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Deer Blinds | Best Application for Each Type

Deer Blinds 101 | Ground, Bale, Hub, and Box Blinds

Not so long ago, most deer hunters headed out to their favorite hunting spot with a thermos full of coffee or soup, some sort of cushion to sit on, and their trusty firearm slung over their shoulder.  This checklist of must-haves might be the same, however, the setup at that particular destination looks very different today.  Parents and Grandparents across the land tell many hunting tales where they were positioned on the ground up against a mature tree or up on a ridge with a few branches stacked up in front of them to provide some level of concealment.  Throughout time, we have enhanced our concealment methods with many different options to try and remain undetected while in the whitetail woods.  The first advanced deer blinds began taking shape with strong fabric materials, then we started using wood to construct shooting houses, and eventually we added elevation with towers and platforms.  If you walk into any outdoor retailer today, you can become quite overwhelmed with the amount of options you have while shopping for a deer blind.  There are countless designs that use a plethora of different materials all while providing the option of permanent, semi-permanent, or mobile setups.  Understanding the fundamental differences and the intended use for each style will really help in narrowing down your selection on the optimal choice for your particular hunting location.

The Ground / Hub Blind

The most popular deer blind on the market today is by far the pop-up ground blind.  This hub-style tent design has provided hunters means to set up a new blind with 360-degree concealment anywhere they please within just a few minutes time.  Being lightweight, packable, and durable, pop-up style blinds create shelter on those foul weather days and expand the number of sits in the field throughout the season.  The Muddy line of ground blinds can be packed in using the carrying case and back-pack style straps for easy transport.

One major advantage of using a ground blind is having an alternative in areas where there are a scarce number of mature trees, limiting your options for hanging a treestand.  A whitetails preferred bedding habitat is usually thick with young saplings and undergrowth.  If you are trying to hunt close to bedded deer, a well brushed in ground blind can really pay off if set up properly.  Something you’ll want to keep in mind though is not to get too comfortable with unfavorable wind directions.  Even though you are concealed in a thick fabric, your scent will still carry and you still need ensure you are placing your blind down wind of their beds.

Another fantastic location for placing your ground blind is in transition areas.  These are popular locations for bucks to stage before exposing themselves in ag fields or open timber.  Dry creek beds that run alongside a patch of timber or marshy grass lands that lead into a swamp are a couple other examples of where a ground blind can be a real asset.  The Muddy Ravage and VS360 are durable and resistant to harsh weather.  Watch them disappear as you brush in the Epic camo covered canvas with surrounding vegetation.  If being on the ground just isn’t providing the views that you would like, Muddy’s line of ground blinds can easily be elevated.  Both the Ravage and VS360 can be placed on a tower or platform, but Muddy specifically created a soft-sided hub blind to be robust enough to withstand the higher winds that come with a lifted blind.  The Soft Side 360 is constructed with a powder coated steel frame and has insulated fabric walls.  If you decide to stay grounded or raise yourself to new heights, Muddy’s line of ground blinds has you covered.

 The Bale Blind

One of the coolest alternatives for those who hunt farm lands, prairies, or meadows is the creation of the bale blind.  The shape and color replicates a bale of hay that deer across the country are used to seeing in open areas.  The heavy-duty steel frame is covered with a burlap material that will blend right in just like another piece of farm equipment.  How many times have you hunted a field edge and watched deer move into the center well out of your shooting range?  The bale blind can place you right in the center of the action and deer won’t have a clue that they are being hunted.  I would advise setting out your bale blind prior to the start of the hunting season so the deer have a chance to get use to its presence.  Once it’s in a particular location for a short period of time, deer will no longer act cautious and will come in close proximity.  Those who have hunted in a bale blind the first day after setting it up have not had the results others have who have waited a couple weeks.  If you have a trail camera to place in front of the blind, it wouldn’t hurt to set it up and monitor how the deer are reacting.  If you start seeing photos of deer getting closer and closer to the blind without hesitation, you know the blind is no longer considered a foreign object to your herd. 

