Why and How: Photographing the Bugle of Deer with a Cloth Photo Blind

The bugle of the deer is an inevitable event for wildlife photographers that occurs in the autumn season. Depending on where you live, you may have heard deer bugling near your home. However, photographing deer during this period is a real challenge in the wilderness.

To help photograph discreetly, I propose the use of a technique involving a cloth photo blind to hide you from the deer’s sight. This accessory allows you to capture interesting images of deer stags and deer does without being seen.

A cloth camera blind is very suitable to photograph deer during the rut.
"A cloth camera blind is very suitable to photograph deer during the rut.

The Principle of the Cloth Photo Blind

Before I expand on this subject further, it is important to explain to you what a cloth photo blind is.

A cloth photo blind is a piece of cloth that allows you to camouflage yourself from the sight of animals. You cannot be spotted.

In general, the color of the blind is khaki. The color should be chosen according to the environments you are planning on visiting.

I recommend that you choose a waterproof cloth photo blind. They will not keep you perfectly dry in heavy rain, but if you set up your blind under a tree, you will be nearly dry.

Why: Using a Cloth Photo Blind for the Bugle of the Deer?

In previous articles, I explained to you that to photograph the deer's slab, it was interesting to practice photo-walking, the approach with the static blind. These techniques depend on the terrain, weather conditions, and your own physical condition.

Each technique has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Photo-walking allows you to move in search of deer but in this case, you are visible from far away. The advantage is that you can play on the surprise effect. With the camera handheld, you can more easily take pictures without being prepared.
  • The approach allows you to move closer to the deer. The disadvantage is that it requires a good physical condition because it is often necessary that you crawl on the soil
  • The static blind gives you an advantage of not tiring as easily. The disadvantage is that even if you know the field well, you are never certain whether a stag or a doe will appear directly in front of your photo lens.

The cloth photo blind is a hybrid solution. It allows you to move and stop to set up a blind for a few hours. If no animal shows up, you can easily change places again.

The cloth photo blind allows to be mobile with discretion.

To use it, you must follow these steps.

Step 1: You Must Ensure That Your Background Camouflages You

The goal of the cloth photo blind is to make yourself invisible to deer stags or deer does.

You must choose a background that easily blends in with your cloth blind. In fact, even the shape you are creating with your body under the cloth must not be detectable. For example, there is no point in using a cloth photo blind in the middle of the meadow, you will easily be noticed by animals.

Wild animals like deer have an excellent photographic memory. As they move through the wild, they learn to memorize all the places through which they pass. If they realize that something has changed in their immediate environment, they will immediately become suspicious. I have already tested this way of proceeding. A stag once remained motionless for several minutes watching me hiding in my cloth blind. After 2 or 3 minutes, he went back exactly by the way he had come.

I advise you to choose as a background a large tree, a thicket, or undergrowth. The more you blend yourself with your immediate environment the better.

A cloth photo blind must completely camouflage you, allowing you to blend in with the background.

You must not stand out in any small way from your environment.
A cloth camera blind should not be used in a meadow because it is to visible.
A cloth camera blind should not be used in a meadow because it is to visible.

Step 2: Choose a Comfortable Foldable Seat

Once you have carefully selected your background, you must install your foldable seat.

Since your blind will last several hours, I advise you to choose a comfortable seat. Personally, I opted for a rectangular camping seat to support my size and my weight. When I first started using a blind, I had a tripod seat. However, over time, I found that it was not comfortable at all, the seating surface was insufficient.

Step 3: Properly Install Your Tripod and Your Camera

This step is crucial. You must use a tripod to place your camera. You could very well take photos with a handheld camera, but the movement caused by your arms when you lift the device will be immediately be detected by the stag or doe.

Once your tripod is placed in front of you, place your camera on the gimbal tripod head.

To adjust the height of your tripod, I recommend having the chin at the height of the hot shoe.*

Thus, you will avoid generating movement when you pass from direct vision through the mesh to the viewfinder. The transition from one to the other will be discreet, and you are less likely to attract the attention of the animal that came in front of you.

Step 4: Wear a Hat or Cap

Before wearing your cloth photo blind, I recommend you wearing a hat with edges or a cap. If your head remains naked, the fabric will slip on your head.

When you go from direct vision through the mesh to the viewfinder, you may notice that the fabric that bothers you. You may also create slight movements which will be noticed by the animal you are trying to photograph.

Step 5: Putting on the Cloth Blind

This step is somewhat simple. All you must do is place the cloth blind over yourself. You must first adjust the photo lens so that it has a clear view through the slot provided for this purpose.

Then you must adjust your eyes and face to the small window designed for this reason. Initially, it is not very easy. But after a few minutes, you will be able to accomplish this part quickly.

You will quickly find that the viewing angle is limited to 120 degrees, which is the equivalent of a 14mm lens. You will find that it is not enough when you are in the field. However, you must absolutely avoid moving while turning your head.

The cloth blind amplifies the movements. Deer can easily detect this.

Be as motionless as possible.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge it.

Do Not Move with a Cloth Photo Blind

The function of the cloth blind is to allow you to be discreet. It saves you from having to break branches and ferns to prepare a natural lookout.

Do not try to move while on the edge of a wood. Deer have a piercing view. The slightest abnormal movement will cause them to flee at once.

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The cloth blind is made with a piece of cloth that is wide. If you try to walk, you may tangle your feet in it, causing yourself to trip and fall. This could damage your camera, your equipment, and the blind itself, not to mention that you may sustain injury.

When you move, simply fold your cloth blind. Store it in a bag. Then move to another place to wait. The cloth blind is designed as an easy accessory to store and transport.

The Use of a Cloth Blind Follows Certain Rules

The cloth blind is an easy-to-use accessory that allows you to capture more unique and higher-quality photos. Nevertheless, you must respect certain essential rules to take good pictures with a cloth blind:

  • Know the habits of wild animals.
  • Identify the flows of passage.
  • Notice and use the right wind to your advantage.
  • Choose the light well.
  • Respect the environment and the nature while you wait.
  • Never choose a boar passage area.


I hope that this article about using a cloth camera blind to photograph deer during the rut will help you to make the right choice for yourself.

Personally, I use this accessory every year to take pictures. The results are always beyond my expectations.

I am a fervent practitioner of the approach. However, doing two approaches per photo session is a maximum for me, because it is exhausting both physically and mentally. I do not hesitate to choose an undergrowth to stop and hide under my cloth camera blind, so that I can rest for an hour or two.

When creating interesting animal photos in an environment that you do not yet know very well, the cloth camera blind is the best tool to use.


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