By Deborah Holt Williams
Hunting together as a family, whether for deer or bison or mastodon, used to be all about the meat. But today, hunting is also about parents and children spending time with each other in the great outdoors.
A perfect family project parents and kids can work on together before hunting season begins is to build a deer blind. No power tools are required, although they make it easier, and using recycled materials can keep the cost down.
The first step is to make sure you have permission to build the blind on the spot you think would be ideal. If it’s your family’s property—no problem. But if not, find out who owns the land and be sure to get a written OK.
Pick a spot near a deer trail that’s located fairly high with a great view of the woods below, but not so high your blind will stand out like a cherry on top of a sundae. Pay attention to where your blind’s windows will be in relation to the sun. You don’t want to sit in there for hours with the sun in your eyes.
Next, draw a plan for the blind and figure out about how much plywood you’ll need, and what else you’ll need for building supplies. Keep in mind that using screws rather than nails will make it easier to take down when it becomes too weathered to use, and that caulking will help to keep out mice.
There are several websites that offer precise instructions and list everything for the job. Just Google the words deer blind plans.
Make a list with two columns. First, what supplies you already have, and second, what supplies you’ll need to purchase. Make sure you didn’t leave anything out. Then, go shopping—or scavenging.
Be sure you double-check your supplies before you hike in to your hunting area and start building. You don’t want to have to hike out again because you left your hammer at home or in your vehicle.
You can also choose to build the blind at home and haul it to your site. Some hunters set the blind on cinder blocks so there is some space between the ground and the floor to keep the floor from getting wet and rotting.
Next, to paint or not to paint?
If you are building your blind months ahead of deer season, you may want to use a flat black paint on the inside, to keep it dark, and camouflage the outside with the greens and browns of the woods. But you may want to skip painting if you’re going to use it soon, because the deer will pick up the smell of paint and keep their distance.
The two main functions of a deep blind are to keep the deer from seeing your movement, and to keep you more comfortable by sheltering you from the elements.
For these reasons, you’ll need to keep your windows small and your roof slightly angled to protect you from rain and snow. See-through camouflage netting can make a good window cover. Some people like to put carpet on the floor, and add cup holders or shelves.
You can build a bench, but camp chairs may be more comfortable. Don’t forget to pack toilet paper and hand sanitizer for when nature calls. And be sure to bring a trash bag. Don’t leave food or items that invite skunks or raccoons.
The finishing touch is to disguise the outside of the blind with branches, grasses, tree bark and moss, or any natural cover that helps the camouflage your hiding place.
Be sure and bring a camera with its battery fully charged and prepare to be as patient and quiet as the woods around you.
Being totally still for hours is a unique experience for most kids in today’s buzzing, beeping world. But when you see that first deer step out silently, so close you can see its breath, there’s nowhere else you’d rather be than inside your homemade blind.