For deer hunters still trying to fill tags the final week of the firearms deer season – and even during the post-Christmas flintlock muzzleloader season patience is not just a virtue, it is more like a necessity.
Unless a hunter is a participant in an organized drive, the choices are stillhunting or monitoring active trails and escape areas that have been discovered during the first week of the season. Stillhunting will decrease the monotony of spending the day on stand, but it can also lead to disappointment and frustration when one misstep at the wrong time results in being busted by a deer that bounds away with farewell wave of its tail.
To avoid this all-too-familiar sight, deer hunting becomes a waiting game that need not be in vain when done properly. All of which has led to the increased popularity of portable ground blinds for use during the rifle season, and hunters are reminded of the new Pennsylvania Game Commission regulation requiring an orange band that is visible in a 360-degree arc be placed on a tree next to any blind that is constructed of man-made materials.
According to Mike Capps, a spokesman for Hunter's Specialties products, location is probably the most important consideration when using a portable ground blind, and rifle hunters a big advantage over bowhunters because of being able to set up farther away from a game trail. Nothing, but nothing, will spook a deer faster than the sight of a blind or anything else that is out of place from what it sees every day.
"Unless a bowhunter has access to private land, their only real option to get close to a deer trail without being detected is hunting from an elevated stand," Capps said. "Usually, it will take a deer several days to get comfortable passing a blind that has been set up close enough to a trail to be within bow range.
"Now, elevated stands are just as effective during rifle season, but being exposed to the weather during Pennsylvania's rifle season and later during flintlock season can be very uncomfortable. Even in a treestand, deer will detect a hunter who is moving in an effort to stay warm.
"For this reason, many rifle hunters who plan to spend the day on stand feel it's worth the effort to use a portable pop-up blind. They provide protection from the weather, retain warmth from the heat of a propane heater and even help cover human scent."
Hunter's Specialties has a variety of blinds and products that range from the bare-bones basic of camouflage cloth to blinds spacious enough for several hunters and items in between. Because of game laws, however, hunters should chose wisely if looking for a one-size-fits-all blind.
Something as simple as the HS Tree Stand Umbrella/Ground Blind, Collapsible "Super Light" Portable Ground Blind or Backpacker Blind are legal to use for deer hunting in Pennsylvania. These are not legal, however, for spring gobbler hunting, as a blind must conceal hunter on all four sides and the top.
For that reason, a better choice for many hunters is the Boiler Room Ground Blind or the 10-10 Hideout Pop Up Blind. An added advantage of the Boiler Room is that it is spacious enough to be used by ice fishermen, but for overall use, the Hideout is at the top of the list.
With an inside height of 6-feet, 3-inches, the Hideout is spacious enough for two adult hunters and is especially popular with female hunters when they need some privacy. It has window opening on all four sides, expands into position and collapses in less than the 10 seconds advertised, is lighter than most backpacks and when carried in its storage bag is easier to transport through the woods than a bow.
"These blinds are effective, but only when consideration is given to their location," Capps said. "We don't recommend sitting them up in the middle of a clearing or out in the open along the edge of a field.
"Make sure to take advantage of the natural cover so that a blind blends into its surrounds, even if its 50 yards or more from a deer trail or feeding area. Once these blinds are up, they can be picked up and moved by one person, so if there is no natural cover, be aware of shadows and move it to keep it out of bright sunlight.
"Another thing that works is to actually set the blind out in an open field where deer are feeding. Yes, they will see the blind when they come to the field, but if it is far enough away, will not be alarmed when they see it isn't moving and often come within rifle range."
It is said that good things come to those who wait, and using a portable ground blind can help deer hunters get their reward.