Bowhunting Whitetails: The Ground Game

By far the most popular method of bowhunting whitetails is from a treestand or elevated ground blind. It has been the preferred technique of bowhunters across the country for decades and will probably remain that way.

An increasingly popular method for taking whitetails is using a pop-up blind placed along trails or food plots. Pop-up blinds can easily be erected and moved to a new location, concealing movement and making hunting in bad weather with kids more enjoyable.

I have hunted from treestands for more than 30 years. I regularly used ground blinds but felt confined and unable to make a move if need be. In the last several years I have tweaked some of my hunting methods when chasing whitetails. I prefer to hunt from the ground without a blind. Many of you reading this may think I am crazy because bowhunting from the ground without a blind is extremely difficult, but achieving success from the ground is possible and gives you a rush as you draw back on a target buck at eye level.

Hunting from the ground allows a hunter to be mobile and to get into places that archers using treestands might not be able to reach.

There’s obviously more to hunting from the ground than putting up a store-bought blind, or building a natural blind and thinking the deer will not notice the intrusion. Location, location, location should still be the main focus, but reading terrain and the way deer will use it is key.

The advantage of bowhunting from the ground without a blind is that it allows you to hunt where sometimes you can’t go with a treestand set. Many times, those places such as thickets, young pine plantations, cut-overs, and even certain planted wildlife openings are where deer are most concentrated. The key is to always remember that effective kill range is going to be inside of 40 yards, and at ground level, your kill angle will be larger than from a stand. In any situation where hunting from the ground is an option, you must play the wind even more wisely and make sure that your setup doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

When hunting from a treestand, you can sometimes overcome a marginal wind. That is not the case on the ground where the South’s fickle winter winds can blow from around the compass in one afternoon sit, especially close to the coast. Besides playing the wind, it’s also a good idea to make sure your clothes and you are as scent-free as possible. The mobility of hunting from the ground can help overcome shifting winds. I have moved as many as three times in one sit while tucked into a hedgerow and still saw plenty of deer.

Any “blob” sitting on the ground gets noticed by a  whitetail instantly.

Breaking up your outline falls into the same camp as wearing camo, but instead of trying to mask your head, arms, and legs, you are trying to mask the shape of your body. Here is how you do not want to hunt from the ground: sit in sparse vegetation with no ground cover when you expect to shoot deer relatively close to you. Any “blob” sitting on the ground gets noticed by a whitetail instantly. Do not sit against a fence post unless you are hunting with a rifle and you expect your target to be at least 100 yards out.

Instead, increase your chances of success while deer hunting by sitting at the base of a tree, stump, rock, or even a small dirt pile/hill that is at least as tall as the top of your head while sitting and at least as wide as your shoulders. This completely breaks down your silhouette and makes you disappear into the object you are sitting in front of, especially since you will have on your camo cloths, gloves and face mask.

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Jason Ashe
Jason Ashe is an avid whitetail deer enthusiast and avid hunter from the finger lakes region of New York. A full time social media specialist in the outdoor industry and habitat specialist with Mid-Lakes Whitetails, Jason has been featured in such publications as Quality Whitetails numorouse times and been paired with hunting greats in Outdoor Life for his knowledge and passion for hunting mature deer. Turkeys, Coyotes also top the list of game that Jason pursues in any down time he has from whitetails. He consideres himself lucky to have whitetails and hunting be a part of everyday life. His wife Laura also shares in his passions along with their 2 children.