Hunting From a Ground Blind:
5 Common Mistakes Hunters Make

By Tracy Breen

Why Tracy Breen is an expert on hunting from
ground blinds, and how you can be too.


A well concealed blind is the easiest way to outsmart the eyes of a whitetail. Branches, large trees, standing corn or tall weeds can be used to break up the outline of a pop-up blind.

If you’re an avid deer hunter, you’ve probably noticed that more treestand companies are offering pop-up ground blinds. Many companies are jumping on the ground blind band wagon because the average deer hunter is aging. More treestand hunters are becoming ground blind hunters because they’re safer and more comfortable to hunt from than treestands.

I have lots of experience with ground blinds because I have cerebral palsy, and although I can hunt out of treestands, I prefer hunting deer from the ground. I have been doing this for over a decade, and have made almost every mistake a ground blind hunter can make. Learning from them has enabled me to take many deer from the ground. Below are some of the most common mistakes I’ve made and see many other hunters making – and my advice on how you can avoid them.

MISTAKE 1: Hunting From A Pop-Up Blind Right After You Put It Up


One advantage of hunting from a pop-up blind is you can easily video record your own hunts. This camera arm made by Pine Ridge Archery was designed specifically for
pop-up blinds.

Typically, whitetail deer have a very small home range. They often bed in the same areas daily, feed in the same areas and take the same path between the two. They know their home turf as well as my wife knows our living room. If I bring home a new couch, she’ll instantly know there is something new in the living room. When a pop-up blind is put up, deer often jump out of their skin and run away when they first see it. To fix the problem, the blind should be put in the woods a week or more ahead of time so the deer can adjust to it. If that’s not possible, put the blind in an open area where the deer can see it from a distance and approach it at their leisure. Adding a deer decoy can also help the deer overcome this problem.

MISTAKE 2: Not Brushing the Blind In

When I hunt from a pop-up blind, I brush it in as much as possible unless I am hunting an open field. Many hunters place a little bit of brush around a blind and call it good. I make the blind part of the landscape. I might put the blind up against a backdrop like the roots of a fallen tree, or I’ll set the blind up in a depression in the ground to help break up the outline of the blind. Then I put as many dead branches as possible on and around the blind to make the blind disappear. Many blinds have brush loops on them that can hold limbs or twigs. Check out Carnivore Hunting Products. They make a product called the Branch Clamp that will clamp branches to a blind. A brushed in blind will often be overlooked by deer and other game animals.

MISTAKE 3: Not Being Scent Free


Wearing dark clothing is a must when hunting
from a pop-up blind.

A pop-up blind is made of fabric and like clothing, it will hold the smell of the environment it is kept in. If the blind is stored in a musty basement ten months a year, deer will probably smell the blind long before they see it. To eliminate this problem, air out the blind before taking it to the woods and spray it down with a scent killer spray. Don’t store the blind in a garage, pickup truck or in a closet next to the potpourri scent used to keep the house smelling fresh. If you leave a blind out for long periods, all odors will dissipate – that’s one advantage of leaving a blind in the woods.

MISTAKE 4: Assuming that Moving Around In the Blind Is OK

Hunters often think that moving around in a pop-up blind is acceptable because the blind will conceal movement. This is only partially true. Last year, I had a record class mule deer bust me when I tried to clip my release onto the bow string. Deer can see into a blind. To avoid this problem, I often wear black and shut most of the windows except for one or two. When a deer looks in, they see only black.

MISTAKE 5: Over-Reliance On a Blind


Hunting from the ground can be exciting and rewarding.

Don’t assume the only way to hunt from the ground is from a blind. In the last five years, I’ve killed several bucks while hunting with a bow from the ground without a blind. I wear a 3D leafy suit and hide in the brush. For hunters who don’t own a blind, this is a great option. Think of it as a blind you wear.

Hunting from the ground can be exciting and rewarding. Is it more difficult than hunting from a treestand? Yes. However, deer are easier to outsmart than most people realize, and by avoiding the mistakes discussed above, killing a buck on the ground is very possible.


tracy-breen-336x420About Tracy Breen

Tracy is a full-time outdoor writer and consultant in the outdoor industry. He works with a variety of outdoor brands and television shows including Havalon Knives and the MeatEater. Learn more at

Click here to read more articles by Tracy Breen.

