Tips for Crossbow Hunting From Ground Blinds

When toting a crossbow, there’s more to just going and sitting in a ground blind — a lot more!

Tips for Crossbow Hunting From Ground Blinds

The mature buck jumped the barbed-wire fence and slowly fed toward me. When the old boy was just 46 yards from where I sat, I leveled my crosshair for a heart shot and slowly squeezed the trigger. The bolt zipped through the chest of the big deer before it had a chance to react, sending it into a high-speed race for cover. The buck didn’t run 60 yards before falling, and the entire event was over in a matter of seconds.

Hunting out of a ground blind has many advantages. That is, as long as you play your cards right. For starters, you seldom have steep angles to deal with, and a broadside shot should allow for a complete pass-through. Elevated stands often mean steep angles and bolts that pass through only a single lung.

A Crossbow Isn’t a Rifle

When hunting with a crossbow, you need to take or create every advantage possible to be successful on a regular basis. Make no doubt about it, a crossbow is a form of archery gear, and you need to set up to generate a killing shot, just like any other bowhunter. You aren’t pushing lead at rapid speed and hitting with over 2,000 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. Focus and concentration to place a bolt in the vitals is a must. More speed out of the gate does not mean you can take risky shots or drive a broadhead and bolt through bone.

A good way to practice is to shoot 3-D deer targets. The angle of your bolt buried into a target will show you the approximate exit point. It doesn’t take long to learn a deer’s anatomy and pick a killing shot every time. Always picture where your bolt will exit on an animal to ensure its path is in the best location possible for a quick and humane kill.

Practice From a Blind

If you plan on hunting out of a ground blind, practice shooting out of the same one you’ll use in the field. Windows, portholes and screens are all potential shooting lanes, but will your bow limbs fit, and will your bolt clear the blind material? It may seem like a simple concept, but a deer at 40 yards standing slightly uphill can easily force a shooter to tilt a crossbow to find the animal in the scope, resulting in your bolt finding the blind instead of an opening.

Have you shot from a chair? The last thing you want to happen is to get into a blind and find out the chair you brought is too low to allow you to see or shoot out of a window. Some chairs force you to sit low in a saggy cloth seat, making it difficult to use a proper shooting rest. Field testing your equipment will let you find the combination of equipment that works when a big buck shows up.

Checking window clearance to ensure limbs and bolts perform flawlessly is a must-do for the blind-going crossbow hunter.
Checking window clearance to ensure limbs and bolts perform flawlessly is a must-do for the blind-going crossbow hunter.

Adjustable Is Best

Alps makes an adjustable blind chair that allows you to sit level, even on uneven ground. The chair swivels and is silent when set up properly. The mesh back and seat have great support and make the chair stand out to the crossbow hunter. The Alps OutdoorZ Stealth Hunter Blind Chair will help keep you comfortable and keep you out in the field.

Shooting Lanes

Hunting game at eye level does have its advantages, but you need to plan for the shot. It isn’t uncommon to have tall grass and vegetation growing around your blind that can not only obscure your view, but also create chaos for a bolt. Grass will grab your bolt in flight and pull it down quickly, causing you to miss the animal or hit it low. Don’t think you can launch a bolt through a stand of grass and have it find the mark.

Here’s a simple test: Cut a stick and mark it with flagging tape; put one wrap at 24 inches, another at 36 inches. This zone approximates the chest cavity height of an average whitetail. Have a hunting partner walk around the blind with the stick, and you’ll quickly see where a deer is obscured or where decent shot opportunities exist. If you need to cut or mow lanes, make sure you do it weeks ahead of the time you plan to hunt to allow the animals to get used to it.

Broadheads and Blinds

Shooting screens are a great way to stay concealed, allowing you to shoot through them to your quarry. Depending on the broadhead you use, shooting screens can be a blessing or a curse. Most fixed-blades will perform extremely well, but some mechanicals can open when contacting the screen, causing them to open and alter the way your bolt will fly. Always shoot your hunting broadheads through the screen before you head into the field to ensure they aren’t going to cause you heartache. Screens can also be removed, but doing so will mean brushing the blind in with even more detail.

Take a Rest

Use a supporter rest whenever possible. A set of shooting sticks is easy to move and adjust for shooting height. A SteddyEddy monopod can provide more flexibility in terms of quick movement and options for shooting out different windows. The SteddyEddy extends and has a rubber ball on the bottom end for grip and stabilization. Don’t overlook placing the stabilizer end on your waist, which would allow you to pivot your shoulders and move your arms to shoot out multiple windows without having to move sticks. Practice shooting off the rest you intend to use and make sure you check the range of motion to determine your shooting radius with minimized movement.

The SteddyEddy monopod can be used on the ground for added shooting stability, but it also works well when placed on your waist.
The SteddyEddy monopod can be used on the ground for added shooting stability, but it also works well when placed on your waist.

In Control

Don’t let luck dictate your success when hunting out of a blind. Confirm how your equipment works in the situation you intend to face when hunting. Sitting on a bench and shooting at a target is rarely how we encounter game in the field, so why do we simply feel it’s ok to practice that way?

A crossbow is a fun way to spend more time in the field hunting the game you like, but always remember the limitations of any archery gear. Patience, skill and knowledge of your quarry and equipment will always outweigh luck. Reduce your reliance on luck and be prepared by knowing the ins and outs of ground blinds so your crossbow can bring a successful end to your hunt.



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