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Tricking Toms

The basics of building a ground blind from natural materials.

By Scott Sommerlatte

Veteran turkey hunters agree that the most important part of the game is how and where you hide. Turkeys have incredible eyesight, great hearing, and an intelligence level that borders on the supernatural. Patience and attention to detail are key components of successful turkey hunting. After locating a tom, study its movements and find a hiding spot along a path that leads to or from the bird’s roost. If several birds are roosting in the same area, it is wise to set up a considerable distance away so that you do not disturb the other birds.

Once you find a place to hide, it is time to choose the best way to stay out of sight. While some hunters choose to deck themselves out in camo and face paint, I prefer a ground blind. To me, total concealment is the name of the game. The blind must look natural and be dense enough so that the birds cannot see through it. This can be accomplished by using the natural vegetation found in the area.

One of the best methods is to cut fresh cedar branches or other densely leaved vegetation and build a teepee-like structure. (Of course, make certain beforehand that cutting fresh vegetation is allowed on the property.) The blind should be built up against a tree, which will serve as a back rest and prevent birds from seeing into the blind. If a suitable tree is not available, a small seat with a backrest that can sit flat on the ground will also work.

First, cut branches (each about 4 feet long) that have plenty of leaves or needles, then stand the branches with the cut end up, leaning them inward so that they support each other. When the blind is complete, the cut ends of the branches at the top of the blind should be lashed together. For this I like to carry some long tie-wraps. Also, don’t forget to leave a small opening to shoot from (the smaller the better) and another to get in and out of the blind, and make sure you have sufficient vegetation to cover the opening once inside.

Using fresh vegetation has a few advantages. It offers more cover with less work and because the material is still green, it will be on the quiet side. However, in the event that suitable fresh vegetation is not available to make a blind, you can also use old logs and downed tree limbs. A blind of this type will require much more work because of the lack of leaves to fill in the gaps. When building a blind out of logs and limbs that have no leaves, line the inside of the blind with camouflaged netting or material. The netting will help conceal you, and it will also prevent you from rubbing up against and breaking the dry, brittle twigs and sticks, which would make noise and spook the turkeys.

As you can see, building a ground blind is not difficult. Just remember: make it look as natural as possible and you should have no problems calling a big ’ol tom into range.

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