Though known primarily for pheasant hunting, South Dakota consistently produces monster whitetail bucks year after year. Anyone who frequently pheasant hunts in South Dakota expects heart-racing encounters with trophy whitetails on a regular basis. In the Glacial Lakes Region of South Dakota these big buck encounters are likely to occur in dense cattails, native grass, or young cedar-rich tree belts. One of the biggest challenges facing a bow hunter is to find an effective way to get close enough to these elusive bucks. Hunters who only use treestands in mature shelter-belts from the 1930’s or volunteer trees associated with wetlands, will limit their access to areas where stand hunting is not possible, often the areas where the biggest bucks reside. Double P Ranch has struggled for years to develop an means to effectively hunt areas not-suitable for tree-stands.
Ground Blinds: The Early Years
For years Double P Ranch used fabric ground blinds. It was a disaster. Fabric ground blinds are simple no match for the South Dakota elements. High winds wreaked havoc on blinds. It was common to have brand new blinds destroyed before ever being used. When the late season snow came even more damage was done. The lower up front cost of the blinds did not offset the time and effort to spent setting up and maintaining the blinds in the field. The average lifespan of the blind was a single season. When the blinds held up the lack of visibility made it challenging for a hunter to get a shot off even when deer were in range.
For years we looked for an affordable durable alternative to the fabric blinds. We wanted a good quality hard-sided blind that could withstand the South Dakota elements. We wanted to be able to easily relocate the blind when necessary. It needed to be comfortable no matter what the conditions: wind, snow, rain, hot or cold. The blind had to be spacious enough for two and tall enough to stand up in. We also wanted to be able to elevate the stand to improve the field of view. Finally, the blinds had to be affordable since there are dozens of locations where tree stands hunting is not feasible.
A couple of years ago we discovered Maverick Blinds. Maverick makes an affordable ($600) and durable two-piece blind that requires minimum maintenance once installed. These blinds are spacious and give 75” of head room. We added our own enhancements to the blinds. To improve the field of view we mounted the blinds to cable spools giving them a rock solid footing, yet allowing us to re-position it with a tractor when desired. Access was easily achieved using ladder segments for discarded tree stands. Adding carpet, a small space heater, and comfortable water resistant office chairs were the finishing touches. We now have a blind where we are confident our visiting bow hunters will comfortably enjoy hunting the trophy South Dakota whitetail no matter what the conditions. These blinds are now out producing even our most productive tree stands on the ranch. The time required for initial setup has been worth effort. We fully intend to continue adding Maverick blinds to the ranch each season. We also look forward to the improvements Maverick continues to make to the blinds.