Last week the conversation was about tree stands. Without going into finite details their 1) Advantages and, 2) Disadvantages were discussed. Other matters such as a potential fall was not talked about. Yet the sheer fact of being 15 to 20 feet above ground implies the need for caution and a safety harness, especially in the case of those whose life styles don’t include climbing ladders or trees in the use of pegs attached thereto.
< Tide out, notice the ladder.
I was born into an East Coast fishing community where the public wharf for docking fishing boats was only about 200 yards/meters from our house. Being a part of the Bay of Fundy (Google: Bay of Fundy Tides: Highest in the world) with tides ranging from 21 feet to 28 feet from low to high tides at our location – depending on the phases of the moon, the Earth’s rotation and location in its yearly voyage around the Sun — and tides rising and falling about twice daily (actually 24 hours and 53 minutes average), required the use of ladders built into the sides of the dock. We used them for getting “on board” our fishing vessels. Sometimes during “high water” (when the tide was “in”) the boats were more or less at eye level when we boarded, and we could step from the dock onto the deck of the boat. But mostly the sea level was somewhere between “high and low tide” due to the sea water level being about an hour late to where it was the previous day, so on one morning the sea level at the dock might be, say, at 15 feet below dock level and the next morning at 16, and so on until it starts to rise again in the tide’s cycles.
One of my “jobs” on the Bob & Stan (named after my dad’s youngest son and my uncle’s son) was to tote water on board. (That had changed when the new, larger boat had a built-in water tank that held several hundred gallons.) That consisted of two 5 gallon metal containers with spouts (with screw-on caps) and a larger opening on top for filling with screw-on caps. At age fifteen I started carrying those from a source of water supply to the wharf, then another 150 feet to where the boat was docked, then down the ladder (one can at a time) whether the boat was “eye” level or 20 feet below. One hand was used for holding the 5 gallon container of water and the other for grabbing the 1″ thick round steel rungs. Of course we’d stay on the first one forever if we didn’t let go as we stepped down to the next rung for our boots, and the next one in turn for my right hand! We knew that if we missed one for the boots or hand… well, should that happen it would be very sad news for the family and community. SO, WE NEVER MISSED A RUNG either for hand or boot!
I practice the same carefulness for a hunting tree stand — ladder type! Some have lost their lives by falling from tree stands, especially early on in their manufacture and use. Others have ended their careers as hunters becoming cripples! SO!!! Let’s not be foolish or careless in their use! My best hunting buddy for many years disliked tree stands — he preferred to have his feet on the ground. But if circumstances dictated he use one, he was especially careful!
<This was my tree stand on private property until removed at the end of the 2015 bear season.
I really like ground blinds — not the manufactured kind, but natural ones constructed from deadfalls, brush, tree limbs or small trees. But I have also used green indoor-outdoor carpet remnants! Ground blinds work especially well from a higher elevation, such as the side of a ridge, looking from a downward angle toward natural game habitat at a lower level. Actually, they serve as well (or better) as a tree stand with a possible elevation of +25 to +40 feet above the target area with boots still on the ground! Of course, all that depends on the area. Where I’ve done most of my hunting over the past forty years has been on variable terrain — not much flat ground — including differing heights of ridges, ravines, marshes, streams and various sized lakes and ponds. So it’s not too difficult to find ideal locations for blinds, or the natural materials for constructing them. Over time they will again become part of the wilderness from which they were created. No one in passing through will ever notice! And it’s possible to construct several in a given area on Crown Land. So, in review these are their…
Advantages: 1) Feet always on the ground; 2) More room for movement without detection by game; 3) Ability to leave the blind for any reason without much disturbance; 4) Several ground blinds can be created in the same general area; and 5) Ground blinds built from natural sources cost $0.00!
Several blinds has immense value: Depending on wind direction and time of day, we may want to move for better shelter from the wind or having it in our face rather than carrying our scent into the nostrils of the game being pursued. Also, a view of the same area with the Sun at our backs rather than shining directly into our eyes, or on us, that might expose our position more readily to the searching eyes of game or predators.
In other words, as we would normally do in switching from one side of a marsh or pond to the opposite, as the Sun moves from east to west during the hunting day. If we had no blind we’d normally do that on foot anyway to keep ourselves in the shadows and the game exposed to sunlight. If only one ground blind is possible in a given terrain, it should be located as near north or south of the area being watched as possible to avoid the Sun shining into our eyes in early morning or late afternoon.
Disadvantages: Some have been briefly hinted at under Advantages, being; 1) A single blind of natural construction from brush or forest material is fixed and cannot be moved, much like a tree stand. That’s why it has been suggested to have a second, opposite each other (if possible), or possibly at 90 degrees from the main one as an option if the first has been discovered by game or predators, or as a better option due to weather changes or time of day.
I had to do that on a hunt for a particular bear that knew the location of the permanent ground blind. I’ve previously written on this in detail, but the focus was on a bear’s knowledge and awareness of what he considered his home turf.
2) A natural blind in a fixed location is subject to seasonal deterioration due to potential storms with high winds and/or disturbances by wild animals, plus dying branches and leaves. So they often need renovation. Nothing should be hammered in place with nails, but the use of a strong cord, rope or tough string works very well. Remember, these are temporary structures. So the best time for any repairs or changes should NOT be during the hunt itself but, rather, when we are quite certain of not disturbing the game being hunted. Of course… we can never be 100% sure of that.
3) Finally, since a ground blind is usually in lieu of a tree stand on Crown Land (public land), it should not be located too close to trails used by hikers, campers, ATV’ers or fishermen passing by. The reasons should be obvious to those with much experience in such territory, where it could be too accessible for human disturbances or interference with the blinds themselves.
Of course, there’s an obvious market for “store-bought” blinds and shelters. They wouldn’t be manufactured unless there were buyers! Depending on several factors, such as: territory, public land or private, game pursued, etc., there may be some advantages. However, in my experience with ground blinds and tree stands, they WILL sooner or later be discovered by wildlife! What then?
I’ve had bears tear down my blinds and tear holes in “new” indoor-outdoor green carpet material! Several bears wouldn’t come to baits as long as someone was in a blind or tree stand! So the ability to construct blinds and/ or tree stands in alternate locations is a factor of significance for “local” deer and bear. For others attracted to food sources from “out of town”, initially unfamiliar with the territory, it may not make a lot of difference, but for the “locals”, they already know what we’re doing, when and where… This 450 lb bear made his show at 6:07 pm in daylight because I was NOT in my tree stand 85 yards to the right — and he knew it!
And likely “Why”!
Count on it!
The element of SURPRISE will be non-existent!
That’s why IMPROVISATION is a preferred mode of hunting when animals know our habits and schedule! In the case of that bear I needed a change of schedule!
And that’s up-coming next…