You can reduce the risk of a whitetail spotting you on the way to your deer blind by constructing a screen.
During the course of the hunting season, it’s easy for “stand burnout” to set in. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, we can at least bet you’ve experienced it a time or two. It’s when the deer pattern your movement after you’ve walked to and from your stand day after day for a few months. In winter, with no foliage on the trees, they can easily pick you out as you sneak toward your blind. When setting your sights on a mature deer, one wrong move – like bumping him on the way to the stand – can hurt your chances of ever seeing him again.
One thing you can do in the offseason to lessen your chances of being busted is building a screen around your deer blind. If it’s located in the middle of a food plot, planting two walls of switchgrass can help to conceal you. On a field edge, tucked into the timber, you can use the trees already there to create a wall of brush. We’ll go over both methods.
Hinge Cut Trees
A blind in the timber may look concealed due to lush summer foliage, but during the winter, you may be exposed as you make your way through the woods. Hinge cutting trees leading up to the blind will increase the cover, shielding you from the watchful eyes of whitetails. This involves sawing mostly through a tree, but leaving some of the trunk intact, and laying it down to create a horizontal barrier.
Construct a long wall 50 yards from your blind (or longer, depending on tree cover) with nearby trees leading up to it. Even a few cut trees, spaced between you and the adjacent food plot, is enough to hide you. If you’re hunting out of an elevated blind, stack brush vertically so that it’ll conceal you as you climb up.
If you have no experience with hinge cutting or operating a chainsaw, don’t attempt to do so until you understand the safety measures, equipment, practices and the mechanics of tree felling. Here are some great resources to get you started:
Plant Screening Grasses
A blind in the middle of a food plot leaves you exposed while accessing it. The remedy is planting vegetation as a physical barrier that leads up to your deer blind like a tunnel. Corn, for example, is an excellent screen that’ll give you plenty of cover – and it’s a good food source. It grows and germinates quickly and is not expensive to plant. Milo and sunflowers are considered screening plants as well, though they don’t grow tall. Big bluestem, Indiangrass and switchgrass, on the other hand, are a great combination that grow tall and remain thick throughout the hunting season.
Anything you plant needs to be able to remain standing when winter weather brings heavy rain or snow. Frigid Forage makes a plot screen blend that has been tested for years in Minnesota’s worst weather. It’s capable of withstanding just about anything short of a tornado. As with any crop, make sure your soil is in good shape and capable of supporting these plants and grasses. Most screening grasses are annual, so they’ll needed to be replanted each spring.
This land-management practice is supported by many states that will help landowners by sharing the cost of the seed. There are several environmental incentives for planting screening grasses such as slowing or stopping erosion and providing another food source and cover for deer, birds and other wildlife. For little cost and not much work, implementing this practice into your hunting land is full of benefits.