It’s one of the major questions come hunting season: Do I go for the ground blind or try the tree stand?
Americans up and down the land are asking the same question, so you needn’t worry.
Here, we’ve put together arguments from both sides in order to help you decide. Let’s take a peek.
TL;DR: Ground Blind vs Tree Stand
Before we start with the detailed guide, it might benefit you to have a look at this overview.
Widely appropriate for anyone, from novices to experts. Hunting in severe conditions.
Seasoned hunters who are highly determined and prefer solo hunting. Fair weather conditions.
What is a Ground Blind, and What is it Used For?
A ground blind is an enclosed structure erected at ground level that enables a hunter to survey an area without being seen. They come in two basic forms: a fixed structure and a mobile structure.
In some parts, the traditional fixed (or permanent) blinds are still widely used, although by far the most popular option is the modern mobile blind. The fixed type is often made from timber, while the mobile blind is similar to a camping tent.
The main function of a ground blind is to provide camouflage and cover for the hunter while allowing him/her to observe a given tract of land and the movements of prey animals. In most ground blinds, there is room enough for more than one person to hunt at the same time, with some larger versions allowing eight or more.
Because of its extra space, a hunter can comfortably monitor the prey for several hours at any time. With the added use of waterproofing and UV-resistant sprays, the ground blind is the ideal method for areas with more severe weather or for trips that span several long days.
What is a Tree Stand, and What is it Used For?
Tree stands are small platforms that allow a hunter to be safely and comfortably positioned in the foliage of a suitable tree, well above the eye line of prey animals. They are normally heavy-duty constructions, made of durable materials like steel, although there are versions that resemble tree-houses made of wood.
Either way, the main function of the tree stand is to raise the hunter above the quarry, typically to a height of between 18–20 feet from the ground.
Given that large prey animals, like elk or deer, generally have nothing to fear from above, their focus is directed around them at ground level. This is what makes the tree stand effective. It requires a lot more know-how than the ground blind option does since there’s always going to be an element of risk involved in being high up a tree.
There are many different harnesses, braces, utility straps, and other gear to ensure safety. Thorough knowledge of all of these is highly necessary if you’re going to be using this method. While most are for single-person use and are rated accordingly, there are two-person options available, as well.
Relevant Characteristics Between a Ground Blind and a Tree Stand
We’re about to show you the detailed similarities and differences between a ground blind and a tree stand. For now, here’s a brief summary.
From approx 50”x50”
From approx 14”x21”
Up to 500 lb
From 11 lb - High mobility
From 8.5 lb - High mobility
Up to 360°
1-4 persons most common
Similarities and Differences
Well, we’ve taken a look at some stats, so let’s go head-to-head on some of those numbers and see where we are. Obviously, each option is going to have areas of advantage, and these will be the factors you’re after.
Ground Blind and Tree Stand Differences
Let’s begin by looking at how these two differ and what aspects you should consider.
The way that tree stands operate means that they have a forward-facing aspect, which is just not the case with the ground blind. This aspect limits the tree stand hunter to a little over 180° and, depending on the type, sometimes less. With the ground blind, there are usually shot options all around the structure, allowing for a 360° vantage.
Here, the ground blind wins, hands down. There are some stands that can hold two persons, to a max rating of 500 lb, but most stands are a single person only. The ground blind, by contrast, is quite commonly rated for up to four. Some are even rated for up to eight at a time. If capacity matters to you, the ground blind is our recommendation.
There are certainly cheap models available, but some good advice would be to pay a little more for the quality. A decent ground blind will be far cheaper than a decent tree stand, at least initially. The difference is that the ground blind will perish over time and require various modifications, like waterproofing and UV protection. The stand, on the other hand, will be a heftier initial outlay but is so robustly made that it lasts and lasts.
Safety and Comfort
There are around 3,000 accidents each year involving hunters falling from tree stands, and even some fatalities. This is somewhat inevitable, given the facts. Being tethered to a tree 25 feet from the ground is inherently risky, and it’s one of those trade-offs we make. The ground blind, by contrast, is safe for even smaller children and carries no inherent risk of this kind.
Also, in terms of exposure to the elements, the ground blind is fully covered and protects against weather. You can even use a heater. With the tree stand, you really only have the branches above you for protection.
Ground Blind and Tree Stand Similarities
Here are some elements where ground blinds and tree stands are the same.
