Constructing Ground Blinds in the High Desert By PSE’s Albert Quackenbush
By Albert Quackenbush
It is essential to be hidden from plain view when trying to arrow a big game animal. They are smart and have lightning fast response time. We use camouflage, face paint, natural surroundings and blinds to give us an edge. For most of us DIY hunters, saving money is also essential in keeping our wallets full and our spouse happy. Instead of buying an expensive ground blind, you can reduce the cost dramatically by making your own ground blind when in the field. I will focus on deer hunting, but these practices can be used for other game animals as well.
First and foremost, you must know and understand the laws regarding hunting public and private land for your city, county and state. Believe it or not, there are laws in many places dictating whether or not you can trim a tree on public land. Common items you will find in my pack at all times are a set of pruners. On public land I will use them to trim dead branches or fallen branches. On private land, I will trim whatever the landowner allows me to. For the purpose of this blog I am going to focus on public land ground blinds.
Second is ease of use and accessibility. I don’t have the luxury of hunting close to any road. No, I have to hike in a mile or more in order to find a decent spot to set up. For that reason I don’t use a pop-up blind as they are heavy, bulky and awkward to carry over long distances. While I do a fair share of spot and stalk hunting, I do like setting up in a funnel or pinch point. In the past, I have carried in roll-up blinds to hide my shape from the deer. The drawbacks are carrying it, weight and breaking up the shape of the blind itself. You still need to brush it in when hunting deer because of the straight edges. It defeats the purpose, right? When there isn’t much cover and I have to hike in a long distance I construct my own ground blind.
Spot and stalk is one of the preferred methods of hunting out here. When I construct a ground blind I take into consideration that I may locate an animal and need to get after it quickly or get a more open area for a shot. I choose a spot that will give me plenty of protection visually, but also give me an escape without impeding my mobility. What I mean by this is that I will at least give myself an open area to dash out if need be. When choosing my spot I also make sure that I have plenty of shooting lanes.
I will find a funnel, pinch point, food source or well used trail and set up a blind in an ambush area. I am certain to choose a spot where my back is against a bush or brush so that it breaks up my outline. A tree that is as wide as or wider than my shoulders is preferred, but in the high desert where I hunt, finding a tree can prove difficult to find.
Clearing the ground of debris is next on my mental checklist. Loose branches and leaves are shuffled to the imaginary edge of where I think the edge of the finished blind will be.
In my pack I carry a large piece of camouflage netting. I will string this between the bushes or across the brush and anchor it. This netting will break up my silhouette and will hide me better from approaching animals. Once I get it to where it isn’t flapping around, I then spend a few minutes collecting downed branches, large and small. If I can find some with leaves on them that is a plus. When I find a branch that is too large I take out my pruning shears and clip them down to make them smaller. Stack them about two feet high if possible and be sure to make it dense enough so you can’t see through it. If you can see through, so can the deer! I collect grasses and weeds and tuck them into the crevices to be sure a deer can’t see through my set up.
After the outside looks good, I get behind the blind and draw my bow. I do this to ensure I have plenty of shooting lanes and that the netting or any branches do not impeding my shooting. If I find a branch in my way I get out my pruners and trim them back. Once that is set, I am ready to hunt.
After my hunt, I am sure to take the blind apart. I remove the branches and weeds and scatter them around. Then I take down my netting and pack it up. Because I hunt public land, most times I set up a blind it is used only once, unless I find this is a great area with little pressure. Even then, I tear down the blind so other hunters don’t spot it and also figure out it’s a good spot.
Albert Quackenbush has been bowhunting for more than 28 years. He shares his adventures on his blog, www.SoCalBowhunter.com, and also writes for Bow Adventures e-magazine. He is a Pro Staff member for DIYbowhunter.com, Piranha Custom Bowstrings and Field Logic. He is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Deer Association, and is a Life Member of the North American Hunting Club.
Albert was born and raised in New York State where he learned to hunt everything from squirrels to whitetail deer. He currently resides in Southern California with his wife and daughter and hunts year round.