Planning for hunting season can take a while; not only do you have to get your hunting gear ready ahead of time, organize your gear, building a gear list, but you also need to think about stand or ground blind placement.
Sometimes you have no choice where to place your ground blind; most states have restrictions in place where you cannot leave blinds in place, and they need to be removed at the end of each day. Those of you lucky enough to be hunting on private property can take other liberties of setting up the ground blind well in advance and leaving it up permanently (if placing a fixed blind) or at least for the season if using a portable ground blind.
How long does it take for deer to get used to a blind? At a minimum, I would set up the ground blind a month before your first hunt if it is legal to do so in that location. If on public lands or lands with restrictions, explicitly follow any laws and regulations.
Why Do Deer Notice New Blinds?
In short, many deer do not notice new blinds; they are too focused on food, mating, or simply do not have situational awareness. Generally speaking, older deer such as mature bucks and does will have better situational awareness and potentially recognize a new blind location. This doesn’t mean they will be scared of it, but that they may not trust the location for a while until they get used to it.
Giving plenty of time to allow these mature bucks and does time to get used to your ground blind is a variable you should account for when you can place the blinds ahead of time.
Deer are very familiar with the areas they frequent; usually, we set up our blinds or stands where we see signs of deer activity (trails, feeding, and bedding areas). The deer are frequenting the area and can recognize something new.
Sense of Smell
Deer have an incredible sense of smell. Outside of simply seeing something that is out of place, deer may be able to detect a human scent or other scents that are on the blind until it has had a period to dissipate and take on the smells of the forest (another great reason to set up the blind earlier when possible).
This may sound made up, but juvenile deer will often learn from more mature deer around them. Often a more mature deer has “life experience” that a less mature juvenile deer does not. The mature deer will often see a hunting blind, and younger deer will learn from its elders.
Reactions Of Other Animals
When something out of the ordinary is introduced into the forest, it changes the routines of many animals (birds, squirrels, etc); these changes, while subtle to humans, these changes can have a downstream impact on other animals that are more aware of their surroundings in the forest including deer.
Elevated Blinds vs Box Blinds Do Deer Notice One More Than The Other?
No, elevated blinds and box blinds are noticeable to deer when they are first put into place; over time, deer will get used to them and not view them as a threat. This is why it is vital to have things in place as early as possible.
If You Don’t Have A Lot Of Time To Setup Your Blind
If using a portable blind, set it up outside, giving it time to pick up natural smells from the outdoors, which will help it blend in quicker when set up at your hunting location.
First, trying to get the blind in place as soon as possible; will give the deer much time to get used to it.
Some other things you can do is put the blind in a place that is better hidden and natural-looking. Use any terrain features to your advantage, helping hide the blind with brush, land features such as big rocks or in clumps of trees. Just don’t forget not to block decent sight lines so you still have ample shooting windows.
Be A Responsible Hunter
Once hunting season is over, make sure they clean up the area around your blind; even if on private property where you can leave your blind up be sure to do a quick scout to ensure the area is cleaned up and anything that may have been left around is cleaned up, and the blind is secure.
Likewise, if on public lands, clean up the area and be sure to leave it better than before.
Nothing is worse than seeing people leave wrappers around, old portable blinds that are left and collapsed by the next season, and so on.
Wrapping things up following the above best practices and operating within the rules of the land you are on; you will have land to use for the future and years of many successful hunts. I’ve hunted from permanent blinds that have been standing for ten plus years and portable blinds that I put up and taken down each day (as required by the landowner) and have had successful hunts in both cases.