A bale blind is beneficial, because it can be used in early season, pre-rut, rut, post-rut and late season.  You can catch that target buck still on his early season feeding patterns before he starts chasing does and changes his routine.  Setting a bale blind in a field during peak rutting activity will put you close to bucks who drop their guard to predators.  Plus, if you have a reliable food source that deer frequent, such as a late season food plot, bucks will be looking to pack the pounds back on after a hard rut.  Having the bale blind established in a field where deer tend to feed can give you a front row seat to “Mr. Big” as he puts on his winter weight.  The Muddy bale blinds are very sturdy at 90 lbs. and large enough for some maneuverability inside if you need to reposition yourself for the perfect shot.  Hunting from inside one of these unique blinds can be an exciting new way to put yourself closer to that trophy and provide some great footage as well.

The Box Blind

 

Most of us have that one friend who has a deer blind all decked out with heaters, insulation, carpet, cup holders for his coffee, and basically everything but a television inside.  Trying to build one of those blinds is plenty difficult, but trying to make it durable enough to last through several winters can be a lot of work, time, and money.  Besides the initial construction, usually the homemade big box blinds require a new roof every couple years, frequent applications of camo paint or fabric to the outside, and resealing the cracks where insects and critters have crawled in adds up to a pretty expensive hassle.  Muddy developed a line of box blinds that accommodate every type of hunter and requires little maintenance year after year.  The Gunner, Bull, and Penthouse blinds all are constructed with thermal, scent, and noise control walls creating a stealth mode environment.  Installing either one of these box blinds on one of Muddy’s steel tower options will give you that true luxury hunting experience.

The most obvious advantage is being able to hunt in comfort during those frigid snowy late seasons.  With the warmth and security of an elevated box blind at your disposal, it takes any weather forecast out of the equation when deciding whether or not to go hunting.  No matter your weapon of choice, bow or firearm, the Bull and Penthouse blinds have window options that are configured to adhere to any shot position. 

Finding a location for your tower box blind should involve some serious thought and consideration since they are not easily moved.  For example, food plots should be built with the box blind position in mind before working the ground.  This will avoid any second guessing after a plot is seeded and the blind isn’t as easily accessible for relocation.  The prime locations for Muddy’s box blinds are areas with good clear shooting lanes.  Ag fields, food plots, watering holes, etc. are all areas with open views in several directions.  Hunting in a box blind during the rut is a huge advantage for those who can sit all day long.  The comfort and security of the box blind really helps when grinding out several long days in a stand during this time of the year when mature bucks are most active.  Pack a few meals, bring your spouse or kids and enjoy the experience without worrying about weather conditions.  Established box blinds can make your buddies really jealous, especially when you start having success year after year. 

Whitetails have evolved throughout the history of their species and so have we.  Our ambush locations have become more sophisticated and advanced as we learn more and more about deer behavior.  Deer blinds should be treated like any other piece of hunting equipment, such as your gun, bow, binoculars, etc.  Investing in a quality product like Muddy’s ground blinds, bale blinds, or box blinds will result in more successful hunts if used in the proper fashion.  Pop-up ground blinds are extremely mobile, yet durable and conceal hunters extremely well.  Bale blinds are a new trend that has proven to be successful in open terrain where cover is scarce.  Lastly, box blinds can extend your hunts and put you on trophy deer throughout the entire whitetail season.  All of these options have their niche and are proven to be fruitful when used appropriately.

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Late Doe Management | How Filling the Freezer Can Cause Problems

Late Season Doe Management Could Pose Problems When Filling the Freezer

It’s the last week of deer season and you have just had one of the proudest, yet scariest moments of your life. Your significant other recently looked at you and pleaded “when are you going to kill a deer”? A tear shed from your eye…a slight sob came from deep within. Thoughts rushed through your mind…”Is he/she really, no it can’t be, no way, should I even dare ask, do they want me to go hunting?” After mustering up enough courage you let a very meek “do you want me to go hunting this afternoon”? Not a second passes by when your mind suddenly forms a terrifying question…”Are we out of meat?” The realization that late season doe management is needed to fill the freezer isn’t pleasing, especially when filling the freezer could pose problems for your future hunting!

