One glance at the new Mantis Ground Blind at the 2018 Archery Trade Show (ATA) said it was special. Gone was the symmetrical silhouette that helps a mature buck nail the location of a ground blind in a heartbeat. The camouflage looked different as well- lots of light colors that blend better with fall hunting spots. I arranged a test on the spot and awaited eagerly for the new blind to arrive.
A mid-June day was the first chance to set up the blind with a forecast of 105 degrees and high humidity. I seriously questioned if I wanted to wrestle a multi-hub blind in mid-summer heat, yet the test looked too promising to postpone so I headed toward a mountain ridge and a likely fall deer hunting spot.
Out of the Box
Since “real” men don’t ask for directions… or read them, I slid the blind from its carton and unzipped the carrying case. Immediately I was impressed with the full-length zipper on the carrying case that made the Mantis easy to reach and repack when the set-up concluded.
My last experience with a five-hub blind was anything but smooth and efficient. I collapsed the hubs over and over (like a Rubik Cube) until I finally got the right combination.
After unwrapping the Mantis, I engaged the first hub, walked to the other side, engaged a second hub, and then entered the blind to complete the job. HOLY COW! There are only two hubs. In the next 10 seconds, I pushed the sides apart and the blind was up. How incredibly easy!
Easy In and Out
Entering a traditional five-hub blind can be difficult and usually involves a tight, noisy zipper. The Mantis entrance was open at the bottom eliminating the need to squeeze inside and trip over the zipper.
At first glance, the inside had a host of attachments and window options. Each one had a fine mesh screen and the rear windows had a fabric web that was perfect for added ventilation. The rear windows offered the option of a light-blocking closure, fine mesh, or the web. Termed the “Dragnet Window System” it allows multiple adjustments in complete silence.
Although the blind doesn’t seem tall, I was able to stand up to stretch or to make adjustments. The windows are large enough to shoot through easily with a compound or crossbow. The steep angles of the sides allow a bowhunter to draw his bow when kneeling or sitting and the blind’s angle allows rain and snow to quickly slide off.
I picked a spot near a recent blow-down, the kind of spot that deer were familiar with and the blind could have been placed among the tree branches. With some simple pruning tools, I’m sure I could have blended the Mantis into the deadfall. The Wicked Intent camouflage features 14 earth tones and dept of field to provide great blending power. Additionally, the black interior greatly enhances the ability to draw a compound or raise a rifle or crossbow without detection. You are basically hunting in a “black hole” and even a deer’s incredible eyesight won’t detect you.
The silhouette of the Mantis is unique, plus it has exterior ties to add branches and leaves. Wild turkeys wouldn’t give it a second look, yet whitetails notice the slightest change in their environment. When handling the blind, it’s easy to get human scent transferred to the fabric and hunters should use gloves and rubber boots to minimize scent contamination. Despite the ease-of-setup, the blind should be deployed at least two weeks before hunting. This allows for foreign scent to dissipate and wildlife to become accustomed to the change in scenery. Remember, the blind needs to fool the entire village- squirrels, blue jays, crows, and wild turkeys. When surrounding wildlife goes about its business in a calm and natural way, whitetail deer quickly relax.
After snapping a few pictures of the blind, I wondered if un-popping it would be a challenge. As expected, I collapsed the two hubs, rolled up the material and the blind went back into its zippered pouch in less than a minute.
The Mantis comes with a comfortable carrying case including a padded shoulder strap. Weighing just 9 pounds, it’s portable enough to walk into a great whitetail ambush spot. Once you know the “where,” trim the access route and use the limbs and branches to cover the blind. Six tie downs anchor the blind in place and prevent flapping.
Take care to only hunt the blind on a favorable wind or buy several and set up various locations to accommodate different wind properties. You’ll need a folding stool, but that’s about it. If you have never hunted from a ground blind before, get ready for heart-pounding eyeball-to-eyeball action. Hunting from a Mantis is like hunting from a black hole… and they won’t have a clue.