With the lightest of the tree stands being around 9 lb, it makes for a very mobile and easy carry. Similarly, the lightest blinds weigh in at around 11 lb. For either option, traversing rough terrain for long distances doesn’t trouble the hunter much.
In addition, many hunters prefer to let their blinds and stands remain in place for much of the season, which is a good option in both cases.
In terms of sighting prey, the stand and the blind operate in two different ways, and each has certain advantages. Depending on where it’s erected, a blind can offer a full 360° vista at ground level. The stand, however, is mainly limited to the facing direction of the hunter and excludes whatever is behind.
Having said that, the elevation above ground means that the tree stand often allows you to see things earlier and from a greater distance. Either way, situated correctly, both options give you a good overview of the terrain you’re hunting.
Ultimately, the idea behind each tactic is to ensure the prey doesn’t know you’re there. In both instances, this is broadly successful.
Secondly, both tactics enable you to take a decent shot at an unsuspecting animal, and again both have similar success.
The ground blind requires that prey animals become accustomed to its presence, especially one which is thoughtfully situated and properly brushed in.
Once this is done, the blind fades into the background, and the animals have no idea the hunter is there. With the stand, the prey animals are unaware of either the presence of the hunter or the stand itself. Either way, the goal is to allow the animals to behave naturally and to be positioned for the kill shot.
Advantages of a Ground Blind
Now that we’ve compared the two, we want to take a deeper look at the pros of ground blinds. You’ll gain a better understanding of why these benefits are so significant.
Hunting in Packs
A ground blind is a great option for those who like to hunt with others. Most hunters do prefer this option, given the choice. If you want to take along your child, that’s easy too. The windows typically open at a level that allows a small child to play on the floor without their movement alerting any prey outside.
So, you can even hunt as a family or friend group, provided activities are as quiet as possible.
Connected to this is the issue of comfort. There are many accessories one can place inside the blind, such as comfortable chairs and gas heaters, for example. If you’re going to be sitting for a whole day during the rut, this makes a big difference, especially with freezing rain pouring down.
Another major win for the ground blind is that you can put it just about anywhere you want.
With tree stands, you’re really looking for a tree with a straight trunk and foliage at around the 15-foot mark. Sometimes, these aren’t easy to find near a deer run. With the ground blind, you follow where the prey animals are and then drop it right where you need it.
The issue of blending into the surroundings can be overcome in two basic ways. Firstly, the blind can be situated early so that animals become acclimated to its presence.
Secondly, it can be thoroughly brushed in, with local branches that fit the environment and additional camouflage netting where needed.
The ground blind is an outright winner for the social hunter. Many folks like to hunt as a family or with groups of friends, and in that case, the blind is the only way to go. You can deck it out with all the modern amenities and conveniences you could desire.
Cold days, sweltering days, pouring rain, and howling wind, none of these are much trouble when you’re hunkered down in the shelter of a decent ground blind.
Advantages of a Tree Stand
Next, we’ll highlight some features where tree stands have some advantages. We’ll showcase the best points to help you decide which you like better.
The advantage of stands most hunters cite is around the issue of visibility. Given that common prey animals, such as deer or elk, evolved to be wary of ground-level predation, they simply aren’t aware of anything above their own eye-line. They have nothing to fear from the trees or sky, as mice and other critters do, and so they ignore these as sources of danger.
This is a major edge for the hunter perched 18 feet above. Some bowhunters point to the draw of the bow as the moment in which animals most often bolt, but when you’re up above, there’s little to worry about. Similarly, any scent which might alert them to the presence of danger is blown away well out of reach.
So, positioning is a major benefit.
Easy Installation and Access
Another great thing about the tree stand is that you can stake out your situation and install your stand for the season, meaning that you can access your place over and over with a single installation.
This carves a lot off your setup time, and since the stand is made of durable metals, it will be unaffected by anything the weather can throw at it too. Some hunters even leave the stand up during the off-season and simply check on the fixings and attachments when they return.
For the hunter who prefers to work alone and who has minimal need for the creature comforts on the hunt, then the tree stand comes into its own. No mess, no fuss. Just a solo hunter and the quarry.
With an initial outlay, you can get all the equipment needed into a single carry bag, and you won’t need to mend or replace anything for years, in all probability. Most of the gear is either steel or heavy-duty strapping, so nothing wears easily.
If getting the odd bit of weather, here and there, isn’t a problem for you, then the stand offers genuine advantages.
What About Elevated Blinds?
