View Full Version : Rifle deer hunting - ground,blind, or stand?

March 25, 2008, 09:46 PM
I'm going to be starting deer hunting again next season. I was wondering if most of you hunt during rifle season from a tree stand, a blind, or just plain on the ground. I'm most likely going to have to hunt on public land, and I don't know what the rules are as far as setting up a ladder stand or box blind a couple of months ahead of time. What do I need to do to in order to have a successful hunt if I'm forced to hunt from the ground with no stand or blind?

March 25, 2008, 11:02 PM
cover for a blind.
If there some groound yew or wild grape use that to break up your silhouette.
Try and locate your self just below the crest of a rise allowing you some elevation, yetgiving you a good backstop.

March 25, 2008, 11:14 PM
Got another marathon answer - I kind of enjoy regurgitating stuff I've soaked up fairly recently in my own life just as a way of rethinking how the past few years have gone.

Guys with more varied experience will hopefully chime in, mine's fairly limited. The nature of your hunting land will largely determine what is productive. If it's all dense thickets where it's difficult to pattern deer or visibility is poor, picking a spot for a stand might be a challenge. If it is high-pressure and a lot of hunters are bumping deer around, staying put might be just the thing. I've only gone for turkey on public land. Back in Illinois, I was often the only one in the park as far as I knew. Last year in Ohio, I ran into a number of other spring hunters (or rather, knew they were there and stayed away) so it was harder to find a solid spot to hunker down. But as to what little wisdom I can impart on deer...

I deer hunt on family land, so I can hang stands, and usually put up 3 ahead of time. That can be a problem on public land - I know some states have regs about pre-placing stands ahead of time. You can generally never use anything that will damage a tree. I've only shot one deer from a tree stand, and it's tough at range if you don't have any kind of rest for your rifle. However, I've spotted other deer I've shot from treestands, having dismounted first to get a better angle or find something to brace my rifle on. I generally think tree stands are advantageous if you know the land and can place them thoughtfully. Part of thoughtfulness is not just knowing deer will be there, but knowing you can find it in the dark, and that you can get to it without scaring everything off because of noise or unfavorable wind.

Ground blinds are not much different than tree stands, except you don't have the view. I hunt ground blinds a lot less than tree stands, but I've also killed one deer from one of these, shallow hole with some cover around it on a hillside. Much easier to set up your shot in multiple directions, though, and you have a lot more freedom to move. You're also more mobile, as you don't have to go to the trouble of climbing up, down, raising and lowering gear, doing and undoing your safety harness. That's a double-edged sword though. Patience, especially in deer-hunting, is a virtue, and tree stands can force you to be more patient than you would be otherwise. I found that good insulated boots and some sort of cushion to put an air gap between your butt and the ground are more important in ground blinds. The ground will sap your contact points a lot faster than the air will if you're bundled up against the wind.

I have never had much luck still-hunting. I hunt alone (no one to put on a drive with), and the turf I walk on is typically just a mess of sticks and leaves and steep hills, it does not make movement very quiet for an amateur like myself. However, if I make it out for the Ohio shotgun season with friends this year, we'll probably be on public land, and we'll probably still-hunt. The basic gist of it is keep the wind in your face and move as slow as you possibly can. Takes a lot of patience, but there are certainly guys here who will attest to its productivity. Definitely want to practice hasty, unsupported shots if you're interested in still-hunting.

Anyway, I'd say the takeaway is, if you can get to the woods a fair bit ahead of the season and figure out where the deer are travelling, set up a stand (or plan to bring a climber) in accordance with your local regs. Especially if you can find a low-traffic food source or clearing to eyeball. You might not have the best shot on a deer from the stand, but you have a better chance of spotting one to manuever on if you can dismount quietly. On the ground you'll likely employ a mix of standing and still-hunting, perhaps still-hunting between funnels where you can stand for a bit or at dawn and dusk. It's a good way to stay warm and have a little more active hunt, but it is definitely quite a challenge, especially for unaccompanied hunters without experience in the technique.

Get some binocs, too. If your eye catches motion and you scope it to get a better look, you'll really tick off other hunters if they see you sweeping them.

So, as with all threads on this message board regarding calibers, makes and models, technique and strategy, setup, and practice, the answer is "maybe." But hopefully it's been helpful.

