On The Ridge: Tower blind pros and cons

Published: 6/23/2021 4:42:24 PM

When I was a young man chasing ducks and geese all over the states of Massachusetts and Vermont, hunting from a blind meant gathering whatever branches, brush, sticks, and boughs I could find, then hunkering down behind them while, many times, trying my best to stay warm and dry. That was all while trying to keep a steady vigil for flights of migratory birds moving through.

There were some beautiful fall days to enjoy back then, for sure, but it was mostly constant lessons of enduring the weather, all the way from September to the last days of December. If you’re a serious hunter, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It could be a makeshift blind of sticks and brush, a tree stand open to the elements, or a fabric-type pop-up blind with my back against a tree, but no matter what, rain, snow, ice, wind and sometimes critters pretty much found a way in.

Since that time however, hunting blinds have come a long way, especially enhancing concealment and increasing space and comfort, which any permanent type box blind — either on the ground or elevated on a tower — will do. They also offer a great way to share a hunt with others or conceal fidgety kids who are getting their first experiences in the deer woods. And YES, this year for the first time ever, I will be deer hunting in a “tower blind” when the worst weather of the season finds me. I am simply done with long hours on a stand enduring ice storms, snowstorms, rain squalls and worse. These are days I want to be in the woods. For the rest of my hunting career, if possible, when those days come I’ll be sitting dry, staying warm, and hunting deer.

I didn’t come to this conclusion easily, however. In nearly 50 years of hunting, I’ve done it in every type of open, on the ground, or elevated blind imaginable. Everything from homemade ground blinds to putting a large piece of pressure treated wood between a fork in a tree, elevating ladder stands with a seat, climbers, to carpenter built elevated open deer blinds, I believe I did it all. But an enclosed tower blind is something I have never ventured into, though this new deal is something I’m looking forward to with great anticipation.

I first noticed tower-type hunting blinds in my travels out to Chicago to visit my son, Ben, his wife Lauren, and their new little skipper Lillian. These old shanty box blinds are sprinkled all along the I-80/90 corridor heading through the Midwest. At first, the placement of these blinds seemed unusual to me, but after a few trips through Ohio and Indiana, I realized that whitetail deer were simply everywhere. And today, I’m convinced that these hunters have a good idea of where to go and what to do once they get there, so those blinds are really a testament to Midwestern hunters.

Over the years, enclosed tower blinds have received the attention of hunters everywhere, mainly because they offer the same advantages for all forms of hunting, including crossbows. But for bowhunters, there are some specific benefits that clearly standout. It provides a bowhunter with real concealment that helps when drawing back your bow. You can see farther and clearer when you are elevated than you can on the ground, and in many cases, you have a 360-degree view which is never a bad thing. Your scent is not nearly as detectable from above as when you are at the same level as a whitetail deer, black bear, coyote, etc, and over time almost any elevated deer blind will eventually blend into the landscape, which is a good thing. Finally, elevated tower blinds offer more room and comfort than when you are seated for long periods of time on the ground or in a tree. And despite what we all grew up hearing about — how you have to “suffer” — the truth is, you really don’t have to suffer anymore.

But there are also disadvantages to any type of elevated blinds, including tower blinds. Elevated stands always pose an increased risk of taking a fall, so safety is always a key element as it is in all things. Tower blinds can also be difficult to transport or move once they are set up. Extreme winds can knock one over unless it is properly anchored, and fogged up windows can often be a problem. Also, because of the downward angle for shooting, estimating distances can sometimes be a problem, which is something you need to practice if you decide to go this way. Finally, you are kind of stuck up there, and unable to move toward game when the situation calls for it. But I’ve convinced myself that the benefits outweigh the negatives, and that an elevated tower blind for deer can open some great hunting opportunities when placed in the right area.

Joe Judd is a lifelong hunter and sportsman. He is an outdoor writer, seminar speaker, and a 2019 inductee into the N.E. Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame. Joe is also on the Quaker Boy Game Calls and Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Pro-Staff.


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