The elevated blind is basically a “best of both worlds” kind of option. That’s the idea, anyway. It’s a regular blind (of the fixed type mentioned above) that has been heightened, either into a tree or by means of posts. There are even mobile versions, which are mounted to a trailer, pulled by a pickup.
These mobile ones are mostly homemade and are likely to be quite expensive to construct, although the benefit is clear. In terms of effectiveness, they definitely capture some of the advantages of both the elevation of the stand and the comfort and sociality of the ground blind.
While it does offer those advantages, it does have some disadvantages too. If it’s of the tree or post type, it’s naturally also a pretty permanent type of structure, and so it can’t really follow the deer if they begin taking different trails.
You’d have to erect it all over again or erect another. In some regions, you’ll see these blinds scattered all around the hunting grounds for this very reason.
Also, they stand out quite clearly from any natural setting, and because of their height, they’ll tend to stand out against the horizon too, which bothers more skittish prey animals. They might not know you’re in there, but they know the structure isn’t a natural feature.
For rifle hunters, this trade-off doesn’t matter much, as the prey can be reached at a great range, anyway.
For bowhunters, it matters a bit more. You want the prey to wander within fifty yards, at the farthest, before you’re even in the game. In the end, the elevated blind is generally the better option in wide-open terrain use with a rifle.
Top Pick Between Ground Blind and Tree Stand
We’ve provided a complete overview and comparison of both types. It’s time to share our opinion on which is better for each level.
Which is Better For Beginners?
For the beginner, the ground blind is usually preferable. Many hunters even choose to introduce young children to the sport by bringing them to ground blinds. Since the tree stand is normally a solo option, it’s difficult to guide and advise a new hunter with this choice.
The ground blind is perfect because you’re able to watch and learn in the company of others, and from there, you can use whichever option suits you best once you know the ropes.
Which is Better For Deer Hunting?
If you’re a serious hunter looking for that trophy buck, it’s hard to beat the tree stand. Provided you can locate a good tree in the right location, you are the invisible man. For this reason, most serious hunters opt for the stand.
Like all human activities, though, deer hunting is not solely about the kill, and a great many hunters enjoy the advantages of the ground blind. They enjoy being out there all day, with a partner to share the experience, and there’s no doubt you can bag a trophy from a well-positioned ground blind too.
Which Is Better for Bow Hunting?
This is trickier to say since it tends to divide opinion among hunters. Some bowhunters claim that deer spook easily during the draw of the bow and can see this movement even through mesh windows. They claim that the only way around this is to be above the quarry. Others will say that the draw just has to be timed well to avoid the problem.
For the no-nonsense solo hunter looking for that magical buck, you just can’t beat the well-positioned tree stand. From the point of view of the quarry, you might as well be in another universe. They never see it coming. Tucked up amidst the foliage, there are few comforts besides the knowledge that your moment is drawing nearer.
But, when the temps drop, and you’ve got hours of watching during the rut ahead of you, the relative comfort of a properly brushed-in blind can make the season for you. Ultimately, that’s where it lies, and you’ll find most seasoned hunters do a little of both.
People Also Ask
This is an area that garners a lot of questions from novices and pros alike, and each innovation comes with a whole host more. For the sake of sharing the information, let’s look at some common queries around stands and blinds.
Do Ground Blinds Control Scents?
Blinds will certainly contain most mild scents, which otherwise might scare off skittish prey. These include human body odor and so forth. There is a limit to this effectiveness, though, and stronger scents will not be controlled effectively. These include cigarettes, strong food smells, and likely alcoholic beverages.
Is 12 Feet High Enough For a Tree Stand?
Well, it depends. Usually, hunters opt for a height of nearer to 20 feet to be way above the eye line. However, it does depend on the tree. If your preferred tree has low foliage, at around 8-10 feet, you may get away with a lower elevation and still be well hidden.
How Many People Can Be in a Tree Stand?
As a standard, tree stands are usually solo. There are options that include a second hunter with a max rating of 500 lb. Alternatively, you could build an elevated blind or platform, which would allow for more people while still allowing the advantages of the ordinary tree stand.
Can You Shoot Through The Mesh Window on a Ground Blind?
Yes. Many modern ground blinds are fitted with a “shoot-through” mesh affixed to each window. These are designed for this purpose. The reasoning behind them is that they allow for the shot while adding camouflage to the open window. This means you can remain invisible, even while shooting.