Types of Hunting Blinds & How Best to Use Them: A Complete Guide
Hunters employ different methods to find, shoot, and tag game animals, such as spot-and-stalk, hide and ambush, tree stands, or the use of hunting blinds.
If you’re a seasoned hunter, new to hunting or simply never used a hunting blind before there will be something here for you. It is essential to learn what these blinds are, how to use them, and how to care for them. Used correctly, hunting blinds can make a hunting session more successful and rewarding.
What is a Hunting Blind?
Hunting blinds are essentially small huts or cabins, typically only big enough for one or two people at a time. The purpose of hunting blinds is to give a hunter a hiding spot, from which they can observe their surroundings and wait for the animals to come into view, allowing the hunter to take a shot.
In essence, a blind hunt is similar to traditional ambush hunting in that both methods involve waiting for the animal to come towards the hunter’s location. The main difference is that a hunting blind provides the hunter with a degree of concealment and protection from the weather. In contrast, a traditional ambush hunter has to create their hiding spot from natural elements.
Although the term “deer blind” is often used as a synonym for “hunting blind,” you can also use them for hunting other animals than deer, such as elk or turkey.
Types & Features:
Most deer blinds fall in one of two categories: ground blinds and elevated blinds.
Ground Hunting Blinds
Ground hunting blinds are placed directly on the ground, taking advantage of a strategic location (such as near a feeding or drinking spot) to give hunters good opportunities to take a shot.
Hunting ground blinds are relatively portable and easy to set up, typically fitting in the back of a pick-up truck, but require some preparation to be fully effective, requiring brushing-in, scent camouflaging, or opening only one window to increase concealment.
Elevated Hunting Blinds
Elevated blinds, also called hunting towers or tower stands, are deer blinds mounted on support platforms, creating a vantage point.
Elevated deer blinds present many advantages, including increased visibility as you gain a 360° view; better safety as you will be shooting at a downward angle, making misses less dangerous; and natural concealment, as shooting from an elevated position makes it more difficult for your scent to reach a deer.
However, a tower is typically harder to move, as the deer blind’s components and the structural support need to be separated and dismantled for transportation. The structure must also use sufficiently sturdy materials and be resistant to harsh weather conditions to avoid collapsing.
Painting your elevated deer blinds with Durabak - a polyurethane protective coating, which is UV and water-resistant is usually a good idea. It comes in a range of customizable colors you can use for camouflage and most importantly, it will protect it from the elements. Quality elevated blinds, such as Muddy hunting blinds, come with robust steel support structures, even these can be made stronger with Durabak.
Throw Down Hunting Blinds
Throw down blinds are a compact, highly portable style of hunting ground blind that is typically used for turkey shoots. The blind is composed of canvas panels, and integrated stakes set up to form a U-shape to conceal one or two people from one side. These units are ideal for locations with little ground cover.
Pop-up Hunting Blinds
Pop-up blinds are an ultra-lightweight option that set up quietly and is considered the best type of temporary blind for poultry hunters. They are suitable for those hunting in national forest areas who don’t have the option of building a permanent structure.
360 Hunting Blinds
While many hunting blinds come with mesh windows or narrow apertures on one or two of the blind walls, 360 deer blinds offer multiple viewing and shooting windows, both for bows and firearms, on every side of the blind, giving the hunter a 360° view of the hunting range. These deer hunting blinds can be installed on the ground or elevated and are suitable for larger hunting parties.
Duck Hunting Blinds
A unique category of hunting blinds is duck blinds; they are specialized for duck and waterfowl hunting. In essence, duck blinds are floating, open-top, brushed-in structures resembling camouflaged boats, used directly in the waterfowl’s natural habitat.
You can also use duck ground blinds; however, they provide less of a vantage point and can be difficult to position close to the water’s edge.
Plastic Deer Blinds
Plastic deer blinds are ideal for a permanent structure that is simple to build yourself. Most plastic deer blinds come as snap-lock panels that come together with very few tools. While not as inconspicuous as blinds made from natural materials, they are highly weather-resistant. They can be mounted on elevators with a solid wood floor or placed directly on the ground.
DIY Hunting Blinds
Although you can purchase ready-made hunting blinds, such as Muddy hunting blinds, making them at home is also possible. Good materials for homemade hunting blinds include structural lumber and hardwoods such as oak, fir, or pine.
Reinforcing elements, such as anchoring feet and elevators, should use stainless steel or aluminum to ensure their resistance to rusting and corrosion, enhancing your DIY blind’s structural integrity.
Features to Consider:
When shopping for hunting blinds, there are several critical features to consider before you make your purchase.
Windows are not only necessary to keep the elements out; they also keep your scent in. There are different types of windows to choose from, including mesh windows that improve your concealment; hinged glass windows for ultra-quiet opening and closing; and aluminum track windows, ideal for narrow bow hunting apertures.
The materials you choose for your hunting blinds needs to stand up to the elements while appearing inconspicuous to wildlife. Wood is an ideal natural material for a deer blind, especially oak, as these trees are populous in deers’ natural habitat and may not alert the deer to your presence.
Aluminum or stainless steel are the perfect lightweight material for a deer blind frame as they are corrosion-resistant and extremely strong.
You have many options for the sides of your blind. Polyethylene plastic panels are UV-resistant and won’t deteriorate with prolonged exposure. Brushed polyester is also a great choice for a soft-sided blind.
Regardless of the materials you choose, always opt for a blind that comes with camouflage, either painted on the exterior or woven into the side-panel’s fabric.
