Cheap or Free Alternatives to Hunting Blinds and Stands

Hunting blinds are called that for a reason; they are meant to hide you from the game that you are hunting. Of course, you will be wearing camouflage clothing, and that helps, but you wouldn’t want to just walk out into the woods and stand there until they show up. Doing so will prevent you from having a target at all because they will see your slight movements a mile away. It is possible, but not likely. This is why the majority of hunters will use a blind or stand placed in a tree.

There are a million and one options available to the modern hunter that come with all the bells and whistles. Yes, they are great, and who wouldn’t want to buy them? Realistically, not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on the Cadillac of hunting blinds. Your pocket book not being up to par doesn’t mean that you can’t still hunt. There are still options and they can sometimes even be free.

Most animals are oblivious to the human design tactics. This can be a great opportunity to throw something together that serves the purpose and is comfortable for you too. It doesn’t have to be pretty, in fact, it should be. It should look natural. When making a blind there really isn’t much thought that needs to go into it. Simply walk into the woods and start gathering as many free materials as you can. All you are going for is enough to hide under that will give you space to stretch your legs, and maybe house a friend or two.

Lean-to structures are just that, they lean against something. These are ridiculously easy to assemble especially when you aren’t looking for something pretty, or structurally sound. Lean a few logs against the trunk of a tree, and cover with leaves. Make sure that you cover most everything but leave a space for you to shoot from. Obviously, a larger hole will be needed if bow hunting than if shooting with a rifle. Make sure to know what this blind will be used for as you are building it. It may make the structure crumble later if you have to alter it.

Of course, you could get fancy, and cover the top with a tarp then leaves to keep the rain out. It isn’t necessary, but you may feel that it is, when a sudden rain starts falling on your face, as you are trying to shoot. Throw away carpet is a good idea to keep the ground dry, but make sure that you cover it in scent blocker before pulling it out into the woods. It may even be a good idea to do this in the off-season.

By using free materials found in the woods, it is possible to build a blind completely free, removing the need for spending a hundred dollars or more on a manufactured tent that may only last a season or two anyway.

Kurrus ground blind in Cass County
Kurrus ground blind in Cass County

Stands, are a bit more complex to build because you have to think of safety. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money on them. Scrap lumber is available almost everywhere, and may even be laying in a pile in your back yard. You know that space behind the shed that you never see or visit? Clear out the weeds, and start digging through the pile. You are looking for boards that are not rotten and as many as you can that are pressure treated. They will be left in the woods, and exposed to the elements. It is a good idea to check what you build every year to see if anything needs to be replaced. However, do you really want to re-build the stand every year?

There are many options available for finding free wood. Craigslist and facebook groups are great places to start looking. Many people will have piles of it left over from various projects that they don’t want lying around. They are more than willing to get rid of it for free. The only expense that you really need to incur is a box of galvanized screws, and a drill if you don’t already have one.

Before building a stand out of free wood, you need to investigate the health of the tree. Always use a live tree. Even live trees with leaves can still have spots with rot. Check the tree as best as you can to ensure that it will safely house a stand. This is not only important for the safety of your life but also can be very disappointing to return later to find the tree has fallen and destroyed all of your hard work.

To keep the health of the tree build the stand in the dead of winter. The tree will be in hibernation of sorts, and will be able to handle the stress of repeated screws being inserted into it. If you can not wait, make sure to find the largest, strongest tree available. Screw several boards approximately two feet long to the trunk of the tree to create a ladder. Before you start climbing with no fear, test each step carefully. You should also do this every time you climb the stand.  Don’t let your bravery and monkey skills end your day with a trip to the hospital instead of the butcher.

The stand itself will depend greatly on your building skills and your preferences. This could be as simple as a board that you stand on, or a whole platform with a chair for sitting. Despite your building capabilities, you should always install a fail safe. In this instance, it would be a harness that will keep you from falling to the ground in the event of the platform giving way, or you happen to step a little too close to the edge. Again, don’t be a daredevil and think you are okay and don’t need one. These are fairly inexpensive, and somewhat easy to come by. Just when you think you don’t need one, is the exact moment you will wish you had one. Inexpensive versions are available for under $50. Used ones can be found for cheaper. Again, it comes down to budget and preference.

With a little creativity, and free materials it is entirely possible to spend less building a blind or stand than purchasing a manufactured version. Even with having to purchase the harness, you would still spend less than a hundred dollars, and most versions don’t sell for less than that.

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