This past weekend was the opener for archery season of the Citrus Wildlife Management Area. And I tell you folks, that 50,000-plus acres of mostly upland forest is my most favorite place to hunt. Not only is it a property rich with beauty, but it’s loaded with deer too. It’s the crown jewel of Citrus County and I’ve hunted it since I was a child.
This past weekend, I wasn’t hunting. Being an archery-only hunt and my hand not yet healed enough to draw my bowstring, I was relegated to the role of guide instead. Three different hunters sought my help in getting their deer this past weekend. None of them actually took a shot, they still were afforded opportunities to invite a deer home for supper, but for one of any number of reasons they couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. All three ended their weekend sporting some pretty wide grins, so their hunts were a success.
One of my hunters commented on the way I build my ground blinds out of whatever natural cover is present at the ambush site. Most people can walk on by and never know they’d just passed within 10 yards of another hunter; but isn’t that whole point? I want the deer to do the same, walk on by without detecting me or my hunters.
I begin by intensely scouting an area and locating the best place to build the blind based on the travel sign of the deer and I’ll look for native cover to slip into. If there’s a palmetto patch, scrub oak thicket or thickly hanging vines, I’ll get behind them and cut and trim out an area big enough to allow me to sit comfortably with a bow. I don’t touch the outer exterior of the cover, leaving it largely untouched, so that the deer don’t suspect a thing. Any limbs I trim, I’ll use to weave into a backing, to prevent my being spotted from behind. Now, if there is any need for more cover, I’ll exit the area, trim enough limbs from a similar tree and weave them in, inside of the original front-facing cover.
What’s left is as natural of a ground blind as ever you’ll find and will not be likely to alert an old buck that something is amiss. A big tip I’ll pass on to you now is once you’re satisfied with the look of your ground blind, rake the floor of the hide out till your feet will be resting on bare dirt. Dirt is quiet, leaves are not, so take the time to rake it all out, lest you rustle a foot in the leaves and alert the buck you’re aiming down on, that something is wrong.
For one of my hunters, a young lady out for her first deer, this was the first time she’d ever hunted on the ground, eye to eye with a whitetail. He had a few does come by her at spitting distance, along a well-used trail and she was really excited about the encounters. She had seen many deer before, while perched 20 feet up a tree, but it was her first time being so close, while on the ground and the deer unaware. You can bet, she’ll be back.
I thank you so much for allowing me the chance to visit with y’all here each week. All feedback is welcome and I love to hear a good hunting story, so feel free to reach out to me at RebelYellOutdoors@Gmail.com. God bless and good hunting!