Final general note, I will say, a lot of the books, magazines and websites on hunting can be corny, obvious or even somewhat harebrained (as in one guy in one place getting lucky and suggesting you change your whole routine based on his coin tosses). But when you're learning, it's informative nonetheless. When you are reading so much and practicing it in the field for a week a year, it is information overload, and you will forget most of it. But things slowly will start to gel, you'll find yourself with more ideas or recognizing something you read about, and it will ultimately help you close (or at least shrink) the knowledge gap between these lucky fellows that have had generations of practice in the woods.

March 25, 2008, 11:33 PM
on the ground, usually with several of my kids in tow. We know the ground and the deer are fairly predictable. We get to our spot before first light, cop a squat in front of a downed tree, and listen to the woods come alive. We usually have at least one deer walk past us before coffee break at around 10 AM........

"Still hunting" ......... I suggested that to my dad once, and he said if you attempt that, you'll be the only one still hunting when the season closes....

March 26, 2008, 12:13 AM
I find a spot and start glassing. During the middle of the day I'll still hunt (it works if you know what you're doing, especially with archery) and back to a ground stand in the afternoon.

March 26, 2008, 06:00 AM
Reread what bclark1 wrote. He says he's not all that experenced but he's certianly on to it well.

I'll add this:

Here in Florida the land is FLAT, except for the places that are low and wet and they are even FLATTER!

And most of the areas that we hunt are THICK. Sure you can look for places along clear cuts and the like to make long shots but for the most part it's a close game we play. In the last 10 years of the dozens of hogs and deer we've taken only a couple have been over 50 yards, the vast majority less than 25.

With those paramaters we spend most of our time either in a tree when we're after deer. And as we hunt public land we do not set permant stands. Don't do so because you never know when someone will not see your stand and set up too close inadvertently, or worse decide to use your stand.

We always have at least 3 or 4 places marked so that if we see a truck in a area we can quickly go to another. Portable stands, ones that weigh very little and set up quick, are a must for us. Of course we've plenty of trees to chose from so finding a usable one is not much of a problem.

All that said it's also worth noting that we do slip up on a lot of deer while we are still hunting hogs. As bclark1 said you've got to move slow into the wind. On some mornings it may take me a couple of hours to cover a couple of hundred yards. A few steps and stand a look and listen, then repeat.

While you're in the stand take note of how a deer moves through the woods when feeding. Note how slow he really moves and how often he just stops and looks and listens. That's how you need to move....except maybe slower because you'll have a hard time moving as quietly and you can't hear as well even though you can see better.

One last thing.

Thaking a deer up close is far more exciting than shooting one at 200 yards. Ask any of the bow hunters you know.

Jack O'Conner
March 26, 2008, 07:36 AM

I've had fun fooling these vision blessed animals. We make cow silouettes from refrigerator boxes that are reinforced with 1 X 6 lumber. Paint is flat black. Two or three in grazing position are fastened to stakes about 100 yards or so from a well used fence crossing.

We never tried this trick on whitetails but just about any type of blind that hides your shape will work.

I strongly suggest an un-armed dress rehearsal prior to season opener to observe your quarry and shadows at different times of the day. Often, just small overlooked details can ruin a good plan.


March 26, 2008, 07:56 AM
I used to hunt from a blind but the last 10 years or so I've stayed on the ground. Back against a tree, some brush around to break up your outline and I'm pretty confident I've got the same chance as any one in a tree stand. I know too many guys who have fallen out of tree stands and figured I'd stay on the ground before I become one of those guys.

I've had some good sucess hunting from the ground too.

In the last 5 years, with the exception of last year, I've had does walk right up to me. They've actually all been close enough that I could have reached out and grabbed them if I was quick enough. Talk about a thrill to have a doe sniff you from a few feet away! Very cool and a treasured hunting memory. The year before, I had 5 does make it to within 10 feet of me before they caught my wind and backed off.

Now I've only had one buck come real close on the ground and he was maybe 15 yards but I took him before he could either get any closer or back off.

Anyway - I think you can be very successful sitting on the ground with just a little cover.

March 26, 2008, 07:58 AM
I've had fun fooling these vision blessed animals. We make cow silouettes from refrigerator boxes that are reinforced with 1 X 6 lumber. Paint is flat black. Two or three in grazing position are fastened to stakes about 100 yards or so from a well used fence crossing.