While many hunters might revel in the fact that their significant other has just told them to go hunting, the scary position and possibility of being out of venison isn’t pleasing, in fact, it’s darn right petrifying! While late season hunting during the last weeks and days of deer season offer opportunities to fill the freezer, doing so may, in fact, jeopardize your future hunting success…

Trophy Pursuit: Doe Management from Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit on Vimeo

 

Why Late Season Doe Management?

Lets be honest, the whole reason the pressure is on you at this moment is because you have passed countless opportunities at some much-needed steaks and hamburgers still walking around on 4 legs. The reason you passed doe after doe is the hope of a rack not to far behind her.

While this may have been a good tactic during October, and even during the sweet November rut, there are no excuses for December. Hunters can struggle with the internal debate of pulling the trigger on a doe, no matter the time of day, minutes left in the hunt, or the freezer situation. There is something “opportunistic” about a pressure free food plot during the last hour of light, a very real unknown of what could step out of the dark timber on the far side of the plot. This drives you crazy to the point of putting some strain on your venison supply.

Besides and empty freezer haunting what seems like every dinner for the past month, another big weight comes from you inner deer manager and habitat manager. It’s what Trail Cameras Weekly calls the “Pile up effect”. The characteristics and facts of the late season that make it one of the best times to kill a mature buck also force the hunter’s hand in being one of the worst in terms or habitat/property management. Either one, two, or in some instances all three factors come together to force a hunters hand at doe management…or at least plants the thought in their mind. Low hunting pressure, quality thermal habitat/cover/bedding, and the presence of a late season food source are the ingredients for exceptionally “well off” property in the late season. It is also the recipe for the pile up effect.

30, 40, 50 + deer in one 3 acre food plot or cut crop field may be alarming for some hunters, yet others consider it as a daily norm. When deer start to pile into to either a spot of low hunting pressure, a warm/thick bedding area, or a late season food source like standing corn or beans it usually spurs some thought towards doe management. The sheer amount of numbers continually increasing as the temperature drops and snow falls alarms hunters into thinking they have a way too many deer. In many instances, you might! The question will haunt you until the post season ( look out for an upcoming blog about deer surveys). Otherwise, can a conclusion be drawn from simply observing food source or bedding area? Yes and no. While it certainly warrants the taking of a doe or two in many hunters’ minds, there are simply way too many factors to consider of whether or not you should practice doe management. Besides figuring out how many deer you have on your property, the fawn recruitment rate, sex ratio, and taking into account habitat/property characteristics and food availability, there are some problems and benefits of practicing doe management this late into the season.

Late Season Doe Management: Problems

Think about what a regular late season hunt consists of. Getting out in the stand or box blind overlooking a brassica plot around let’s say 2 or 3 o clock. Waiting patiently until 4 or 4:30 pm when the first couple of deer start filtering out. Waiting even longer until about 5:15 – 5:30 (or last 30 minutes of legal shooting light) to see what buck might eventually make his way into the plot.  Most hunters would agree that this is a pretty solid itinerary for what normally happens out there.

Now, try and think about when you think might be the most appropriate time to shoot a doe. Many hunters would say early in the afternoon, however, many would also say wait as long as possible to see if a buck shows. The problems occur as both have negatives going for them…

  • Shooting Early: Button Bucks

If pulling the trigger early in the afternoon sounds like the best option then you might just pull the trigger on a button buck. Usually the first deer out in the plot or crop field are fawns. They are also often alone. By this time in the season they are the biggest (in terms of body) they will be during the first hunting season. So you have one deer out in the field at about 4:00, do you shoot. Unless you have a spotting scope in the tree stand or blind,  or a $500+ pair of binoculars you might be shooting a button buck.

