Ground Blind vs. Tree Stand: Key Pros & Cons

February 1, 2021
early morning Hunting Blind

Hunters have long debated the merits of ground blinds and tree stands for hunting whitetail. Although many hunters have sound arguments favoring one or the other, there are pros and cons to both. Learning the distinct benefits and drawbacks of both systems helps you become a better hunter, capable of adapting to the situation.

Ground Blinds

Pros

The primary advantage of a ground blind is comfort. Ground blinds function as tiny houses, providing you with a roof and walls to protect against the elements. They have adequate ground space and legroom for you and your equipment. You can fit them with chairs, gun or bow hooks and other amenities to improve your comfort. Advanced models, such as the Shadow Hunter Outdoorsman 5×6 Octagon, even have flooring.

Ground hunting blinds are generally sold with colors or camo patterns to match the environment and season in which you’re hunting, offering concealment and camouflage to keep you out of the deer’s sight. Local wildlife may be suspicious at recently placed ground blinds, as they are new and unfamiliar additions to their surroundings. Placing the blinds in advance gives local wildlife the time to get used to the new structures. You can also use the brushing-in technique by covering the blinds with local foliage, such as brushes, branches or leaves.

When well-placed, ground blinds provide exceptional camouflage, allowing the hunter to keep the element of surprise for longer. Most modern ground blinds are box-shaped, providing three or four windows from which to shoot. Well-designed models such as the Shadow Hunter Blinds Marksman 5×6 Octagon have additional angles and windows, silent window actuation systems and the interior height to use compound bows.

hunters walking to Hunting Blind

Cons

To be effective, hunters must place ground blinds in locations along a deer trail, such as near a food source. For example, deer enjoy acorns and fruits the most, so an ideal location to place your blind is on the edge of an orchard or forest. Hunters in blinds are at ground level and, therefore, at risk of having their scent picked up by the deer. It is essential to place the blind downwind, limiting the number of suitable spots.

Although ground blinds can be moved relatively easily when necessary, changing spots can be a hassle particularly for bowhunters, whose effective range is much shorter—at approximately 50 yards—than that of rifle hunters, which is 300 yards or more. Closing the windows improves concealment but hurts visibility. You need to have at least one window open to shoot, but not so many that you become visible to the deer, defeating the purpose of the hunting blind. A hunter in a ground blind is firing on a flat plane, making missed shots potentially more dangerous, especially if other hunters are in the area.

Hunter with rifle in a tree stand

Source: Bridges Photography / shutterstock.com

Tree Stands

Pros

Tree stands are the simplest type of elevated hunting platform. They are structures constructed of wood or metal mounted to or against a tree, featuring a ladder and seating on which to wait. Tree stands provide elevation, which offers hunters a certain level of protection against detection. Even if the deer picks up your scent, deer rarely look above their eye level, as their natural predators rarely attack from above.

When sitting on a tree stand, your angle of fire is downward, which significantly reduces the risk to other hunters in case of a missed shot. The most significant benefit of a tree stand is the unparalleled field of view. With no walls or windows to worry about, you have complete oversight of your surroundings. The elevation also provides a vantage point, allowing you to see farther than at ground level.

Cons

To use a tree stand effectively, you need to find a tree that is in a suitable location and sufficiently large to support installing the ladder and seating. This restriction makes relocating challenging. Although animals such as deer are less likely to detect the scent of threats located above them, they are sensitive to movement. There are no walls or brush to conceal you when sitting in a stand, requiring you to be as still as possible.

Branches and foliage can be in the way of your shooting lines, requiring you to trim them or find another tree. Few things are more frustrating than finding the perfect tree in the ideal location, only to find that half of your field of view is obstructed by branches. Tree stands are not the most comfortable to sit on for extended lengths of time and, if the weather is inclement, they can even be unsafe. It is dangerous to climb on wet, snow-, or ice-covered ladders.

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Final Considerations

Shadow Hunter Blinds offers high-quality, professional-grade hunting blinds and accessories. 

Our Outdoorsman and Marksman series of portable hunting blinds are highly versatile, suitable for bow and gun hunters, and can be set up on the ground or onto elevators. Browse our online catalog and call us at (888) 446-4868 if you have questions about our products.