Quite often tactics used for deer hunting come around full circle over time. Just a mere 30 years ago, virtually no deer hunter had ever heard of a factory-manufactured lock-on tree stand, ladder stand or climber, much less seen or used one. A few hunters built elevated tree houses to hunt out of, some fabricated pallet platforms up in a tree, or others more likely just wedged a 2x6 board into the Y-juncture of two tree-trunk limbs.

Still others with a little ingenuity built wooden ladder stands and posted them all over woodland deer-hunting areas. In many places today, these old rotted abandoned stands can still be found in whitetail country as a visual reminder of early advancements in hunting tactics used many seasons ago.

Be smart, and forget hunting from these old stands because of the safety factor. Besides, hunting deer from a position of height is not the only effective strategy.

Indeed, before the advent of homemade stands in modern times, and well before assembly-line tree stands crafted of welded metal and padded fabric seats came on the deer hunting scene, everyone basically hunted deer on the ground.

I fondly recall taking my first antlered deer in Missouri back in the early 1970s. While sitting against a tree, I shot the buck not 50 feet in front of me. In those days, a tree stand meant standing by one, not climbing up into it.

Now we have come full circle again, but with a significant twist. More and more deer hunters are either abandoning their lofty perches altogether or at least splitting their time between skyward tree stands and ground blinds. However, today, ground blinds can be a much different affair.

Blind benefits

When deer hunting, being as unseen as possible is best. Being able to conceal or block careful movements to avoid whitetail detection is equally paramount. Having a position close to the deer action yet well hidden is important.

It is ideal to have placement where either a wide spectrum view of a whitetail haunt is obtained or a clear shot at a narrow perspective of whitetail habitat, a travel lane or funnel can be achieved with just the right well-planned set-up. Ground blinds can help hunters achieve such tactical hunting goals.

A ground blind positioned where the hunter can slip into or out of the hunting hideout with little notice, disturbance or contamination to the selected hunting area makes for a perfect situation to observe and hunt deer. With some judicious planning, preparation and hunting area assessment, a ground blind can be set up to maximize nearly all the potential angles of vision around the hunting site. This might be a rectangular food plot, a long power line right-of-way, a heavily used stream crossing and any number of other well-used whitetail hangouts or travel routes.

Ground blinds offer not only an added measure of concealment but a great deal of flexibility as well. Portable ground blinds can be collapsed in a matter of minutes and slipped into a backpack to be moved anywhere else to create a whole new set-up.

Containment-type blinds will also offer an extra degree of human scent-control, reducing or eliminating the need to use extra scent killer sprays except for coming and going from the blind. These blinds also offer some protection from the elements too, like wind, rain and cold to some extent. This feature allows hunters to spend more time in the field and be much more comfortable doing it inside a blind rather than sitting out in the open in a tree stand.

Ground blinding options

Today, ground blinds basically come in two configurations. They are man-made put together in the field or naturally formed by Mother Nature, to which may be added extra supplemental natural or synthetic materials.

The other types are store-bought in a wide variety of designs from simple shielding screens to full blown self-contained tent-type blinds to hard-shell fiberglass, molded plastic or wooden hunting condos with roofs, floors, windows and a whole host of custom features, seat arrangements and other options.

"I've gone back to hunting out of ground blinds now for several seasons," said Billy Hardin of Bolton. "Sometimes I use something created in nature like a depression or dirt mound in the corner of a harvested field just inside the woods line or maybe a little island grouping of trees.

"I pop up a turkey hunting screen-type blind, lay out a few limbs or greenery in front of it, get a good seat cushion or low-profile hunting chair, lay out all my gear and fold out a set of shooting sticks or bipod. Then I can sit back and wait for the action, or take a nap if I want without the fear of falling out.

"If I continue to play the wind right, I will see deer nearly every time, and they never see me, because my movements are hidden.

"Quite often, I might leave the blind in the field for several weeks so long as deer keep coming back into the area. But the whole set-up is so portable that I can easily pack it all up and move it to another spot in the same hunting area."

Last season, the neighbor next to my lease clear cut the whole place just as the hunting season was heating up. The minute the timber crews shut down each day and left the place, the deer would move in.

I found two big logs that fell forming a sort of "L" shape. I sat right down in the 90-degree angle of those logs, making an impromptu ground blind. I placed a jacket over one log for a gun rest, and the deer never detected my hideout.

