March 07, 2022 8 min read
Purchasing the highest-quality hunting gear possible ensures that it lasts season after season. However, even the best hunting equipment can degrade without proper care and maintenance.
After the hunting season ends, there are many things you can do to keep your hunting blind in good condition. Here are the best tips to extend your blind’s lifespan and ensure it is clean, properly maintained and ready for the next season.
For most hunters, the end of the hunting season is the moment to uninstall and pack upthe ground blinds. This is the ideal time to create a maintenance checklist, including clearing it out, cleaning with scent-free products, drying, inspecting parts and preparing it for the next season. Even if you are fortunate enough to own or access land where you can leave blinds up permanently, the off-season is still the best time of year to give your blind a check-up. Don’t leave it until the start of next season. You may find that the elements have degraded your blind and left you without a critical piece of gear for the hunting season.
Before giving your blind a check-up, you should clear it out of any gear, equipment and accessories so they don’t obstruct hard-to-reach areas. Remove anything that isn’t part of the blind’s structure and core elements. If you alreadyknow how to build a hunting blind, you should have a good idea of what you can safely remove and what should stay inside.
Check every rack and corner and remove all weapons, ammunition, clothing, hunting chair, seating pads, food, coolers, fans, indoor heater and other gear and supplies. If some of the furniture elements are detachable or easy to screw and unscrew, such as drawers, hooks and racks, disassemble them.
A good habit to adopt during the hunting season is regularly spot-cleaning your blind during downtime and between hunting days. Removing dirt, branches, leaves and other brush and debris can help improve your blind’s lifespan.
However, the off-season is an opportunity to give your blind the deep cleaning it needs to stay in top shape. Long-term storage without appropriate cleaning and scent control measures makes it easier for prey to detect you next season. It also degrades your blind’s quality and shortens its service life. Off-season cleaning is vital even ifyou have elevated hunting blinds in permanent emplacements or permanent ground blinds. You can break down the off-season deep-cleaning process into three parts: Inside, outside and accessories.
Shadow Hunter blinds use high-quality materials, like multi-layered insulated aluminum, designed for easy cleaning and maintenance. The best way to preserve these materials’ properties is to scrub them regularly using suitable cleaning products like distilled white vinegar or scent-free detergent. Your blind’s essential interior parts are typically made using two materials: structurally engineered aluminum siding and construction-grade wood elements protected by a layer of weather-proof acrylic coating.
The easiest and safest way to clean the interior wood surfaces of your blind is to use a microfiber towel on your walls and a broom for the floor. Wipe every wall and floor surface from top to bottom. If you see any grime, stains or other hard-to-remove filth, lightly dampen your microfiber tower in water, and add a small quantity of scent-free detergent. Pay close attention to the ingredients and avoid cleaning products containing acetone, ammonia or isopropyl alcohol. These substances destroy the acrylic layer and severely reduce the lifespan of your blind’s wood pieces.
Avoid scented soaps or detergents. The fragrances may remain for months and increase your chances of being detected by animals during the next hunting season. Avoid using abrasive sponges or cleaning pads because you risk scratching or chipping the protective acrylic layer.
Your blind’s sidings are made of aluminum, a naturally rustproof and easy-to-clean material. You can use microfiber towels and brushes lightly dampened with scent-free detergent. Although aluminum is more resistant to chemicals than wood and acrylic, there are still products you should avoid. For instance, do not use overly abrasive brushes or cleaning pads, and avoid steel wool because it can scratch the metal surface. Also, avoid using aqueous alkaline or acidic cleaners, paint removers and solvents intended for steel; they can damage or corrode your blind’s aluminum elements.
If you notice signs of corrosion on your siding or other aluminum pieces, you can try to fix it with a soft cloth and a small amount of phosphoric acid gel. Rub the cloth on the aluminum surface until the gel covers the corroded spot, wait 10-15 minutes and then wipe it off with another dry cloth. This method is appropriate for mild cases of rust. If it isn’t enough to remove it or if the aluminum underneath appears heavily pitted and scratched, the corrosion may have compromised that element’s integrity. Consider repairing or replacing the affected panel.
If your model features sound-dampening carpeted flooring, such asthe Marksman 6x6 Octagon, the best way to clean and maintain it is to use a vacuum and a vinegar solution. Start by vacuuming the carpet, removing as much dust, dirt, soil and debris as possible from the carpet’s fibers. Mix a vinegar solution using one part distilled white vinegar and three parts cold water, and then pour the solution in a spray bottle. Divide the blind’s floor into four quadrants, and apply the solution on each quadrant until damp, one at a time.
Wait approximately five minutes after dampening a quadrant, and then use a microfiber towel to dry excess solution from the carpet fibers. Clean your towel in a bucket of water, and then repeat until you have treated all four quadrants. Let the carpet air dry naturally for a few hours. The vinegar eliminates bacteria and odors.
The outside elements of your blind are designed to withstand long-term exposure to the elements. After spending an entire season outside, your blind will be covered in dirt, mud, bird droppings and other grime.
