Finding the Right Spot
Following the keys to blind placement can be the biggest factor in landing a trophy buck.
June 10, 2009
I've frozen my fanny off way too many days in treestands in December. Nowadays, when I'm desperately trying to fill my last tag in the winter, I sit on the ground. It's warmer down there, and if you set up right, you also have better cover. The keys are to keep your blind small and tight, and to build it in just the right spot downwind of where you expect to see deer.
You can plop down anywhere and shoot a buck at 150 yards or farther with a .270 or the like. But when you're using a slug gun or a muzzleloader and hoping for an ideal shot of 100 yards and closer, where you sit becomes more important. If you're bowhunting, blind location is downright critical.
The No. 1 thing to remember: Do not set up where deer will walk straight at you through the bare winter woods. If an old doe catches you moving or simply sees your deer blind as some strange blob that wasn't there yesterday, she'll either spook outright or back off and skirt you. Any buck behind her will probably do the same. Instead, set up where animals will walk past your hunting blind at an angle, either quartering on or, better, quartering away. This way, a doe or buck won't see your blind's outline from the get-go and get suspicious. If and when an 8-pointer walks into range, you'll be out of his direct line of sight when you draw your bow or shift your gun. And finally, he'll be in good position for a shot, either quartering or broadside.
You can get away with a big brush hunting blind or even a pop-up early in the season, but not in December. If a buck looks down through the open woods and sees a dark, out-of-place blob, you're doomed. So keep your hide small and tight, about 50 inches high and 30 inches wide. This way you can sit in it and gun hunt with optimum cover, or stand and bowhunt with just enough cover. Simply use what natural cover you have-limbs in the woods, cedars in CRP, corn stalks or switchgrass around fields ... you get the idea. It's all about looking small and blending in.
When gun hunting, I sit on the ground on a small folding stool with my back against a tree as wide as my body. That back cover is important. Adhering to the dimensions above, craft a small fort of sticks, grass and the like around you. Use your boots to clear the leaves around your feet down to the dirt, so you can sit and turn quietly. Take those piles of leaves and sprinkle them over the blind to further break your outline.
For archery hunting, I stand behind a tree about 20 inches wide. I try to put another wide tree or, better, a copse of several trees 3 or 4 feet behind me. This gives me the required back cover, and I can crouch behind the front tree until it's time to draw and shoot. I usually build a small screen of brush to the sides, but again I keep it tight and small.
My stool gives me a couple feet of elevation to see and shoot. I always use a monopod or shooting sticks to achieve a rock-solid rest. I also use a stool when bowhunting to take a load off until the deer start to move. Then I stand and remain standing. I screw a utility hook in the front tree and hang my compound on it at shoulder height. When I see a deer, I lift it off the hook with little noise and movement.