HAMBURG – With a new crossbow hunter in the family it was time to shop for one of the new, updated hunting blinds.
For those who have not purchased a portable hunting blind for several years, be ready to be overwhelmed.
That, however, is a good thing as the price of blinds that meet Pennsylvania Game Commission regulations are as inexpensive as $50. However, blinds can also be priced in the three-figure range.
Before purchasing a blind for hunting in Pennsylvania understand the PGC regulations to prevent an unwelcome encounter with a game warden. For deer hunting, blinds made of man-made material need not provide cover for its inhabitants on all four sides and the top, but are required for turkey hunting.
Comfort and protections from the weather, plus getting the most bang for the buck, make purchasing an enclosed blind the best choice – especially if mentoring an inexperienced hunter, regardless of age. These blinds have the advantage of concealing movement when bringing a sporting arm into shooting position. They also hide fluorescent orange that is visible 360 degrees and are required for firearm seasons; they can also be easily added.
In recent years regulations regarding the placement and tagging of blinds and stands on State Game Lands and other land enrolled in PGC programs went into effect. In most Wildlife Management Units statewide – including WMU 4C and 4E – blinds and stands may be placed on this land today – two weeks before the Saturday, Sept. 29, opening of the statewide archery season. They would remain in place until two weeks after the close of the last big game season – which is Saturday, Jan. 26, following the close of the flintlock and late archery deer seasons.
In the Southeast Region, stands and blinds may have legally been put in place beginning Saturday, Sept. 1 — two weeks before the beginning of the antlerless archery season in WMU 5C — and may remain in place until Saturday, Feb. 9 — two weeks following the close of the extended deer seasons.
Hunters should understand, however, that just because they have erected a stand or blind, they should not consider the area reserved for them.
Another recent regulation requires all tree stands and portable ground blinds left on lands under PGC control be marked to identify their owners. This regulation applies to SGLs as well as private lands enrolled in the Hunter Access program.
All tree stands or blinds left overnight or longer on these lands are required to be marked with a durable tag bearing information that identifies its owners, name, home address, CID number appearing on the owner’s hunting license, or a number issued by the PGC to the stand or blind owner. Any of the three methods of identifying the owner is acceptable.
Unique numbers identifying the stand or blind owner can be obtained at The Outdoor Shop on the PGC website at www.pgc.state.pa.us .
Once at The Outdoor Shop, click on “Permits”; select “Tree Stand Identification Number” and fill out the electronic form.
There is no cost to obtain a number.
Hunters can tag stands or blinds in any manner that meets the requirements that tags be durable, legible and conspicuously marked. A hunter may engrave their CID number onto a metal tag and wire it to the stand or frame of the blind, or do the same with a painted plastic tag.
During the recent Fall Hunting Classic held at Cabela’s Hamburg the search for a blind that had the space for two hunters, the height to bring a compound bow to full draw and the width to maneuver a crossbow the styles meeting those requirements wee seemingly endless.
There are nearly as many of what can be classified as “specialty” blinds, one designed for the spring gobbler or rifle deer hunter will not provide the needed space for bowhunters.
What came home was a model that was perfectly suited for bowhunting, spacious enough to conceal a Labrador retriever for goose hunting and a portable heater when temperatures drop into the teens during flintlock season.
A word of caution when using fabric blinds is to preserve their life and to remember they are not designed to be put in place and remain in place for the next five months.
Heavy snow, sun and wind are all enemies of preserving the crisp camo patterns of fabric blinds, so taking them down is worth the effort if they will not be used for several weeks.
At the very least they should be collapsed, placed in their carry sack and hung from a tree, rather than left on the ground.
And, no matter how good a product is or how well designed, what can go wrong will go wrong. For that reason, practice shooting from the blind – which requires erecting the blind – before placing it in the woods.
There is no question that hunting from a blind can increase one’s chance of success. And, with a bit of forethought and preparation, there is no need to count on “blind” luck.
(Dietz is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association)