I go out west and hunt the wiley pronghorn myself. I've always wanted to try the fake cow trick. Pretty cool it works. Those pronghorn are strange, cool animals. We actually had one race us two years ago. It was amazing to see him run right next to us at a 50 mph clip. Amazing animals.

March 26, 2008, 03:33 PM
Well I just found out that my gun club allows members to hunt on private grounds on the property. I'm thinking I'll go scout it out and once I find a spot I'm happy with, I'll set up either a ladder stand or a ground blind and leave it there until deer season.

March 26, 2008, 04:19 PM
I prefer a good ladder stand or my Ole' Man climber when hunting with a rifle. 15 - 20 feet up is good for me.

March 26, 2008, 05:07 PM
I like stands, but I have hunted on the ground when trying out a new spot to see if it's worth hanging a stand. If you do hunt on the ground you may have to be a little more cautious about scent and wind.


March 26, 2008, 08:35 PM
Always a good idea to have a few places picked out just in case........

I can think of more than one morning when having plan b saved the day.

March 26, 2008, 08:55 PM
Here's a question related to ground blinds. If I'm hunting PA rifle season, which requires hunters to wear blaze orange, and the blind is camo, what do I do? Slap a piece of orange cloth on it?

March 26, 2008, 09:03 PM
Be advised that if you leave a stand on public or private land, it may be stolen. This happens a lot, even on private land. The poachers like to scout, too.

Personally, between a blind and non-blind ground hunting, I'd skip the blind and just set up with my back against some brush/trees, and maybe a little brush in front, too. You'll have to sit really still, and when you move, move very slowly, but I've done that with considerable success in the past. Wear camo (even cheap camo) to help remain hidden, especially camo gloves on your hands.

Maybe the other folks with more blind experience can chime in.

March 27, 2008, 05:22 AM
more aqdvantages to a tree stand, especially a climbing tree stand. they are portable, versatile, generally you have a better line of sight when you're higher in the air and the higher you are the deer are less likely to smell you.

March 28, 2008, 12:58 AM
Dave, the way you hunt is basically up to you... you can read my post on one of your other threads.

For PA style hunting I would place a tree stand near some good trails. In Montana I like walking, sometimes 15 - 20 miles a day

March 28, 2008, 05:57 AM
Good question about blaze orange and ground blind.

i've had the same worry. Usually I just hang a extra hat or a strip of blaze material from a limb that has 360 visabillity close to the blind. And still wear the legally required vest.

March 28, 2008, 06:34 AM
I'm thinking I'll just have my girlfriend sew a piece of blaze fabric over the top of the rain cap that goes on the top of the blind ;)

March 28, 2008, 06:50 AM
1 thing you may concider. Check with your local farmers. Around where I live, they are glad to see the deer removed. They loose to many crops feeding them. I do not like public hunt areas. To many city folks and accicents.

March 28, 2008, 06:52 PM
I prefer treestands but did buy a ground blind 2 years ago. I think being up high in a stand helps with scent control if the wind is right. Have not tried the ground blind yet but one guy on our deer lease hunts out of a ground blind almost all the time. He's had deer walk up to it several times. If he falls asleep in it he doesn't worry about falling out of a tree.........:D

April 7, 2008, 04:48 PM
I am A senior Citizen Hunter, and proud of it I might add. If you are A Senior do not climb. One slip or miscaculation can end your hunting forever. There are many other ways to hunt such as Box stands(on the ground of course),ground blinds,sitting with your back to A tree or other object. I often just drag A few pieces of brush and create A makeshift ground blind. also use cover scents and any other tricks you may have learned over the years. I find these methods to be very effective. You DO NOT have to climb.

April 7, 2008, 05:13 PM
Sureshots said a ton............

I'm 51 and in good shape, not over weight and exercise 3 or 4 times a week in addition to having a job where I get more exercise. Even with that I can say without reservation that I can see very clearly my balance, hand to eye coordination, and reflex speed going south.

I still use a climber and will, when scouting new areas, shimmy up trees to get a look above the palmettos but I am MUCH more careful than in the past.

If you were to tack a few extra pounds and a desk job onto me I'd be seriously considering ways to stay out of trees and still hunt effectively.

Like Sureshot said, a misque could mean your last hunt..........