A hunting blind can provide comfort and improve your chances of bagging a turkey. Some, however, still prefer the thrill of being in the wide open.
Hunkered in a small, tent-like hunting blind, I watched with frustration as a big tom turkey strutted and gobbled all morning in a distant field, then strode past, well out of shotgun range, chasing two hens.
He ignored my plaintive calls and two decoys. After five days of turkey hunting in three states, it looked as if the results in Minnesota would be the same: No bird.
Nibbling on a breakfast bar, I waited. Forty minutes later, seeing nothing, I turned and peeked out the screened opening behind me, just in case that gobbler had changed his mind.
And there he was, his copper feathers glistening in the sunshine, silently and slowly ambling my way.
My heart pounded as I collapsed my chair, cleared away my gear and quietly pivoted 180 degrees. The gaudy bird strode closer, and at 27 yards fell to one well-placed shot.
Soon, wild turkey would be roasting in my oven.
My success last May underscored the benefit of using a blind to hunt wild turkeys: Without it, I almost certainly wouldn’t have bagged that bird. It concealed my movement, allowing me to turn around and get a shot. I couldn’t have done that nestled against a tree.
But there are drawbacks to hunting gobblers from a blind, too.
Here are some pros and cons:
Pros Conceals movement
A good blind conceals movement, and outwaiting a wary bird often is the difference between success and failure. I eat and drink — and yes, even pee — in my pop-up blind, without spooking keen-sighted gobblers. I can stand up and stretch, too. That means I’m likely to stay in my blind longer, giving me a better chance of bagging a turkey.
A blind is an especially good idea if you’re hunting with a youngster or beginner.
“Kids don’t tend to sit still very long,’’ said Keith Carlson, 52, of Anoka, a longtime turkey clinic instructor and president of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Anoka County chapter. “A blind really helps. If you’re introducing any person to the sport, it’s the only way to go.’’
And if you’re hunting with a partner, a two-person blind can be a fun way to spend a day in the woods, whispering quietly and watching spring unfold. (Bowhunters, of course, often rely on a blind to hide their movement.)
Blinds also are great for hunting in the rain or snow. I sat comfortably in mine last April during a rare sleet storm in Kansas. Sitting in the open that day would have been ugly. And I’ve sat dry inside my blind during a hard rain in Wisconsin. I use slate and box calls that won’t work if they get wet. A blind allows hunters to stay in the woods longer, improving their odds of bagging a bird.