Prepared for a Long Sit

Waiting for deer is a tried and true tactic for hunters

Tom Armstrong points to an elevated clearing at the base of a steep-sided, flat-topped mountain, typical of the dramatic landforms erupting from the rolling farmland west of Thunder Bay. He says it’s a high-traffic area, with does stopping at feed piles along the bush line and bucks typically cruising through. It’s just before first light of a snowy November morning when I step out of the truck and start up the rise.

“Watch for deer going in. I’ve bumped them a few times on my way to the blind,” says Tom before heading off to his tree stand less than a kilometre away. I creep along the bush line, peer out into the deserted clearing, then scurry over to a portable nylon camouflage ground blind set up on the opposite side of the field.

hunter in the woods

Portable blinds can be set up close to feed piles or high-traffic areas.

Concealed and Comfortable

Rather than go out in search of deer, waiting for deer to come to us is a tried and true tactic. Patience is a virtue, and this certainly applies to waiting for a Whitetail to appear within range. Any hunter who’s been on a stand in late November knows it’s a lot easier to be patient when we are warm and dry. The beauty of hunting out of a ground blind is we can sit comfortably concealed for long periods of time. And most of the time it’s a long wait.

inside a ground blind

I slip into the blind and prepare for the morning sit. Today the temperature is a little below zero. Not only does the blind conceal my movements and protect me from the breeze, but it also allows me creature comforts like a folding chair and a portable propane heater.

deer hunter sitting in ground blind

Blinds allow hunters to use propane heaters and shield them from cold weather.

I unzip the front and side windows, adjust my shooting stick, and practice aiming at likely areas with my rifle. I also work the area with my rangefinder, noting the yardage to areas where deer might likely present themselves. I pull out a rattle bag, a grunt tube, and a doe bleat canister, which I plan to use every half-hour or so to try and attract an animal. Finally, I light the pilot of my propane heater and pull out my thermos of tea and some snacks for easy and silent access throughout the day.

Ready to Wait

I lean back in my chair and settle in for the long haul. As the morning light spreads over the landscape, my peripheral vision detects movement. I slowly turn my head to the left and see a large brown animal about 15 yards from the blind and moving quickly. The eight-point buck looks directly at me as it moves swiftly across the field. It’s now or never. I steady my rifle on my shooting stick, aim for the vitals and squeeze the trigger.

“I’d just poured my first coffee when I heard the shot,” says Tom as he steps out of his truck close to where I’m attaching my buck tag to the antlers of a beautiful specimen.

hunter with harvested ontario whitetail deer

James Smedley with a small 8-point buckshot from a ground blind.

“Didn’t take long,” I say with a grin.

Being concealed and comfortable in a ground blind makes waiting a lot easier – even if the wait is much shorter than anticipated.

(All photo credits: James Smedley)
About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions—more than 400 pieces and close to 1,000 images—to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines, and newspapers have earned him over 40 national and international awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is the travel editor at Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. James has fly-fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass, and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.


Visit James at

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