  • Shooting Late: Shed Bucks

In some cases, one of your mature hit-list bucks, or a soon to be up and comer might have cast their antlers early. There are many reasons this is caused by (hormones, sex ratios, injuries) but the fact is that there is a buck not sporting his headgear! Now you waited until the last 15 minutes of light, a big bodied deer walks into the plot, but you don’t see a rack so you let her or him walk in and start feeding. Ten minutes later and you only have 5 minutes of legal shooting light. Do you know which big bodied deer is a doe or a cast buck? Often times there is not enough light to be 100% certain that blocky head doesn’t have craters on it or not. Walking up on a big mature doe to only seconds later figure out it’s MR. Big without is “valuables” is sickening, to say the least!

Late Season Doe Management: Benefits

With deer behavior and your hunting strategy relying so much on food sources in the late season, one serious benefit comes from practicing doe management…and it often goes discarded! This benefit goes for the early season as well. Both the late season and the early season create a setting in which food is the name of the game. By not discarding the gut pile, and cutting open a doe’s stomach contents you can find out what deer eat on your property. Finding out directly what deer are eating and concentrating on during this time is more valuable than what your trail cameras are telling you in some instances!

The information and stomach contents broken down into percentages of food sources like the video shows means that you can accurately assess where the deer, and more importantly your hit-list buck, might be spending their time feeding.

One other benefit that doesn’t take much explanation is simply using a dwindling freezer supply as an excuse to put as many hours on the stand as

possible. Providing food your family is the basics and history of hunting…You must hunt for your family to survive! While that might be blowing things out of proportion for the majority of hunters, it is, by all means, a very good excuse to keep hitting the woods!

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The Takeaway: START EARLY!

While there are some benefits to practicing doe management in the late season, there are also some pretty intense negatives. Next year, instead of hearing relentless nagging and the need for meat from your spouse, kill a doe or two early to relieve your dwindling meat supply. By doing this, you can have the rest of the year to concentrate on killing a buck.

However, if your aim is to use a dwindling meat supply as an excuse to hunt as much as possible in the late season, then you by all terms are a very smart hunter indeed. Just be cautious that this benefit can and might indeed cause you problems later down the road. For more videos and articles like this, and more deer hunting videos and weekly hunting content, visit Muddy TV. Also be sure to check in every week for new hunting tips, tactics, and strategies at the Muddy Outdoors Blog.

Ground Blind Hunting Tips Photo Credit: Trophy Pursuit

Ground Blind Hunting Tips for the Late Season

 

Ground Blind Hunting Tips For Late Season Hunting

The 9th inning has arrived and while to many hunters that sounds like we are the bearer of bad news, it, in fact, is quite the opposite. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it is your only opportunity at scoring a 9th inning buck. For the past several weeks our blog topics have been diving into preparation for the late season. It now seems to be a fit time to dive straight into the actual hunting tactics. For the last weeks of deer season, a ground blind stands as one of best tools a hunter can possibly use. The characteristics of the late season intertwined with a ground blind’s effectiveness is unrivaled during this time period. Take these ground blind hunting tips for the late season and apply them to your hunting strategy. The time period, the tool, these tips, and the strategy all come together to give you a chance at that 9th inning buck you are so desperately seeking.

With state’s firearms seasons closing, bucks are finally starting to feel the effects of relentless hunting pressure lifting off of properties. This godsend goes hand in hand with the arrival of cold temperatures and the attraction of late season food sources. These ingredients spell out a recipe for one of the best times to kill you hit-list buck, even when it is the 9th inning! The reason for this is not just due in part to the biology and behavior of white-tailed deer, but what tools have been made available that are so extremely effective during these last weeks.