How To Use Hunting Blinds
All deer hunting blinds need to provide you with three forms of concealment: hiding you from the animal’s sight, preventing it from hearing you, and controlling your scent, so you aren’t detected even when hidden.
Placement and Timing
Deer immediately notice any abrupt changes to their natural habitat. Seeing a box blind where there wasn’t one beforehand tends to spook the deer, who will become wary of its presence and avoid it.
If you were to set up deer blinds today and come back the next week, you probably wouldn’t find a single animal willing to approach, even if it’s in an ideal location.
The simplest way to deal with this problem is to install your deer hunting blinds a long time in advance. For example, if you placed them during the summer then came back during hunting season, it gives the deer enough time to get used to the new structures.
Most hunters do not wait that long to place their deer blinds. Survey the area and find the hunting area’s key elements: where the food sources and bodies of water are, which direction the deer are most likely to approach from, and what the wind direction will be during the hunt.
An ideal location for deer blinds is near a source of nutritious food, such as an acorn tree. Another good spot is near a bedding area. Most deer spend about 75% of their time resting to conserve energy through efficient use of quick power naps, never letting themselves fall into a deep sleep unless they have to.
Cover and Concealment
An excellent way to get game animals used to the sight of your deer hunting blinds more quickly is to cover them using local branches, leaves, and other vegetation. This traditional technique is known as brushing-in.
The natural scents and shapes provided by local brush help deer get used to the presence of a new structure, making it seem less foreign.
If your deer blinds use rigid materials in their construction, such as wood or plastic, you can improve the brushing of your blind by painting it with a DIY camouflage pattern.
Elevated blinds are even easier to brush-in than hunting ground blinds because you can use the support structure to place your brush, leaves, and other camouflaging elements, making it seem more natural to the local wildlife.
Care and maintenance
Although hunting blinds are not intended to remain in place year-round (with the notable exception of permanent hunting towers), your blinds will stay in the outdoors, exposed to the elements and the weather, no matter how harsh, possibly for several months.
Protecting your blind from the elements depends on its type, placement, and materials. If your walls, roof, flooring, or support structure uses any kind of rigid materials, such as wood, plastic, fiberglass, or metal, consider coating them with a protective layer.
Coatings such as Durabak outdoor liner can protect your blinds from damage such as rotting, rusting, termites, sun damage, and other degradation. The UV protective coating will also shield your blind’s elements from sun damage and increase its water resistance, keeping it in good condition year-round.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best hunting blind?
There is no single best blind type. It depends on your hunting grounds, prey, and weapon of choice. Each type has pros and cons; it is up to you to decide what’s best for the next hunt.
How much does it cost to build a hunting blind?
Typical DIY hunting blinds take between 9 and 12 hours to build and require between $300 and $500 of materials, on average.
Do box blinds scare deer?
Deer are suspicious of any new and unnatural elements introduced into their habitat. Set up your blinds several weeks in advance of your hunt to give them time to get used to it, and they will no longer pay it any mind.
Can you shoot through blind mesh?
No. Shooting through the mesh with a firearm (especially a muzzleloader) presents a fire hazard. Meshing destabilizes all projectiles (including bolts and arrows), potentially causing you to miss or wound the animal.
What is the easiest ground blind to set up?
Pop-up blinds and throw-down blinds are the easiest to set up and fold back down.
Do you have to brush in a ground blind?
It’s strongly recommended. If you fail to brush in your blind, your chances of seeing a buck will decrease significantly.
Can deer see into ground blinds?
Yes, deer can see into ground blinds, especially if you have multiple windows open.
The best practice is to keep only one of your sliding windows open and close the rest to maximize your concealment but still give you an opening to take a shot.
How high should deer blind windows be?
It depends on your hunting weapon. If you hunt using a gun, the ideal height between the floor and the bottom side of your window should be somewhere between 40”-44”.
If you go bow hunting, you have to stand up to draw and shoot. The ideal height from the floor to the bottom of the sill is somewhere between 20”-24”, keeping in mind that a bow hunting window should be tall and horizontally narrow instead of wide and vertically narrow.
How high should elevated deer blinds be?
You can elevate your deer blind from 5 to 10 feet. Any higher and the wind becomes a significant hazard, and any lower, and you decrease your concealment level.
How far can deer smell you?
If you stand in the open and take no measures to mask your odor, a deer can detect you from at least 400 yards. Proper scent control techniques can trick the deer into believing you’re much further away (and therefore much less of a threat) than you really are.
Can deer smell you in a box stand?
Enclosed box stands will reduce but not completely eliminate your scent. You should use scent control devices even when hunting from a box stand.
Can deer see you through blind mesh?
Generally, no. The mesh breaks up your outline, making it almost impossible for a deer to see you. Keep in mind deer can still detect you by sound or scent.
How can I stop my blind windows from fogging up?
A simple, low-cost solution is to keep a squeegee and microfiber cloth in your blind so you can wipe the fog off the windows.
The Bottom Line
No matter the season, if you’re an avid outdoor person, you should care for and protect the equipment you use the most.
Whether you need a liner for your truck bed or a protective coating for your hunting ground blinds, Durabak is America’s #1 DIY polyurethane protective coating, trusted by millions of customers with thousands of practical uses.
Durabak bonds to many surfaces, from wood to fiberglass to metal, and is easy to apply. The protective coating shields your equipment from sun damage, saltwater, corrosion, scratches, impacts, vibrations, and many other hazards.