August 30, 2016
As a veteran whitetail hunter you spend hours putting up treestands with a goal of making them and you disappear like a politician caught in a scandal.
You've followed the same regiment with ground blinds. If you put them up on-the-go you've meticulously brushed them in for blending purposes.
Some of you simply stake them out in an open field weeks before the season. You hope deer become accustomed to them prior to your hunt and you keep your fingers crossed that a rogue thunderstorm doesn't blow it into the next county before the season.
You could save yourself some time. I'm not suggesting you forgo the chore of camouflaging your presence. Your success will suffer and leave you feeling like a halfhearted celebrity on a rerun of the "Celebrity Apprentice" that just heard the words "you're fired."
What I am suggesting is that as you scout a property, new or old, and take inventory of possible existing hideouts already in place. In short, be on the hunt for junk.
Hunt for Junk
Farms, ranches, woodlots and farming fields across the whitetail spectrum are loaded with leftovers that make great hides for your next hunt.
Why look for junk, dilapidated structures and even new, manmade additions to the rural landscape?
Whitetails react with skittishness, skepticism and outright terror to new elements in their world. Try putting out a ground blind in the middle of your food plot and watch the reaction of deer upon their first visit.
Ignored but Invaluable
Junk, on the other hand, has been sitting idly in the weeds for years, possibly decades. Whitetails don't even look twice at an old tractor rusting in a woodlot. They ignore the creaks of a decrepit farmhouse in decay. An old well house in the middle of a field doesn't get a second glance and the junk pile behind an active farmhouse isn't an eyesore to a passing buck.
Those are just a few of the elements you can incorporate into the perfect ambush site that whitetails have grown accustomed to like you've become accustomed to sleeping beside your spouse. But don't overlook the new either.
New calving sheds, planked windbreaks, a combine left in a field after harvesting, irrigation pivots and a new solar panel used to pump livestock water are also elements deer seldom flee from because of their everyday appeal.
Before you set up surveillance in an old hayloft or even on the top of a 2015 John Deere combine, get in touch with the property owner first.
Make sure they are OK with you utilizing existing junk, structures and even modern equipment. They may warn you of rotting boards, an impending scrap metal scavenger hunt or that their insurance doesn't cover those activities under their existing coverage.
If you do get the green light then you need to continue the inventory of junk possibilities combined with the patterns of targeted bucks. It doesn't do you any good to hide behind an abandoned corn planter if deer only pass by it when spooked by a pack of wild dogs.
Put your trail cameras into play overlooking funnels and pinch points near junk, and structures. When a pattern emerges you have a location to hide or even the foundation to put in a blind.
Ground Blind Foundation
In addition to using junk "as is," abandoned elements of the past also can use used as blending elements and anchors for modern ground blind incorporation.
That's right. You don't have to give up the scent containment of modern ground blind construction. You can utilize the scent containment of a blind and decrease detection using the backdrop of old junk as camouflage. And if the junk or structure has blending characteristics, you can even pop a blind that day and begin the hunt.
One season I was hunting near an abandoned farmhouse and deer routinely coursed through the yard to visit old apple trees nearby. I popped a blind up in the living room with the main shooting lane straight out the old front room that had long since lost its glass barrier to the outside.
I was too picky and didn't pick up my Mathews when several nice "shooter" bucks passed. Even with a tag-soup ending I adopted a junkyard mentality about hunting that continues today.
Another manmade element that doesn't fit the junk definition, but can be used for a disappearing act, is a hay yard. These fenced off areas hold winter livestock feed supplies in the form of round or square bales.
Deer pass by them daily in many whitetail zones. As winter envelops the landscape deer even stop for a nibble. You can hunker between bales, hide a ground blind behind bales or even deploy any number of so-called bale blinds that fit right into the mix. Real bales provide a great foundation for a blind or work as camouflage on their own.
Right now I have my sights set on an old hog barn. It's long been abandoned so the smell has almost vanished. Despite a whiff now and then of days gone by, the crumbling structure has got what it takes to hide me for an upcoming hunt whether I'm toting my Mathews or my CVA muzzleloader.
Embrace the junk scene this season. I am.