Whether this is your first deer season or you have a wall full of mounts, the ground blind vs tree stand debate is sure to come up with your fellow hunters in preparation for the upcoming season.
Both the tree stand and the ground blind are helpful tools for camouflage, and they can even provide an advantageous angle for taking down a high-scoring buck.
But, like any other piece of hunting equipment, they have advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s explore some of the benefits and drawbacks of both to help you decide which tool to use this deer season.
Advantages of Hunting from a Ground Blind
Ground blinds are excellent tools for both bow and rifle seasons, especially for hunters posting up in thick woods or less than 100 yards away from a feeder.
For those out of the loop, a ground blind is, essentially, a small, camouflaged tent with a zip or Velcro enclosure that keeps hunters out of sight and protected from the elements.
Some advantages of ground blinds include:
- Easy setup and breakdown (making them an excellent choice for public land hunts)
- Concealment in close range to your targets
- Low-risk operation, installation, and entrance/egress
- Protection from wind and precipitation
The proximity that ground blinds can afford is beneficial during archery season when close range is ideal for making a lethal shot.
Ground blinds are also excellent for youth hunts—they conceal antsy young hunters’ fidgeting—and pairs hunting since more than one person can fit inside.
If you spend a little time and effort on your ground blind, you can also apply products to it to make it even more waterproof than the manufacturer provided. Waterproofing a ground blind's seams and external surfaces can provide you with a properly prepared shelter in the worst of conditions.
In sum, the ground blind exemplifies safety, simplicity, spaciousness, and concealment.
Advantages of Hunting from a Tree Stand
Tree stands are also valuable for both archery and rifle seasons, and their elevation from the ground literally provides a birds-eye view of your hunting location. There are three basic types of tree stands:
- Climbing stands
- Hang-on stands
- Ladder stands
Each type attaches to a tree, raising the hunter off the ground and providing a seated lookout.
Some other advantages of tree stands include:
- Protection from irritants or inconveniences on the ground, like poison ivy, thorns, and mud
- A position out of the sightlines of bucks—they’re unlikely to look up unless prompted by a sound
- Ease of camouflage with netting
- Improved maneuverability with your weapon
The last item on the list, improved maneuverability with your weapon, is the best benefit in the opinions of some hunters. Ground blinds typically have—for lack of a better term—blind spots since hunters can only point their weapons out of peepholes in the tent. In a tree stand, hunters can turn, point, and shoot in nearly every direction.
They can also be left in trees on private land after the season ends, making them a semi-permanent solution for hunters using the same lease for multiple years in a row.
Disadvantages of Hunting from a Ground Blind
As mentioned above, ground blinds don’t offer as much visibility as tree stands. Ground blinds feature peepholes situated in strategic locations around the blind, and they can be opened and closed with zippers or Velcro.
But, shooters are limited to these peepholes, so they don’t get a 360° view of their hunting area.
Hunters also have to deal with the foliage or debris on the ground since most ground blinds don’t have floors. Anything laid on the floor of a ground blind—like a tarp—could create noise, disturbing wildlife.
Anyone who has tent-camped can tell you that tents aren’t remarkably durable. They develop holes and tears and fade over time, so hunters must replace them every few years, especially if they leave them assembled on private land after the season ends.
While strategic placement is useful for any hunting box, stand, or blind, potential locations for a ground blind can be limited.
Hunters need to purchase a camouflage pattern or shade that matches the landscape of their ideal hunting spot. So, if your lease includes thick woods, grassy plains, and rocky cliff faces, you have to purchase a ground blind camouflaged for each specific environment.
Disadvantages of Hunting from a Tree Stand
For some hunters, tree stands pose more inconveniences than benefits.
Firstly, they can be cumbersome to transport, and some stands require multiple people to install.
Ladder stands, for instance, are infamously large, heavy, and need at least two people to install safely.
It’s recommended that hunters test out their tree stands on a tree at home before taking it into the field to learn how to assemble and install it correctly. While practicing tree stand installation is helpful and speeds up the process in the field, the process can be time-consuming.
Most importantly, tree stands are incredibly dangerous. Tree stand-related accidents are one of the major causes of hunting injuries and deaths, and hunters should use extreme caution (and should preferably be accompanied by another hunter) while assembling, installing, and climbing into their tree stand.
Don't forget to ALWAYS wear and properly secure an approved safety harness when you're using a tree stand.
Plus, if you prefer hunting in pairs, the average tree stand simply won’t accommodate more than one person.
Another very obvious drawback to the tree stand is the need for a location that contains suitably sized and climbable trees.
A tree stand requires a straight-trunked tree that will allow you to climb to a height of around 15-20 feet. The trunk must have a large enough diameter to safely secure the stand.
Also, it must be located in a spot with proven frequent passing deer traffic.
If you can’t find anywhere with the right trees, or you’re up a tree with no passing traffic, you could be in for a long, lonely wait.
If you use a hang-on tree stand you're also going to have to carry with you a way to climb up into it.
This might involve a set of tree stand climbing sticks or, perhaps, something a little lighter such as climbing steps that strap to the tree.
Either way, if you're using this type of tree stand you're going to be loaded down with even more equipment.
Ground Blind vs Tree Stand: A Matter of Preference
The ground blind vs tree stand debate mostly boils down to personal preference.
If you like the advantages of being elevated, and you typically hunt alone, a tree stand might just become your favorite hunting tool.
If you prefer to hunt in pairs and have a little extra protection from wind and rain, a ground blind is probably the best bet for camouflage in the field.
Whichever option you choose, remember the golden rule of hunting: Safety first!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.