The Daily, The Field, The Woods

Hay-bale blinds, where legal, are the warmest winter blinds

Two types of hay bale blinds. Sit back away from shooting area

The deadliest, most unconventional and warmest blind in the deer hunting woods has escaped many hunters. At first guess, many December hunters feel a heated on-the-ground or elevated stand is best.

Not me. For my money, a hay bale blind beats whatever else might come in second. It has many advantages, and only one disadvantage. Hunters afflicted with hay fever shouldn’t hunt from a hay bale blind.

However, in Michigan where baiting rules exist, a hay bale blind could be considered illegal unless it is in a hay field with other hay bales, Even then, people who think they’d like to hunt from one should personally contact the conservation officer in their hunting area for advice.

Assume responsibility to learn if such blinds are legal

A group of retired conservation officers I am friends with say they feel it would be up to the individual officer to determine its legality.

Personally, I hunted from them many years ago before Michigan adopted laws and rules on baiting. However, that was then and this is now. I loved a hay bale blind years ago, and would jump at the chance to hunt from one again providing it was deemed legal. It may be legal in other states, and it’s up to each hunter to determine whether the method is legal or not.

The solid points in favor of them are many and all are valid. Here are some good reasons to use such a blind in late November and December.

  • Hay bale blinds can be constructed from big round bales or the smaller and more manageable rectangular bales.
  • A round bale blind is made by putting two round bales together at an angle to form a capital “V”. Put a sheet of one-inch marine plywood over the top, and stack six or eight rectangular bales on top to provide a warm roof over your head.
  • A rectangular blind requires quite a few rectangular bales. Pile as many bales up on the left and right sides, and behind you, and put a chair inside to sit on. Stack the bales at least two high in the front, and leave just enough room to shoot. Cover the top with plywood and more bales, and you are set. The disadvantage of this blind is if one or two bales get bumped, the blind could fall like a house of cards.
  • Of the two, my favorite is made from round bales. Five minutes with a tractor to move the two round bales together, laying a sheet of plywood on top and several rectangular bales on top of that and in front to form a shooting window will complete the blind.

It’s possible to hunt from behind or between hay bales

  • Any hay blind placed before October in a key location will pay off when December rolls around. The deer get used to it, and by the time the winter archery season rolls around, it will entice deer to your area.
  • Key spots for a hay-bale set is near the edge of a cornfield, in an open field where two or more trails converge, or in a hay field that has abundant deer traffic.
  • This blind is warm. Unless the shooting window faces directly into the wind, this is the warmest blind there is. Wet hay builds a certain amount of heat, and hunters can stay warm in the most bitter weather.
  • Human odor isn’t a problem with hay blinds. The heavier odor of hay serves to cover any human scent inside the blind.
  • It would be difficult to consider a hay-bale blind as a bait site although deer could occasionally eat some of it while a hunter is inside.
  • Of major importance to me, and to others who use such blinds, is they offer straight-out, horizontal shots at whitetails. There is none of the problems of shooting downward while sitting or standing in a cold tree stand or elevated coop, and deer often walk within six feet of a hay-bale blind. The shots can be impossibly easy to make unless the hunter suffers from buck fever.

Many things favor such blinds if regulations are not against them

  • The hay absorbs almost any noise. I’ve coughed, sneezed, and done other noisy things in a hay-bale blind in the past without having nearby deer hear me. Of course, any movement visible through the narrow shooting window can be spotted.
  • Is it too late to build a hay-bale blind? It depends on deer numbers in your area, the available food supply, whether you bait or don’t bait, and how quickly the blind can be constructed. Deer often take three or four days, and sometimes as much as a week, to become accustomed to the blind.

If I were a hunter with a new hay blind, I would not sit in it for a week. The one exception to that would be if a major winter storm was due to hit that evening. Every deer in the area will be on the prowl before dark, and I’d suggest being in the new stand no later than 2 p.m.

If snow falls before the deer move, so much the better. It will help cover any human scent, and it can produce the occasional big buck.

Hay-bale blinds are not difficult to make, and they provide everything a December bow hunter could ask for: no scent, being as warm as toast, and being in a blind while the deer nibble around the edges of it. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Just remember: It is your sole responsibility to determine whether such blinds are legal where you hunt. If you don’t check first, it’s your bad because you’ve been warned.


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