Every deer hunter should just look around a little where they hunt, and they can locate a number of decent ground blinds created by nature. Just add a seat, maybe some camouflage fabric or cover up any exposed holes with fresh cedar or pine cuttings.

Create a triangle shape or box blind so you can see in all directions around the immediate hunting area. Ideally the terrain behind a blind set up like this would be the least likely direction deer would come. Again, always play the wind right, or spray down with scent killers.

Such ground blinds could be constructed, for example, at all four corners of a field or in numerous other set-up options so the hunter could always use the wind to an advantage. In this way, a whole hunting area could be addressed with multiple contingencies for wind changes or maybe switching weather conditions.

Factory-fabricated tent blinds

All the vogue these days is the pop-up blinds. Basically designed like a small version of a camping tent, some are teepee-shaped versions, while others sport four complete walls with ceilings.

Some of the designs are created for one hunter, but others can easily accommodate two or more hunters. Some are even specifically designed for bowhunters with shoot-through screened windows.

Usually these ground blinds do not have floors, so some quick ground clearing might be needed before setting one up to hunt out of. This should not present a major impediment to their use, but hunters should allow proper time to prepare an area to properly set up the blind.

Fabric blinds certainly add an extra dimension of concealment as well as protection from the varying environmental conditions as the season moves through the winter months. The greater the hunter comfort quotient, the longer the hunter is likely to stay engaged in the task of waiting for a big buck to appear.

Such blinds also give additional containment of human scent, but when winds circulate, it may be prudent to use scent killers on clothes, boots and the blind just as an added precaution.

Another type of fabric blind gaining in popularity has one or two folding seats with a pullover top and zipper closure. These are lightweight and can be set up or moved quickly. The space inside can be a little on the cramped side, but the flexibility of these blinds far outweighs the interior space limitations.

Hard-shell ground blinds

An extension of the sewn-fabric tent-type blinds is the more permanent structures commonly called "condos." These are heavy-duty molded or assembled-panel blinds that appear kin to porta-johns.

But these are much more substantial units, and of course, were created specifically for the purpose of hunting.

Ground-blind condos are the ultimate when it comes to terra-firma hunting stands. Placed virtually anywhere in a good hunting area, these self-contained little "houses" offer 360-degree visibility along with total protection from the elements, complete with a waterproof roof, a dry floor and a locking door. See-through windows can be opened for air flow or locked closed to keep the wind and rain out. Some models come mounted on trailers that can be towed by ATVs or attachable wheels for easy moving about whitetail country.

Manufacturers of these deluxe ground blinds have certainly engineered their products to their target market. Some are large enough to accommodate four hunters, but the most common version is designed for two. Solo hunter condos are also available. Comfort is king in these blinds.

"When I first went shopping for a hunting condo blind, I never dreamed so many options were available," avid hunter Ronnie James said. "Some are big enough for two swivel rolling office-type chairs.

"Features available include little fold-out tables, corner shelves for gear such as binoculars, lots of hooks for hanging gear and extra clothes, padded floor mats and walls dampen noise plus add insulation. If I didn't have to exit my condo occasionally to answer the call of nature, I could easily sit in there all day long with a nab supply, drinks, a book, cell phone and some I-Pod tunes."

James ought to know. He buys one new condo every other year or so to expand his hunting spots.

If you're looking for maximum concealment, and comfort, take a long look at the hard-shell hunting condo blinds.

Set-up tactics

Many words have been written on where to put tree stands and how best to hunt out of them. The issue is virtually the same with ground blinds, except of course the hunting hideout is placed on the ground. There are subtle differences in the set-up tactics that hunters need to know.

After a prime area has been identified and scouted, the next step is to locate an ideal place to position a ground blind. Foremost is a spot that allows open vision of the area. Better also is a spot that permits easy access with minimal exposure to the hunting area. Avoid set-ups that require crossing a huge open area or even traversing a long way around edge habitat.

Factory blinds should be blended into the surroundings benefiting from placement into brush or other natural cover. Placing limbs around the blind in irregular patterns will help further break up the outline of the blind, but make certain vision is not blocked.

Once a set-up spot is selected, put up the blind, then get inside to organize it. Make sure a long-barreled gun or a bow can be easily maneuvered from inside the blind and through shooting ports. Practice quietly moving in the blind and mounting the hunting weapon. Ironing out any kinks in advance of hunting will be time well-spent.

For those hunters gaining on a few years or maybe a few extra pounds who find themselves uncomfortable in a lock-on tree stand 16 feet off the earth, a ground blind is certainly the way to go.