Use a garden hose or a pressurized pump pack with warm water to spray the blind down, starting from the roof and continuing on each wall. If you use elevated blinds, spray the elevator structure as well. Use a safety ladder or scaffolding to reach the top. After spraying your blind with water, use a car washing brush with soft bristles and a small quantity of scent-free detergent to scrub each surface and remove grimy buildup. Let it air dry for a few hours.
Look closely for signs of mold or mildew. Mildew is whitish-gray and yellow, whereas mold appears greenish-brown to black. Both emit a distinctive musty or earthy odor reminiscent of decaying wood. Although moldy scents don’t alert deer, you should view these odors as a warning sign. If left unchecked, mold and mildew can grow and cause severe damage to your hunting blind, reducing its lifespan. It can also adversely impact your respiratory health if you sit in a moldy blind.
The best solution to remove mold and mildew from your blind without damaging it is to use a vinegar-based solution. Mix water and household vinegar at a 1:1 ratio in a bucket, dampen a soft towel in your vinegar solution and then scrub the moldy or mildew surfaces with the towel until none remains. Using 3% hydrogen peroxide is also an excellent mold removal method. Hydrogen peroxide oxides the mold’s proteins and DNA, causing it to break down for easy removal. It is also a highly stable product that won’t react with the aluminum panels to preserve the integrity of the blind’s structure.
Moldy or damaged elevator structural lumber reduces the structure’s stability and is a significant risk to the blind’s occupants. If left untreated for too long, the wood may rot, and your blind runs the risk of collapsing. Clean mold and mildew from these elements as soon as they appear. If one of the lumber pieces is cracked, broken or rotted, separate your blind from the elevator and replace the compromised piece.
Shadow Hunter Blinds uses metal angle brackets, anchors and ladder systems. These elements use high-strength, premium-grade 12-gauge steel in their construction, making them relatively low-maintenance. Although these steel parts are highly durable and resistant to extreme weather and temperatures, they are vulnerable to rust. Regularly inspect your blind’s steel parts and check for signs of rust and remove it immediately. Studies have shown thatuntreated rust can weaken even the world’s most robust steel.
The most cost-effective surface rust removal solution is to use sandpaper. Start with coarse-grit sheets (40 to 80-grit) and scrape the surface using circular motions until the rust falls off. If the rusted surface area is significant, you may find it easier to use a power sander fitted with coarse sanding pads (60-grit or less).
All standard Shadow Hunter blinds are equipped with ShadowView™ silent window systems. They contain five elements: aluminum tracks, an interior plexiglass window, exterior molded smoke shields and a silent cord for opening and closing. Exterior shields require little maintenance. All you need is a standard microfiber cloth and a small amount of soap and water to clean dust, dirt and natural stains. Clean the inside of your window tracks using a small brush and scrub any dirt and debris trapped inside.
Over time, your interior plexiglass window may become cloudy, making it difficult to see outside clearly from the blind. To clean your blind’s plexiglass windows, use a soft towel dampened with scent-free, hunting-grade detergent and warm water. Rub all surfaces of your windows with the damp towel until clean. Avoid using ammonia-based products; not only do they exacerbate the cloudiness, but they may also damage the surface of your windows.
Unscrew and inspect your aluminum drip caps. Clean the surface using a dry microfiber towel. If you notice signs of corrosion, you can use a small quantity of the same phosphoric gel acid you used to clean the blind’s other aluminum elements. Inspect your window systems to ensure they still function correctly. If you see cracks in the plastic cinches or signs of wear on the cords, you should discontinue using them and replace them as soon as possible. Consider purchasing aninexpensive replacement cinch accessory kit. This allows you to replace worn parts quickly and avoid the risks of a noisy or stuck window during the next deer season.
A Shadow Hunter ground blind is a high-quality, professional-grade product designed for long-term use. Taking the time to properly clean and dry your blind before long-term storage can extend the lifespan of your Shadow Hunter blind by several years.
If you can legally leave your blinds in place during the off-season, the protective coating on your blind’s wood elements is weather- and rodent-proof. This means that it is designed to keep your Shadow Hunter blind safe from the elements, and you can simply leave the blind out to dry under the sun. The coating shields it from rain, snow, moisture, rodents, mold, rust and other environmental hazards that threaten ground blinds and other outdoor structures.
You may need to pack it up for indoor storage in some cases. In this instance, even with the advantage of an acrylic coating, it is critical to store your blind in a dry environment to prevent moisture accumulation, which causes mold or rot to form. Under typical storage conditions, your blind should dry naturally within 24 to 48 hours. If your blind’s wood elements are noticeably wet even after bringing it in storage, you can use a towel or a hairdryer on a medium setting to fully dry the components. If your storage area has heating and climate control, consider increasing the ambient temperature by a few degrees to help accelerate the drying process.
Following these essential maintenance tips allows you to get the most out of your hunting blinds. A rigorous maintenance schedule can extend the lifespan of your Shadow Hunter blinds by several years. If you have any additional questions or inquiries on how to care for your Shadow Hunter blinds and accessories,contact us today.