It’s down to the wire for Dan as he heads out for the last sit on his early season North Dakota bowhunting trip to Chris Jorde’s Heart J Outfitters. Will he score on a big buck while hunting from a ground blind?
by Daniel E. Schmidt
The fun thing about early season bowhunting is that you get a head start on everyone else. This is especially true when hunting a place like North Dakota, with its annual pre-Labor Day bowhunting opener. Bowhunting these big bucks oftentimes means hunting from ground blinds, and that’s what we did for half of the sits on this trip. This last day of the hunt also called for an audible — placing a ground blind the day before in hopes of waylaying a buck that had suddenly shifted its feeding pattern from alfalfa to soybeans.
I’m a traditional bowhunter when it comes to methods. I almost always hunt from a tree stand, and I almost always sit patiently waiting for deer to show up. I’m not much of an improviser in that regard. My philosophy is simple: go with the known and hope the deer stick to the script. In the case of hunting out of state, I always subscribe to the theory of trusting your guide’s instincts. Here in North Dakota, Chris Jorde noticed how the deer on his 2,500 acres had abruptly shifted their feeding patterns in the days leading up to us arriving in camp.
The hunting for the first four days was beyond slow. DDH TV cameraman Les Moore and I had only seen a small handful of does and fawns up until this point, and only a few of those had been close to our blinds/stands. On this last day, Jorde told us to try a new blind that he had brushed into a cornfield that bordered some still-green soybean tops. It would be our best bet for putting my tag on a buck during this last day of the trip.
Ground blind hunting for big bucks is almost a necessary evil when doing any kind of extensive early season bowhunting. I much rather prefer sitting in a tree stand, because an elevated perch allows you to see so much more. Sitting in a ground blind with one window partially open (need to do this to prevent deer from seeing you) is a common tactic. One must, obviously, is having the best chair for hunting out of a ground blind that you can find. If you skimp and go with a folding chair or 5-gallon bucket, you will soon regret it.
But, be warned: These types of hunts will make a much lesser man go insane. I’m almost one of those lesser men when it comes to this kind of hunting. It can be beyond tedious, and the minutes tick by awfully slow.
On this last day, the blind was situated almost perfectly. The wind was in our face, and the temperature was dropping throughout the day. Daytime highs had been in the mid-70s. The forecast called for a high of just 50 degrees the next day. Recipe for success? Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Although we had a mature doe approach the blind with plenty of daylight left, she didn’t come within bow range (I would have gladly tagged her to help Jorde with his management efforts). The bucks gave us the slip.
But, hey, that’s why they call it “hunting” after all, isn’t it? We know there are plenty of big boys roaming these fields and draws. We can only hope to get back here someday soon (maybe the late season?) and finish what we started!
— This post concludes this series on Dan Schmidt’s North Dakota blog series.
For more on late-season bowhunting opportunities in North Dakota, check out Chris Jorde’s impressive operation.
Product of the day: Primos Ground Blind Chair
This portable chair is designed specifically for use in hunting blinds. It features a three-leg design and contoured seat that helps position a hunter for shooting out of ground blinds. More info here.