Trail Cameras Tell the Story

In the past weeks, the relentless preparation and work to establish intel on late season food sources have been put entirely on the shoulders of trail cameras. In recent weeks we have provided countless trail camera tips, and trail camera settings for the late season in order to help you discover a “patternable” mature buck on these food sources.

 

 

For all practical purposes, trail cameras have started and are currently telling the story of the late season. With the help of both trail cameras on time-lapse mode, and trail cameras in late season funnels a mature buck cannot go unseen when entering a late season food source. Now, with the season running out of pages so to speak, hunters look for a hunting tool and tactic to finish and close the book on a hit-list buck!

Blinds Finish It

During this time of year blinds, in general, take precedence over tree stands. Whether you favor box blinds, elevated ground blinds, mobile ground blinds, or bale blinds doesn’t matter, the simple fact is that they are the best tool for the job. Why?

Whitetail 101 Episode 17 from Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit on Vimeo.

Bill Winke, the host of Midwest Whitetail and Muddy’s Whitetail 101, explains why blinds are the only tool for the job in the late season. The very nature of deer and the late season support this reasoning…

  • It’s Cold –Temperatures dropping beneath 32 degrees packs quite a punch, especially with a 10 mph wind backing it. Blinds offer a hunter a windscreen and ultimately provides a hunter with a buffer from the weather and late season elements.
  • Deer are FED UP with Movement– By now deer are extremely wary of the slightest movements. This can make hunting from a tree stand nearly impossible. Rather, a ground blind or elevated box blind allows you to conceal your movements.
  • Food Source– In this period of deer season, with the deer so heavily focused on food, easily mobile ground blinds can easily be placed and moved in and around the food sources according to patterns and wind directions.

While blinds might be the best tool for the late season, no tool is without a flaw. The simple fact is that you are at the deer’s level. This requires extra precautions from both their sight and sense of smell. Ground blind hunting in the late season requires special attention in the placement according to both the deer and the food source.

Ground Blind Hunting and Placement Tips

Trail Cameras Weekly’s Weston Schrank walk you through how to determine the perfect spot for the blind on your late season food source. It will depend entirely on these 5 features. Take a good look at these features not only when you are setting up the blind, but every time you hunt as they are constantly changing.

 

  • Food Source – Identify and take a good look at the food source and all of the features and characteristics of the area.
  • Bedding Area – Figure out where the closest bedding area is, also consider where a mature buck might bed.
  • Funnels and Runs – You need to identify the main funnel or easiest travel route for the deer utilizing the food source.
  • Wind and Thermals– The wind direction and more importantly thermals are the most important consideration in relation to your blind setup location, the bedding area, and where the deer will be.
  • Hunter Access -Your entrance/exit route must be safe during the day and night, In order to keep the food source pressure free.

 

By looking at a map and scouting the food source and surrounding area, the above 5 features will easily suggest the best location for the blind.

Other Ground Blind Hunting Tips for the Late Season

Remember, late season hunting is nearly always afternoon hunting. It is ideal for the late season as deer work their way out of the bedding areas on very cold days to feed on the food source early to avoid the frigid temps of the early morning. This feeding will occur in daylight for the most part as they simply need more time to feed! This means thermals mid-hunt to the last hour of light will begin to drop off the hills and follow topography like water. The goal is to set the blind up where we can access it without walking across where we expect deer for scent purposes, or allow deer in the bedding area to see us, and also needing to consider our exit in relation to deer feeding in the field. At the same time, you must make sure the wind direction and/or the falling thermals are exiting the field in a way that for the most part deer will not catch your wind.

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By reading these ground blind hunting tips, you should walk away with three key take home points…One, the 9th inning is not the time to give up on deer season. Two, you should be hunting out of a ground blind during the late season. Finally three, there is a lot more to setting up a ground blind that simply placing it for the shot. With ideal blind setups for late season hunting, observations in place, and required prep work from trail cameras and scouting, you will be setting yourself up for success in either this week or the cold weeks to come!