cleaning Kit , so you have something to keep busy with as you wait for the arrival of your target animals, and something which has a positive likely impact on your hunt.
This might well sound absurd in the context of a hunting trip, but even something like a small LOCHAS Ultra Soft rug or a pair of alternative shoes, whether they’re sneakers or even slippers, can add a touch of home and comfort after traveling into the hunting grounds. Who wouldn’t want to change out of boots that might be muddy and cold into something – almost anything – else, to feel more human again while they wait for their target animals, without taking away the instinct and the urgency of the hunter.
Not your thing? No problem – just as when you were making the decisions about what kind of hunting blind was right for you and your hunting journey, so the decisions about what brings you comfort in your hunting blind are ultimately personal to you.
Warmth, waterproofing, weatherproofing, a hot cup of coffee, a book, a gun cleaning kit, a change of shoes and a touch of softness underfoot is just one direction.
What brings you comfort, without adding too much weight – like family photos, icons, a treasured baseball card or a letter from a child – you should absolutely bring on your hunting trips, and keep safe, to evoke the comfort and the love of those from whom your hunting trip necessarily separates you like a day-job.
Physical comfort might come from a change of clothes or shoes, which you can pack with little difficulty even if you’re hiking into the hunting ground carrying a pop-up blind.
Practical comfort might come in the form of equipment to keep your gun or your bow primed, clean and ready for action when then moment comes.
Comfort for the heart might mean these mementos, touchstones and keepsakes that evoke your family or friends, the people who help make you who you are, and without whom you wouldn’t be ever quite the same.
And comfort for the soul might be a religious book, tract, symbol or icon, or it might be something passed down from those who loved you, taught you, even taught you hunting, and have now passed on, as you keep some part of them and their memory alive in your blind.
Comfort is personal. But you can have a conversation with yourself along those four lines – what brings you physical, practical, emotional and spiritual comfort? Like a bride looking for something old, new, borrowed and blue, every hunter heading to a hunting blind should be able to take something with them that feeds those four comfort-needs, so they can feel complete, connected and aware of their place in the wider world and on the hunt. Do that, from the confines of a waterproof, weatherproof, well-adapted blind that suits your nature and your hunting journey, and you won’t go far wrong.