If there was one thing that has helped bowhunters get close shots without being spotted or winded as easily I would have to say its pop-up blinds.
At first, I scoffed at the idea of even using a blind that I had to carry into the field. I was a big fan of tree stands, the old spot and stalk or just building a brush blind.
I then discovered how advantageous they were for turkey hunting. I was blown away. Turkeys absolutely ignore them. Just pop one up in a bare field, slap out a decoy and get ready for some close-up turkey action. What is even better is that you can draw totally undetected. I started using them for every turkey hunt I went on and harvested Merriam's, Osceola, Eastern and Rio Grande turkeys with the help of pop-up blinds. I also used them for guiding turkey clients. I then experimented with using them for all types of big game. I learned the hard way that although turkeys ignore them and antelope don’t seem to worry about them, most big game animals spot them very quickly and become wary or spooked. I found that brushing the blind in to break up the outline worked great.
I have harvested bear, elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, Coues deer, hogs' antelope, javelina and turkey from a blind. Needless to say, I am hooked.
I have also learned the hard way that silhouetting yourself in the blind is a major no when hunting any species. You might as well be waving a sign that says, “I’m a predator, don’t come close”. To avoid this common mistake only put down a window or windows in one direction. If you put down windows in more than one direction, you will get silhouetted. If an animal silhouettes you in a blind odds, are you can write that animal off in that location. In an effort to stay as concealed as possible, I also sit back in the blind where it is the darkest to avoid getting spotted.
Another feature I have learned to use is shoot-through netting. A lot of bowhunters I know are hesitant to shoot through it. I advise them to practice shooting through it and they will find that unless they have terrible arrow flight it will not affect your point of impact.
The reason I use the shoot through netting is that it makes a huge difference in concealing you in the blind. Even more so on cloudy days, early morning or evening when the inside of the blind isn’t as dark or when the sun is coming in the window. I use it so much that I don’t like being without it anymore. You can go to my “YouTube” page to see a short video of me explaining the advantages of shoot through netting and showing how easy it is to accidently silhouette yourself.
The biggest disadvantage for traditional shooters using a pop-up blind is that the majority of them are designed for compounds or rifles. I struggled with short blinds for years and missed a few shots on animals because I hit the top of the blind. Fortunately, some companies are making taller blinds that accommodate recurves and longbows.
Make sure if you are going to purchase a blind that it is tall enough to accommodate your equipment. The height of your chair can also play a factor on you having enough clearance to shoot. There are a ton of chairs on the market that are different heights and that provide different support. I prefer a chair that has good back support and no arms. Millennium and Muddy make some great blind chairs. I find that chair arms impede my ability to draw normally without hitting the chairs arm with my string. I have on occasion dug out the ground to give me more clearance if I was in a short pop-up not made for traditional equipment.
I have enjoyed a lot of successful hunts out of my pop-up blinds and have found many advantages to hunting from them. Besides the hunting benefits they also help reduce scent, make it easy to video from if you have a tripod and are also great for introducing new people to hunting or taking kids as the blind conceals their movement.
If you have never used one, I suggest giving it a try. It could change the way you hunt.
- Fred Eichler