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8 Responses to Hunting From a Ground Blind:
5 Common Mistakes Hunters Make

  1. Really wonderful Blinds for Hunting.

  2. Bob McCann says:

    I have hunted in ground blinds for a few years now and I like them better than tree stands. The problem I have with them is my eyes aren’t that good . I never hear this come up, but in low light, even just a cloudy day, I can’t see my bow sights at all. I had to get away from peep sights and that helped some. I use a ring behind my pins with a notch kinda like a rifle sight. I still can’t always see my pins though. I have seen some sights that would probably work, but I can’t afford them. I’ve been using the same Hoyt Magnatec for years because I can’t afford to by new bows all the time like my buddies do. I’m not complaining, I’ve shot a lot of deer with that old bow, just letting you know the reality of my situation. When you have kids to feed, the reality is your not going to spend that kinda money on something and let something go that your kids need. So if you have any idea’s I would appreciate it very much. Thank you.

  3. David Patterson says:

    to see pins better in dark a drop of white out on the back of each will help not a cure all but it will help. baseball catchers use it on their fingers so pitchers can see signs better

  4. Kenny slater says:

    My blind is on an old deck
    So we can have it off the ground
    Should i brush it up alot
    Or just a little

  5. Greg Meyer says:

    I have you looked into a no peep? I bought a used Mathews Switchback XT at the end of last season and love the bow. It came equipped with a Timberline No Peep. I didn’t know what it was and the pro shop was hesitant to encourage me to set it up because they said they are difficult to set. So I took it off and threw it in the bin of old parts. During the off season I did some research to figure out what it was and if it was truly worth it or not. It is basically a device that creates a visual anchor point within your sight. When it is properly set, it eliminates the need for a peep and kisser button. It provides instant visual feedback of your form, most importantly if you are putting any torque on your bow. I LOVE this device. Since setting it and using it, I ignore my peep and dead ring my shots every time. It has conditioned me to use good form as well. I highly recommend them. You could probably find a used Timberline No Peep on EBay or other places that sell used gear for a modest price, maybe around 30 dollars. To my knowledge they are not in production any more. However, and I know money is tight and that is completely understandable, Field Logic seems to have the bought out the No Peep and has integrated into their IQ Bow Sight Line. These sights start around 100 dollars, but they are 3 pins and up and include a built in no peep device. Do some research before you purchase to see if it will work for you. All the best and keep hunting! Oh, and by the way, it only took me about 20 minutes to set it up. My pro shop was being lazy!

  6. Rowan Oakhaven says:

    Great article. I have LLHS… Late-Life Hunting Syndrome. I just got into it three seasons ago. I didn’t plan to commit to ground hunting, but in my first season I spot and stalked some does across a pasture and later that day had some spook, go up the ridge I was climbing, and come back my way. I didn’t have much of a backdrop, so I just “played like a bush” and waited until they passed behind trees to draw. Unfortunately in the first case I got winded by a shifting wind. In the second I missed high the first time because I didn’t realize I was so close. They actually came around a second time and I missed low that time. DUOH! Still, that obviously means they never quite figured out where the shot came from even though I wasn’t even in a blind or anything.

    I’m still working on getting my first… mostly because I’m self-taught and have yet to really get a good sense of pinpointing food and bedding (it’s all oak woods where I hunt so EVERYWHERE is food). But… I have committed to the ground game. I know it may be a long time before I get my first deer, but I’d rather hunt in a manner I enjoy than one I don’t simply because it’s touted as more of a “sure thing.” Nothing against tree stands and their users. I just feel “stuck” if I’m up in a tree. On the ground I feel more a part of the woods.

    I’ve taken to mostly brushing in blinds, but I also use a ghillie suit or ASAT leafy suit and a ghillie blind that is just like those “backpacker blinds” but made out of ghillie material. I’m working on a ghillie hat right now to combine with the ASAT leafy jacket. It seems the big thing is really breaking up the outline of the head and shoulders. Plus that will be better for warm weather when the full ghillie jacket may be a bit much.

    Anyway, yeah, hunting the ground may be a big bite for a relative newbie like myself. But I really enjoy it so I just decided to dedicate myself to it rather than go for a tree stand because it would be “easier.”

  7. HavalonKnives says:

    Good luck with the hunting, Rowan. I’m sure you’ll get something soon!

  8. David Hudson says:

    Really Wonderful blinds of hunting

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