Blind or Bare? When to Use Pop-Ups

Pop-up blinds have become popular turkey hunting tools. The reason is simple: They work. However, they might not be your best choice for every situation. Let’s examine when to embrace blinds or leave them behind.

Hunting with a youngster: Blind! This is a no-brainer. Children and teenagers have loads of energy and little focus. They fidget. They move. Hunting with them in a blind lets you stay hidden. Youngsters can even stand, stretch or take a nap without blowing up the hunt. Plus, when it’s time to shoot a gobbler, they can use a rest or shooting stick.

Big timber: Bare! If birds are fairly vocal, large tracts of state wildlife or national forest land provide the perfect forum to walk and call. Leave the blind in your truck, and hit the road to locate a hot gobbler. Slip along a ridge, calling every 100 yards or so. Sneak into a creek bottom, and work along the edge, trying to strike an active bird.

Rain: Blind! Staying dry and warm will keep you in the game for hours. Modern raingear is great, but it has limitations. A pop-up lets you stay focused while keeping your gun and wood calls in good shape. Plus, turkeys often frequent open areas during rain, and a blind lets you hunt those cover-challenged spots.

Tight roost hunt: Bare! If you roost a bird at dusk and slip under him the next morning, a blind probably won’t work. You’ll make loads of noise setting it up in the dark. Honestly, you won’t need a pop-up. Provided you sneak in under darkness and remain still, the turkey will probably fly down fairly close, and you can enjoy a classic roost hunt. Alternative: Blind! Find a roost, set up a blind at midday and return a day later.

Long setup: Blind! Ever figure your best option was to cold-call at a likely spot or near hot sign? A blind will let you do so in relative comfort, which will keep you patient and alert. Most people start to squirm after an hour against a tree. If you want to sit longer than that, use a pop-up. You can stretch, drink water, nod off or change calls without worrying about being busted.

Big country: Bare! Turkeys in wide-open spaces — Merriam’s, Rio Grandes, even Easterns in some areas — often hit the ground running. You need to determine where they’re headed and get in front of them, so a blind is out of the question. Alternative: Blind! Use one for your fly-down hunt, but if that blows up, get out, locate gobbling turkeys, and get moving. You can pick up the pop-up later.

Field: Blind! You might sit on a field edge and score, but turkeys want to be out in fields. A blind lets you be there with them. Usually, birds pay no attention to a blob that seemingly appeared overnight. Find a hot field, wait till turkeys leave, pop a blind up at a likely spot and return the next day. Those pesky field birds might end up in your lap.

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