The modern, portable hunting blind is a pretty amazing tool, and while
most of my autumn whitetail hunting is from treestands, I consider portable
blinds an essential part of my late-season arsenal.
What makes blinds key to the late season? Foremost is the shelter they
provide, enabling you to hunt longer and be more effective while there, two
crucial keys to success. The extra concealment blinds offer is also important
in the foliage-free woods of late fall and winter. And there are late-season
methods of hunting and tactics that just plain call for use of a blind.
Here are some useful tips for using portable blinds to fill that last deer
tag of the year.
Hunting out of a portable blind is different in many ways to other ways of
hunting. Bowhunters especially need to set up a blind and run through a routine
of moves before hunting out of it. You need to learn to set it up and take it
down quickly, figure out where and how to sit (you'll want a chair), how to
keep you bow handy, and how to draw, aim and shoot without whacking the edge of
a window and missing the deer (a common faux pas). If you plan to use
shoot-through windows, take enough practice shots to be assured your arrows
will pass through without deflection. You'll learn valuable bits of info along
the way, such as the fact you may not be able to see your sight pins in the
darkness of the blind without a sight light.
Balance Concealment, Shooting Opportunities
Never estimate a whitetail's wariness of your blind. If you're bowhunting,
you'll need to blend your blind in very well with its surroundings, so much
that you are likely to limit your shooting angles to a single direction. If
you're gun hunting, you can get away with trading concealment for wider
shooting opportunities, to the point of setting the blind on elevated ground
for better visibility. Still, don't make the mistake of setting your blind in
the open for whitetails -- make sure the outline is broken up. I've seen deer
spook from a blind that was partially concealed at 150 yards!
This hunter has stuck his blind deep into the corner and is concealing it further by wetting the blind so snow will stick to it.
Let It Weather
An alternative to concealing the blind is to leave it erected until deer become
accustomed to it. This can work even in wide-open fields where deer come to
feed. Keep in mind that wise, old bucks and deer that are not
"locals" are unlikely to be fooled.
Employ The Snowball Effect
Here's a good way to conceal your blind in snowy surroundings. Bring a jug of
water and a snow shovel along. Erect the blind and pour some water over it,
then quickly toss snow onto the blind with the shovel. The water will make the
snow stick to the blind instead of slide off, and your concealment will be
Don't make the mistake of wearing snow camo in your blind! Dress in black and
make sure your hands and face are covered so that you blend in with the shadows
and dark inside walls of the blind. It's amazing how well animals can see into
blinds and many hunters don't realize that they didn't spook from the blind
itself, but from seeing hunters move.
Take advantage of the blind's enclosing effect for concealment and shelter. Add
insulation in the form of blankets or sleeping bags under your feet and butt
and over your legs. Use a bow holder to keep your bow handy and ready so you
don't have to hold it and can keep you hands and arms under the blankets, too.
Being as comfortably warm as possible will make you a more effective hunter.
Evening Setup: Food Sources
In late season, the most effective ambush setups for evening hunting are at food
sources or approaches to them. Since deer are visible at fields in the evening,
scout them from afar with optics if possible.
Determine the favored routes deer take to access the field food sources and
plan an ambush accordingly. This often means concealing your blind on a field
edge near one or more trails entering the field, which will allow shots at deer
entering the field and for a distance out into the field. In some cases, it may
be best to place the blind in the open out in the field. If that's the case
plan on leaving it out at least a week prior to hunting it for the deer to
One obstacle with hunting fields is the difficulty in leaving the blind
without being busted. A way to avoid that is to have someone arrive to pick you
up. They will spook the deer, but it will be with much less impact than if you
had spooked them.
Morning Setup: Heading To Bed
The best morning stands in the late season tend to be bottlenecks of travel
from food sources to bedding areas. The beauty of using a blind is that some of
the best of these deer funnels occur where good, concealed treestand sites do
not exist. Brushy fencelines are among them; some of the best winter setups are
intersections of fencelines deer use to conceal their travels to field feeding
areas, haystacks, and the like. Stick your blind deep into the fenceline
corner, and make sure you can come and go undetected by the deer you're