Hunting black bears from a ground blind adds an extra element of excitement. Here’s what you need to know to get the right blind for bear hunting, and for whitetail deer, too.
Hunting from ground blinds opens a new chapter in how exciting bear hunting can be. The chance to look a bear in the eyes and hear it breathing close to your blind puts a new perspective on the situation.
There is a natural fear of bears, and being right on the playing field with them can be overwhelming at first. However, take a deep breath and remain calm; there is nothing to fear. That bear is there to feed on the bait you are watching. Because of a bear’s inquisitive nature, it may wander near the blind to check you out. This happens, and in my experiences the result always is the same – the bear goes back to feeding without incident. Always respect a bear, but you do not have to fear it.
Ground blinds allow you to get away with more movement, which is a big plus. However, your ability to see is more restricted than from a tree stand. Ground blinds are warmer, too, trapping your body heat and blocking the wind. This helps contain your scent.
HUNTING BLIND BASICS
- Be sure you can move around inside the blind from window to window without interference.
- The blind material must be quiet; plastic-style blind skins do not work.
- The blind should be easy, fast and quiet to set up.
- Once the blind is up, the material should be tight and not be able to move in the wind. Loose material will spook a bear.
- You do not want the bear to see your outline in the blind nor see you move. No matter which blind you use, be certain the interior is totally black. Always were dark camouflage clothing; black clothing from the waist up also works.
- Blind Windows
Blinds normally have a number of windows of different sizes and heights, some horizontal, some vertical. Vertical windows allow shooting at different distances. All windows must open and close easily and quietly.
Velcro tabs are not a good window fastener choice; they are too noisy. Look for a blind with hook-style window fasteners, so you can open and close windows with no noise. Also, with the hook window fastener, you can twist window material in the middle to have the window partially open. You need only a narrow slit at the right height to be able to better observe the surroundings.
NEVER sit so you are in line with two open windows. You will be silhouetted. An approaching bear could catch any move you make. This usually is best handled by having all back windows shut and side windows open only in the front part (for checking approach trails) or not at all.
- Blind Size and Height
If you gun hunt, a compact blind will be fine because the only movement you make will be to lift and aim
the gun. If you will have your gun resting on a shooting stick at the proper level, you may not even need to lift
- Sit far enough back, away from any open windows, so neither you nor the gun barrel can be seen. Do not have the gun barrel sticking out the window. On the other hand, you will want the muzzle at least even with the window, or slightly outside it, when you squeeze the trigger. Failure to do that could lead to an ear-damaging, extremely loud tent upon the shot.
If you are a bow hunter, there are two tsizes of blinds to consider. With a compound, a smaller blind will fill the bill; just be sure it is tall enough for top limb tip clearance and you are sitting high enough for bottom limb tip clearance. With recurves and longbows, height of the blind’s top and width must be considered. Most recurve and longbow shooters cant their bow. This brings blind width into consideration for limb tip clearance on sides and top. The longer limbs of these two bow styles may require a taller blind than you would use with a firearm or a compound bow.
You MUST test every possible bow movement, including drawing, to determine exactly where you will sit for complete clearance in every direction when you draw.
For a dry run at home, sit on your shooting chair and have a helper take measurements for straight ahead, left and right shots, and for necessary height to guarantee limb tip clearance. This will give you the information you need to buy a large enough blind, and, of course, if you’re uncertain, err on the high side.
LIGHT DRAW BOWS OK
A ground blind is great for young hunters and lighter draw weight bows. You can sit in the blind with a youngster and help coach him or her through the whole process, reassuring them and giving them confidence. A blind also will hide the inevitable fidgeting a young hunter will make.
Hunting from a ground blind gives you an opportunity to shoot side to side through the bear in the bottom third of its body. There will be no heavy bone structure to shoot through, as there would be when shooting from a tree stand. You thus have a much better chance for a pass-through arrow and a quick, heavy blood trail.
SETUP AND TAKEDOWN NOTES AND WARNING
Blinds need to be set up and taken down quietly and quickly, so choose a blind that is light and has a carrying case for easy transportation. The less noise you make and the faster you get it done the less area disturbance you create.
Always set up the blind when you go to hunt. Be sure to allow enough time to set up the blind, get into the blind and get set, with enough time to let the area cool down from your disturbance.
If you bait and stay there to hunt, put a sealable cover on the bait bucket and stash it in the blind. If the thought of that makes you uncomfortable, hang the pail, unsealed, in a nearby tree in such a position that a bear standing to check it out will open itself up for a good heart/lung shot.
Important: Always … repeat, always …take the blind with you every time you are done hunting for the day. Bears may destroy the blind when you are not there. I have had this happen. Taking down the blind when you leave, then setting it up again the next time you hunt that bait, is extra work but well worth it. Blind replacement can get expensive.
A ground blind for bear does not have to be buried in brush, as you often must do for deer. However, I still like to put the blind among brush or branches to break the outline a bit. The less noticeable the blind the better.
- This how-to tip is excerpted from THE BEAR HUNTING OBSESSION OF A DRIVEN MAN, a new 172-page book by Bill Wiesner with Glenn Helgeland. Wiesner is a 40-year veteran of black bear hunting who has taken 57 bears using every type of legal hunting arm.