By: D.J. Randolph
Hunting most of central North Dakota means hunting from a ground blind. We have trees in some areas but, in general, they are small and/or not very straight. That’s why I rely on Ameristep ground blinds and accessories to put my family and me in position to hunt a variety of game.
Advantages of Ground Blinds
Location – A ground blind can be setup in just about any location. I like to brush blinds in and leave them setup whenever possible. This lets the wildlife get used to the blind and it reduces the amount of disturbance you make when it’s time to hunt. In open field areas, I like to set the blind up against a large bale of hay or straw whenever possible.
Hides movement – You can simply get by with more movement when hunting from a blind. This is a huge advantage when taking kids hunting. It’s important to keep as many windows closed as possible. The less light that gets into the blind, the harder it is for wildlife to spot you.
Protection from weather – It can get very cold and very windy on the prairie. I have spent many days swaying and shivering in a tree. A blind provides protection from wind, snow and rain. It usually means that you are more comfortable so you hunt longer. This is another big advantage when taking kids hunting.
Scent Control – When hunting from a blind, with most of the windows closed, there is much less air moving around you. This means less human scent in the air. When you combine this with your favorite scent elimination product it gives you a distinct advantage over being out in the open.
Tips for Setting Up a Ground Blind
- Choose a location that is upwind from where you expect wildlife to be if hunting deer, elk, antelope, etc.
- Try to choose a location in the shadows, if possible.
- Clear the ground debris from the area where the blind will sit. Ground debris can be noisy and uncomfortable to kneel on.
- Stake your blind down and tie it off. It doesn’t take much wind to move a blind. This movement will spook wildlife during your hunt and can severely damage your blind if you leave it for an extended time.
- Practice shooting from a blind prior to hunting. Window height and shot angles can vary depending on the situation and the hunter.
Making Family Memories
In preparation for the fall archery season, we set up our Ameristep blind about 18 yards off an intersection of several deer trails. We took the time to stake it out and brush it in very well because the plan was to leave it up for the entire season. November 5 was only the third time we had hunted this blind. The wind was right and we had trail cam pictures of a few decent bucks in this area. It was getting near the end of shooting light when a nice 4×5 (that we nicknamed “Shorty” because of his short brow tines) stepped out into the clearing. My son, Matthew, got his bow ready but the buck would not give us the right angle for a good shot. It took several minutes for the buck to finally turn broadside and give my son Matthew a clean shot. Matthew made a great shot and brought home his best buck to date.
We got busy that winter and never had a chance to take that blind down. So, when spring turkey season opened on April 9 the following spring we were back in the same blind. This time it was my daughter, Mariah, Matthew and me. It hadn’t been light very long when we had a gobbler answer my call. A few minutes later he got sight of the Avian-X decoy setup and came right in. Mariah was able to take her biggest turkey to date. Her gobbler weighed in at 23.5 pounds with a 9-inch beard.
Our family made two great memories from that one blind. The key was proper placement and setup. That Ameristep blind was up throughout the winter and remained in great condition to be put to use again and again.